A kiss between two princes has made Royal New Zealand Ballet history in the company’s production of Cinderella.
“It’s crazy to think we haven't had a queer love story like this in ballet,” says Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB) dancer Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson, who plays the show's titular prince charming.
He says LGBTTQIA+ relationships are being represented on television and other theatre formats but have been missing from the main stage of traditional ballet.
“Ballet is so rooted in tradition and so I think it is about time,” he told 1News.
The RNZB production pushes the boundaries of the traditional Cinderella storyline, following the love story between Prince Charming and Prince Dashing.
“We’re lucky that we get to be a part of it and that we as the Royal New Zealand Ballet are one of the first in the world to do something like this,” says the dancer.
The show opened at the St James Theatre in Wellington on Tuesday night and will head off on the company’s first national tour in a year - to Auckland, Christchurch, Napier, and Dunedin.
It is the first time RNZB has returned to St James Theatre since its closure in 2019 due to earthquake risk.
Choreographer Loughlan Prior says he’s danced for the company for years and this is the first time he has seen a LGBTTQIA+ relationship take centre stage.
“There is something like 32 countries which still criminalise homosexuality so telling these stories and being inclusive and making them mainstream is super important,” he says.
The production is a collaboration between Prior, composer Claire Cowan, and costume designer Emma Kingsbury. It has been in the works for two years - but live performances have been interrupted by the pandemic.
“It’s the renaissance after the dark ages of Covid,” says Prior, who hopes the show will pave the way for future ballet productions.
“I really hope that this production sparks something in the way that traditional ballets are presented,” he says.