Ballet Stars

A Prince of Artistry: Herman Cornejo

Photo by Katsuyoshi Tanaka via ABT.

What's it like to dance in a company like American Ballet Theatre that has so many excellent men?

Having stars around you is a good thing. It creates an energy that drives you to improve.

What's different for you when you dance a ballet without a plot?

It's a more physical experience. In a certain way it is more difficult because it requires complete physical control. With story ballets, there is a lot of interpretation—which is what I like most.

What was it like to work with Alexei Ratmansky on Seven Sonatas for ABT?

He is a gem—extremely nice, but he needs to see the movement exactly the way it is in his mind. It was hard, but the result was really good.

You made your debut as Siegfried in Swan Lake with the Corella Ballet in February. What was that like?

Dancing the classical roles is my dream. Since the creation of Corella Ballet, I've been able to dance two ballets I haven't yet performed with ABT, La Bayadère and Swan Lake.

How was partnering Natalia Osipova in ABT's La Sylphide last year?

Incredible. She's amazing, and her jump was unbelievable. I was saying to myself, “Oh my God, what do I do now?"

Have you ever seen a ballerina with a jump like that?

Only my sister Erica Cornejo and Osipova.

Have you ever danced with your wife, Carmen Corella?

Yes. We decided we just had to dance something together! An Argentine choreographer, Margarita Fernández, made a piece for us set to Mozart, Amadúo.

Do you have any rituals before a performance?

I try to do everything just as if it were a regular day. Class, rehearsal, and if I need to walk 10 blocks to go somewhere, that's fine. I like to stay pretty calm.

What music do you like to listen to when you're not working?

I love Philip Glass. I listen to his music a lot, when I'm trying to fall asleep or in the dressing room. But sometimes some Michael Jackson slips in there too!

What is your hidden talent?

I draw—I love architecture and design. I've always designed the places where I live, and my wife does the interior decoration.

Has your height affected your career?

It's always been on the table. Argen­tine dancers, and Latin American dancers in general, are on the small side. I think what matters are proportions. It's been hard sometimes to change the way of thinking of com­pany directors or coaches. Despite the fact that I'm small, my movements can be big, slow. That's why I think La Bayadère is one of my favorite ballets—because the movement is adagio. People always see me as a fast mover, and I enjoy it, but I feel much bigger than that.

The Conversation
News
Ma Cong in the studio with Tulsa Ballet. Courtesy Tulsa Ballet.

Without him we wouldn't have The Nutcracker, Swan Lake or Sleeping Beauty. But how much do you know about Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the man behind classical ballet's most recognizable music? Did you know that the Russian composer hid his homosexuality for much of his life? He also struggled with depression; there's been speculation that his death in 1893 was in fact a suicide.

Tulsa Ballet resident choreographer Ma Cong dramatically recounts his life in a new full-length ballet titled Tchaikovsky: The Man Behind the Music, premiering March 29-31. If you think a story ballet about the most renowned composer of story ballets set to, yes, a Tchaikovsky score, is a bit meta, you wouldn't be wrong. But considering the renewed importance of LGBTQ rights in society, it's a ballet perfectly timed to our era. In Russia, censorship still asserts that Tchaikovsky was not gay. The subject also calls to mind backlash surrounding an LGBTQ-themed work at Louisville Ballet just last month.

Keep reading... Show less
The Royal Ballet's Vadim Muntagirov and Marianela Nuñez in La Bayadère. Photo by Bill Cooper, Courtesy ROH.

Do you ever wish you could teleport to London and casually stroll into The Royal Opera House to see some of the world's best-loved ballets? Well, we have a solution for you: The Royal Ballet's 2018-19 cinema season.

Whether live or recorded, the seven ballet programs listed below, streaming now through next October, will deliver all of the magic that The Royal Ballet has to offer straight to your local movie theater. Can you smell the popcorn already?

Keep reading... Show less