Once Upon A Time, Two Handsome Princes Kissed Happily Ever After!

The Ryman Healthcare Season of Cinderella. Choreography by Loughlan Prior. Rehearsal at the Royal New Zealand Ballet Dance Centre, Wellington, NZ, 27 June 2022. Photo credit: Stephen A’Court.
Advertisement

The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s Cinderella is bucking all the fairytale and ballet clichés. In choreographer Loughlan Prior’s colourful new production, the princes fall in love with each other, while Cinderella chooses her own path. Josh and Shae, the dancers playing Princes Charming and Dashing, talk to express about breaking the mould!

Josh – Prince Charming

What inspired you to start dancing and when did you know that ballet was the genre for you?

Advertisement

I saw a tango on Shortland Street when I was young and thought it was the coolest thing ever! I really like ballet for the acting and getting to play different characters, but I also really enjoy all forms of dance for different reasons. Ballet is the genre for me right now but it’s constantly changing.

What does it mean to you to have been cast as Prince Charming in this particular production of Cinderella?

I’m so pumped. Ballet has a reputation for being stuck in the past and being somewhat exclusive. It’s exciting that Loughlan and the RNZB are willing to tell a more relevant story of today that’s aiming to be inclusive instead. To be a part of something that aims to include and represent more people, makes me feel like there’s a bigger purpose behind my art.

The Ryman Healthcare Season of Cinderella. Choreography by Loughlan Prior. Rehearsal at the Royal New Zealand Ballet Dance Centre, Wellington, NZ, 27 June 2022. Photo credit: Stephen A’Court.

In a groundbreaking moment, the princes dance together. Why do you think same-sex couples are still somewhat taboo (or at least a novelty) in ballet, and what did it mean to you to be part of this progressive moment?

There are so many gender roles in ballet, that I think even in just a purely movement-based level, people are afraid to try it and aren’t sure how it would work. What does it look like for a woman to lift a woman or a man to lift a man? The truth is, other forms of dance have been trying this for a long time with great success. I’m excited to see how we can push the ballet vocabulary with this, to achieve new dynamics and something unexpected. 

I’m not sure what it means to be a part of something so progressive yet, and I won’t know until opening night. It feels scary and intimidating, but I think that’s a good way to feel, it means we will work hard to do this story justice! 

The Ryman Healthcare Season of Cinderella. Choreography by Loughlan Prior. Rehearsal at the Royal New Zealand Ballet Dance Centre, Wellington, NZ, 27 June 2022. Photo credit: Stephen A’Court.

Why should all express readers be buying tickets to this production of Cinderella?

Because if you made it reading this far then Cinderella is definitely for you!

Shae – Prince Dashing

What inspired you to start dancing and when did you know that ballet was the genre for you?

I was exposed to dancing from a young age through my older sister. Though I was at the back of the studio complaining to my parents that I was bored, I remember then going home and choreographing dances in the living room to my favourite girl group at the time, which was of course the Pussy Cat Dolls! I gave ballet a proper go quite late when I was 14 years old and loved how disciplined and structured it was whilst also having the freedom to interpret when given the chance. I was lucky enough to have a passionate and very generous teacher who devoted a lot of time to help me improve and catch up technically to the other dancers around my age. With her help and many hours spent in the studio, I moved over to London to start my full-time training and sparked a career in ballet.

The Ryman Healthcare Season of Cinderella. Choreography by Loughlan Prior. Rehearsal at the Royal New Zealand Ballet Dance Centre, Wellington, NZ, 27 June 2022. Photo credit: Stephen A’Court.

What does it mean to you to have been cast as a Prince in this particular production of Cinderella?

Honestly, it’s such an honour. To play a prince in a classic ballet is a real career high in itself and to now have a storyline which shows love in multiple forms is the cherry on top. It’s very exciting to know going into this production that we are able to touch people in a way that hasn’t been done before on the RNZB stage. 

In a groundbreaking moment, the princes dance together. Why do you think same-sex couples are still somewhat taboo (or at least a novelty) in ballet, and what did it mean to you to be part of this progressive moment?

This story will pose a huge significance to young queer people watching in the audience. We are seeing online and in movies queer representation becoming more relevant and mainstream so to see it on stage and in an art form which is so highly focused on tradition be it ballet technique, class structure or ballet storylines it’s a huge step forward in making ballet more relatable to a wider audience. As a young queer boy who grew up believing that the prince is to live happily ever after with the princess, seeing this storyline would have helped me confirm that the feelings and thoughts I was having were ok and normalised being gay for me from a younger age. Representation matters! And I hope that this story touches people in a way that makes them feel supported and that they’re not alone out there.

The Ryman Healthcare Season of Cinderella. Choreography by Loughlan Prior. Rehearsal at the Royal New Zealand Ballet Dance Centre, Wellington, NZ, 27 June 2022. Photo credit: Stephen A’Court.

Photos | Stephen A’Court.

RNZB’s Cinderella runs from Wednesday 3 August to Saturday 3 September including: 3 – 6 August at Wellington St James Theatre, 10 – 13 August at Auckland’s Aotea Centre and 25 – 28 August at Christchurch’s Isaac Theatre. Tickets from rnzb.org.nz

Advertisement