Ballet Stars

Ángel Corella On His Plans for Pennsylvania Ballet

Ángel Corella. Pablo Hojas, Courtesy PAB.

"That was fast" is an understatement. In July, after only two months of searching, Pennsylvania Ballet announced Ángel Corella—a longtime star of American Ballet Theatre who recently directed his own company, the Barcelona Ballet in Spain—as its new artistic director. Corella spoke with Pointe about his future plans.

What drew you to Pennsylvania Ballet?

I was familiar with PAB, since my sister and her ex-husband used to dance here. I've always admired the talent in the company and their great repertoire. Since dissolving Barcelona Ballet, I'd been thinking about coming back to the States to direct a company, and PAB was one of the first that came to mind. Funny enough, a few months later, the position opened.

Do you plan on making changes right away?

I'll ease into it. I don't plan on changing the structure because I think it's already a great company with a very clear look. What I will do is inject it with the passion and love that I have for dance.

What do you look for in a dancer?

The main things are passion, a willingness to work and trust. There's nothing worse than a dancer completely blocked and closed to change, because they won't go where you want to take them.

Are there any choreographers you want to bring in?

I would love to have Christopher Wheeldon, Justin Peck, Liam Scarlett, Wayne McGregor, Édouard Lock, Sol León and Paul Lightfoot. Matthew Neenan is our resident choreographer, and I want to continue that relationship. I also want to search for new choreographers within the company and around the nation.

What did you learn from your experience in Spain?

Companies here don't have much support from the government, but at least people can donate to the arts in exchange for a tax deduction. In Spain, there's no other way to fundraise besides asking the government for help, and they gave us minimal support. Sometimes I sewed costumes because we didn't have people to do it, so I'm very aware of everything that goes on in a company.

The Conversation
Ballet Stars
Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB

Your teacher at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Marcia Dale Weary, recently passed away. What impact did she have on you?

I feel deeply indebted to her. She shaped my life's course, and I know that were it not for her, I would not be living out my dream today. She led by example through her remarkable commitment to her work, as well as her genuine kindness and generosity.

You were a trainee with San Francisco Ballet. What was that experience like?

It was an exposure to different schools of thought. We were mostly in the full-lengths, and watching run-throughs of Sleeping Beauty and Don Quixote was revolutionary for me. But I was young and far away from home. That transition was hard. My body started changing. It wanted to be fleshy. Biology is cruel in that way. I desperately wanted to fit in, but it wasn't meant to be.

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