Dancer José Manuel Carreño says adiós to the ABT
- Submitted by: manso
- Arts and Culture
- 07 / 01 / 2011
The stellar 16-year career of José Manuel Carreño with the American Ballet Theatre comes to its New York end today when the Cuban dancer performs, to a soldout audience, one of the roles that has made him famous.
"Carreño says adiós to the ABT; it´s my decision, but I will continue dancing," says the 43-year-old Havana native. "I feel that is the moment to continue going forward, experimenting with other things."
For the farewell at the Metropolitan Opera House, Carreño is scheduled to perform the role of Prince Siegfried in "Swan Lake."
"For me, the hardest is classical ballet ... because it´s very demanding on the body," said the dancer, who did his first pirouettes in the storied Cuban National Ballet School founded by Alicia Alonso.
"I can do everything much better than before, with more maturity and more experience," he insists, "but doing these ballets of two or three hours on stage is super-exhausting."
Carreño has been part of the ABT during a period when dancers of Latin heritage have staked a solid presence in the prestigious company. He is one of six Hispanics - including Paloma Herrera and Xiomara Reyes - who are currently principal dancers at the ABT.
"I am very proud to be Latino, and I believe that unquestionably, in the last 15 or 20 years, there´s been a Latino explosion in dance," he says in Spanish.
"Maybe our sensuality and expressiveness differentiates us from other people. For me, these years with the ABT have been years of pleasure, of glory."
Carreño´s career took off in 1987, when he won the Gold Medal at the New York International Ballet Competition, followed in 1990 by the Grand Prix at the International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Miss.
That same year, he left Cuba with a contract to join the English National Ballet in London and later danced with the Royal Ballet. In the summer of 1995, he joined the ABT as a principal dancer.
One of the most moving moments of his career, he says, was last November, when he got to dance with the ABT at Havana´s International Ballet Festival.
"After such a long time with this company, a dream came true," he says of the visit.
"There´s great knowledge of dance in Cuba. Since Alicia Alonso has popularized dance across the island, it´s incredible. The fans know the dancers, the steps, know everything," adds Carreño, who also teaches ballet.
But success has come at a price, particularly in terms of time, says the divorced father of two daughters.
"Sometimes I would like to share more time with my girls, and I can´t, because I´m dancing or traveling all year," he says.
After the New York season of the ABT wraps up on July 9, the company will go on tour to Los Angeles and Japan. Carreño´s final performance with the ABT will be "Don Quixote" in Hyogo, Japan, on July 30.
"I think I´ll continue doing classical things and choreography, maybe work on Broadway or one week dance ´Don Quixote,´" he says, "and then rest."