I don’t remember not wanting to dance. When I was three years old, I began to tell my family “I am going to be a ballerina”. No body knows where this desire came from. The only possibility my mom can think of is that she had a jewelry box with a spinning dancer inside. But the small town in Spain where I grew up didn’t have a ballet school at that time, so I had to wait. When I was nine, a school finally opened. I already knew I wanted to be a ballerina. As it became more clear that my dream of dancing professionally was possible, my teacher, Mentxu Medel, decided to show me a video of Natalia Makarova dancing Swan Lake. It took my breath away. Even the girls standing in the corps de ballet seemed perfect to me. The idea that I could be the principal swan seemed too big of a dream for me. It simply seemed unobtainable. I didn’t care if I was the last girl in line; I just wanted to be on stage.
When I was 14, I moved to Madrid to study with Victor Ullate. Just one year later, I began to dance professionally with his company. For my first performance, we were on tour in the south of Spain, which was very far away from where my family lived. There was no way for them to come see me. I knew in this moment, the beginning of my career, that I needed my family more than ever, so I took a picture of my parents and put it in my dressing room. Even today, I keep their photo there, so I feel like they are always with me. Every young dancer starts out with wishes and dreams, but no one can promise you will be successful. I knew that little moments of brilliance on stage make all the hard work and sacrifice worthwhile.
Every second I experience and feel on stage, make all the hard work and sacrifice totally worth it!
My belief was never tested more than when I tore a knee ligament during a performance. I had no idea how to be injured. The doctors told me I would be out for six months. But I had trouble believing I would ever be able to walk again. My leg was so swollen it looked more like a tree trunk. I decided to set small daily goals for myself, like just being able to walk without crutches. After the predicted six months, I healed. This accident taught me to value every second on stage. I returned to performing, diving into everything head first, and learning from my mistakes as I went. This is when the most beautiful surprises happen. Having this freedom taught me how to totally commit, emotionally and physically, and just go for it.
That being said, it is impossible to dance forever. I don’t know what I will do when I retire, but I know what I won’t do. Choreography is not for me, and I probably won’t be a ballet teacher. I don’t have that sort of creativity or inspiration. I wouldn’t mind being a director. Managing my own career has always appealed to me. But it’s impossible for me to sit in the audience when a ballet I know is being performed. When I know what step is coming next, I can’t relax at all. This reminds me that all I can do is treasure every moment I’m lucky enough I step on stage.
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