If you don't recognize Gabriel Figueredo's name yet, it's only a matter of time. Not only did the 18-year-old win the Grand Prix Award at the 2019 Youth America Grand Prix New York Finals, but he took second place at the 2019 Prix de Lausanne. For Figueredo, returning to YAGP this year was like a comeback tour; He won the Youth Grand Prix Award in 2013. The Brazilian-born dancer is long and lithe, but exhibits careful control while onstage. His extreme flexibility and extension are matched by a penchant for turning; his Instagram account is filled with videos from the studio.
Since his 2013 YAGP win, Figueredo has been training at the John Cranko School in Stuttgart, Germany. And now his schooling is coming to a close. His Prix de Lausanne medal granted him a choice of company; Figueredo will be joining the Stuttgart Ballet this fall. We touched base with this dancer on the rise to hear all about his whirlwind competition experience this year, and what he's looking forward to in a professional career.
When did you first start competing?
I had been to competitions in Brazil, but YAGP in 2013 was my first one in the United States. Then I took a five year break before going back to competitions this year.
As a student in Brazil, had you always hoped to train abroad?
I didn't really want to go anywhere. I didn't expect so much. I thought it was just for the experience, but when I got the scholarship to the John Cranko School I was really happy.
What was it like moving to Germany at age 13?
I thought it would be harder. I really missed my family at the beginning because I was so young, but it was amazing because there a lot of Brazilians here and they all helped me a lot. Getting used to the training was hard at first too. Here, it's Vaganova, but in Brazil I was used to a mix of American and French technique.
Figueredo at the 2019 Prix de Lausanne
Gregory Bartadon, Courtesy PDL
This year you attended both YAGP and Prix de Lausanne. What do you see as the main differences between the two competitions?
When my director proposed that I go to both I was really happy and excited.They're so different. At the Prix de Lausanne you get the scholarship and then you get to choose where you want to go, but at YAGP all of the directors choose you.
What was the highlight of the YAGP New York Finals?
Of course getting the prize. Also getting to take classes with different teachers, and getting to know more people. And dancing at Lincoln Center.
Did you approach YAGP differently this year than you did in 2013?
A lot of people remembered me from 2013, so it was nice to be back, though a little overwhelming. And I was actually much more nervous this time. In 2013 it was more for fun, because I didn't really know what it was; I was really so small. But this year I got so nervous, I think because people were expecting a lot.
Most people enter YAGP in the hopes of getting a top school scholarship or company contract, but when you entered you already had both. What were you hoping to get out of the competition?
It was more about the experience; coming back, and also getting to know people. It was all amazing, I will never forget it. But I'm really looking forward to starting my career now; no more competitions!
Figueredo at the YAGP Finals
VAM Productions, Courtesy YAGP
What made you choose Stuttgart Ballet?
At Lausanne I had many choices from partner companies, but Stuttgart has been a dream of mine since entering the John Cranko School. I also really like the Royal Ballet and Mariinsky.
Do you have a dream role?
I like classical roles more than contemporary. My favorites are Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake and Onegin.
What have you learned from competing?
It always comes down to nerves for me. Once I was done I realized that I really didn't need to be that nervous.
Do you have any advice for young dancers who are just starting to compete?
Believe in yourself no matter what happens; always keep going.