The Royal New Zealand Ballet announces two new Principal dancers, onstage after sold-out Swan Lake performance.

Royal New Zealand Ballet Artistic Director Ty King-Wall took to the stage at the conclusion of this afternoon’s performance of Swan Lake at Wellington’s St James Theatre, to announce the promotion of two of the RNZB’s most-loved performers, Soloists Ana Gallardo Lobaina and Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson, to the rank of Principal.

In front of the capacity audience, which had just witnessed Gallardo Lobaina and Guillemot-Rodgerson in only their second-ever performances of the iconic roles of Odette/Odile and Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake, King-Wall praised both dancers for their artistry. 

‘It is a great joy to be able to recognise the contribution both Ana and Josh have made as artists with their immense commitment, skill and interpretive qualities, through promotion to Principal, our highest rank in the Royal New Zealand Ballet. 

‘Ana is a true ballerina, who has exhibited great pride in her work and such care in her approach to the art form. Her exquisite line is matched by a timeless and poignant expressiveness in her dancing, at times heartbreaking, but also imbued with hope and always incredibly moving. These transformative abilities allow her to shine in contemporary works like Alice Topp’s Clay, while also making her such a compelling Odette/Odile.’    

‘Josh has demonstrated such incredible development as an artist in a short space of time, which has been a privilege to witness. His maturity, openness and hunger for knowledge make him so easy to work with. He is an assured and considerate partner, and his versatility is exemplified in his ability to portray a broad spectrum of characters. I really admire the reflective and thoughtful path he takes as a dancer.’  

‘Ana and Josh have built a beautiful partnership across many ballets, so it is brilliant for them to celebrate and share this richly deserved achievement together on stage. I’m sure you will all join in me in congratulating both Ana and Josh on this huge milestone in their professional careers.’ 

Swan Lake by the Royal New Zealand Ballet, May 2024. Photo credit: Stephen A’Court.

Ana Gallardo Lobaina, who joined the RNZB in 2020, was born in Cuba and trained there and in Miami before dancing with Cincinnati Ballet and West Australian Ballet. Ana’s notable roles to date include Loughlan Prior’s The Firebird, created on her, Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2021) and Juliet (2023). Her versatility as a performer has been demonstrated in works by all three RNZB Choreographers in Residence, Alice Topp’s Logos and Aurum, Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain pas de deux, George Balanchine’s Serenade and Twyla Tharp’s Waterbaby Bagatelles™, as well as classics including Giselle (Myrtha), The Sleeping Beauty (The Lilac Fairy) and her recent debut as Odette/Odile in Swan Lake. 

Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson was born in Christchurch and holds a BFA in Dance from The Juilliard School in New York. He joined the Royal New Zealand Ballet in the middle of the 2020 season as a guest artist, performing the role of Prince Désiré in The Sleeping Beauty.  Josh became a full-time company member at the beginning of 2021 and was promoted to Soloist during Ethan Stiefel and Johan Kobborg’s Giselle in which he performed as Albrecht. Other highlights in his time at the RNZB have included Romeo in Andrea Schermoly’s Romeo & Juliet (2023), Prince Charming and The Royal Messenger in Loughlan Prior’s Cinderella (2022), Oberon and Demetrius in Liam Scarlett’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2021), Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain pas de deux, Alice Topp’s Aurum and Logos, and Sarah Foster-Sproull’s The Autumn Ball.    

Gallardo Lobaina and Guillemot-Rodgerson are scheduled to reprise their leading roles in Swan Lake in Auckland (10 May) and Christchurch (23 May, 26 May). Also taking on the roles during the six-centre national tour are Principals Mayu Tanigaito and Laurynas Vėjalis, Principal Kate Kadow and Artist Branden Reiners and Soloist Katherine Minor and Principal Kihiro Kusukami. 

Ana Gallardo Lobaina is supported by Ann-Louise and Campbell Gower through the RNZB’s Partner a Dancer programme, and is also an Ambassador for Hello Period. Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson is supported by the Deane Endowment Trust.