Originally I am from Vigo, Spain. As a child I was very small, so my doctor recommended I do some sort of physical activity to promote growth. I loved to swim, but it was very solitary and I wanted to do something more social with my friends. My first introduction to ballet was through a small school in Vigo.
When I was 11, I won a competition and was awarded a scholarship to the Estudio de Danza de Maria Avila, in Zaragoza. Until this point, I had only danced for fun, but this opportunity made me more serious about my training. I ended up studying with Maria until I joined the San Francisco Ballet in 2004.
When I was 17, I was preparing to compete at the Prix de Lausanne. But just before, I broke my foot and couldn’t participate. The injury was a roadblock I hadn’t seen coming. Even though it was difficult to realize this at the time, I was facing a pivotal moment in my life.
I had to decide if I would continue dancing or choose to go to college. But the injury and my inability to dance only made me realize how passionate I actually felt about ballet.
So at that point I made a conscious decision to recommit myself to dance and pursue a professional career. It was a difficult decision to make, but the experience ultimately made me more focused. In order to realize my dream of becoming a professional, I had to rededicate myself to the art form and work more purposely than ever before.
Growing up, I had a videotape of Elizabeth Loscavio, a former San Francisco Ballet dancer, performing in Balanchine’s Who Cares? at Lincoln Center. Seeing her really inspired me to dance boldly.
When it came time for me to audition for companies, naturally San Francisco Ballet was high on my list. I had some friends in the company, so I went to take class and got offered a job. One of the things I enjoy most, is being the studio to rehearse a role by myself and then later to perform it. It’ s hugely satisfying to have a single part become a piece of my self through this process.
When I premiered in Romeo and Juliet, I was able to work a lot on Juliet’s character by myself. In a way, I became more self-sufficient in the studio. It made the performance much more poignant for me, knowing I had built the role from the ground up, bringing it from the studio to the stage.
Today, I’ve been in the company for 14 years and I’m now a principal dancer. Along the way, I’ve learned not to worry so much about what certain people think. The most successful road is to try be yourself.
This isn’t always easy in a world as subjective as ballet, which doesn’t have a lot of objective standards. This is where trustworthy friends and colleagues come in. If you surround your self with people whose opinion you value, their critique can only help you grow as an artist.
That being said, it’s important to learn from everyone and see what they have to offer. The choice of what type of dancer and artist you want to be, in the end, is up to you.
Photo by Zachariah Epperson