The Dancers

Mayu Tanigaito

RNZB-2911 Principal Mayu Tanigaito. Photo by Stephen A'Court.

Mayu Tanigaito is currently the longest serving dancer in the Royal New Zealand Ballet. She joined in 2012 where she immediately began performing leading roles, including Blue Girl in George Balanchine’s Who Cares? and Myrtha in Giselle.

Mayu danced with North Carolina Dance Theater II for one year prior to joining the RNZB. During her illustrious career she has performed leading roles in classical repertoire including title roles in Giselle, Carmen by Roland Petit, Kitri in Don Quixote, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Swanhilda in Coppélia, Sugar Plum Fairy and Dew Drop in The Nutcracker, Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Queen of the Dew Fairies in Hansel & Gretel.

She has also performed many leading roles in modern works by master choreographers including Petit Mort and Sechs Tänze by Jiří Kylián, In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated and Artifact II by William Forsythe, Allegro Brillante, Serenade and Divertimento No. 15 by George Balanchine and Waterbaby Bagatelles by Twyla Tharp.

Mayu performed Giselle as a guest principal with the Greek National Opera in 2016 and was named as a principal in 2019 when RNZB reintroduced dancer ranks. In 2021, Mayu accomplished a successful comeback from a major knee injury. She performed principal roles in every season including the title roles in GisellePaquita and The Firebird and Titania in Liam Scarlett’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In 2022 she created the title role in Loughlan Prior’s Cinderella, performed as the Sugarplum Fairy in Val Caniparoli’s The Nutcracker Grand pas de deux and Medora in the Le Corsaire pas de trois as part of Tutus on Tour, and in Venus Rising had featured roles in Alice Topp’s Aurum and Twyla Tharp’s Waterbaby Bagatelles™. She also performed with fellow principal, Laurynas Vejalis in the Sydney International Ballet Gala alongside Natalia Osipova to rave reviews. As part of the digital season Ballet Bites, she performed in Alice Topp’s Absence of Light.

Mayu was born and raised in Japan where she received many awards in ballet competitions, including second place in the junior division of the 2002 Youth America Grand Prix in Japan and third place in the senior division in 2004, and she was a finalist in New York both years. She studied full-time at the Royal Ballet School in Antwerp and at the Rock School for Dance Education in the USA.

Mayu is supported by the Pye Foundation.

Dancer Credits

A Midsummer Night's Dream


The Firebird

The Firebird


Pas de trois



Black Swan, White Swan

Black Swan

Hansel & Gretel

Queen of the Dew Fairies