Karina González in Ben Stevenson's Coppélia. Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

Houston Ballet Principal Karina González On Her Adjustment to Motherhood and Conquering Self-Doubt

Are you more of a Giselle or a Juliet?

I've always said that my favorite role is Juliet, because of her vulnerability and maturity throughout the ballet. But now that I've performed Giselle, I find her so incredibly enjoyable, from being a village girl who falls in love for the first time to the most tender, almost weightless dancing in Act II.

Are you more at home in the studio or onstage?

I love the time in the studio. The process of starting from zero to getting better each day is so rewarding. My favorite phrase in rehearsals is "Let's do it again, so I can sleep in peace tonight." I need to feel so comfortable in the studio so that when I am onstage there are no bad surprises.


González as Sylvia in Stanton Welch's Sylvia

Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet

Which ballet was hardest to learn and perform?

My first time doing Swan Lake. Not because of the steps, but because of self-doubt. I didn't think I was right for the role, so it was hard to trust my own instincts. The fun part is that my second time around, I had an incredible time onstage.

What has been the biggest challenge of your career?

Coming back from pregnancy—from accepting my new body, to sleeping only a few hours at night, to the many days crying, feeling that I am choosing my work over my baby. But it's also been the most wonderful time in my career. My time in the studio is so different. I'm much more aware of my body, of the steps, of absorbing information faster because now my time at home is precious.

González in Stanton Welch's Giselle

Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet

You've watched Houston flood and your country, Venezuela, endure political turmoil. What kept you going through all of that?

What has kept me inspired is the generosity and the humanity of others—people donating their time, food and toys, and opening their doors to families. I have faith that soon the hard times will pass.

If you could have coffee with one famous dancer, who would that be?

Vicente Nebrada. He was the director of National Ballet of Caracas, in my hometown. I would thank him for giving my country a place where artists could dance, and for choosing to represent our culture in many of his ballets by using traditional music, folk dance and adding Latino flavor. It makes me proud of where I come from and what my country represents in the ballet world.

González with Chun Wai Chan in Justin Peck's Reflections

Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet

What's your biggest indulgence?

I am always snacking throughout the day, especially if it's crunchy. Also, I have a cold Coca-Cola after a good show—it's maybe not the best option, but it is the most satisfying.

What do we not know about you?

My mom and I, with the help of friends and family members, are creating a nonprofit organization in Venezuela called KG Tus Manos y Mis Manos to help our community, especially kids, during these hard times.

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