Dec 10, 2019
This week on 5.6.7.EIGHT, Aleksandra speaks with Antonio Carmena, an international dance teacher and adjunct ballet professor who, prior to teaching, spent 19 years as a professional dancer, mostly as a soloist. Born and raised in Spain, Carmena spent no time making a splash in the dance community, winning a scholarship at the Prix de Lausanne to attend the School of American Ballet. After finishing, Antonio began performing with the New York City Ballet, where he spent the majority of his 19-year career before retiring in 2017.
On the podcast, Antonio and Aleksandra discuss a wide array of topics, including what drove Antonio to ballet, how the core of ballet is about the dancers, why older students are easier to teach than younger students, and how learning is a way of life. Specifically, Antonio brings up his own past experiences to encourage dancers to take care of their bodies and get ahead of injuries. According to Antonio, listening to your body is the key to keeping joy in dance and consistently delivering your best performances.
"No one enjoys dancing with pain… [When injured,] you don’t look your 100 percent best, which is how everyone should perform."
“If there’s something in your body that feels a little weird, don’t wait until it hurts — treat it before it reaches that point."
“I think dance helps you [mature faster as a person]. This discipline always matures people much faster than other disciplines."
“Not everyone needs to be the dancer. Go and find your place… You can always be surrounded by ballet if ballet is your passion."
“You can go see ballets over and over and, if you catch different people performing the roles, they’re going to transfer to you a whole different emotion or story. You can feel something that I might not feel and vice versa."
“When you get older but haven’t yet started performing for a company, you still have the passion of someone who wants to [dance]."
“[Whatever you do,] keep learning. I believe we’re all students of the world."
Bullet Points (w/ timestamps) - Highlighting key topics discussed:
2:32: Antonio discusses his earliest ballet memories and what drove him to pursue ballet at a professional level.
5:14: Antonio reflects on the emotions felt as he — a young 17-year-old — packed his bags and moved halfway across the world to attend New York City’s School of American Ballet.
9:51: Antonio discusses some of his favorite roles while at the School of American Ballet and spends some time comparing ballet to abstract art.
12:42: Carmena explains his current role as an adjunct professor and discusses the benefits of teaching older students versus younger students.
14:47: Carmena describes the value of humility when working for a dance company and how working with a company taught him to listen and manage his body.
16:35: Antonio discusses the pride he feels when considering how far he has come in his career, since his days in Spain.
18:15: Antonio reflects on a time when an injury robbed him of joy while dancing and how surgery, while he was out of dance for a few months, made ballet enjoyable again.
21:40: Carmena tells the hilarious story of how a theme park roller coaster made for one of the most memorable dances he’s ever performed.
24:41: Antonio speaks to the value of a college degree for those looking to pursue dance professionally.
26:23: Carmena discusses his future plans, which include always learning and being open to what the universe has for him.
Bullet List of Resources –