Jan 14, 2020
This week on 5.6.7.EIGHT, Aleksandra speaks with Elna Matamoros, Ballet Mistress at Ballet Nacional de España. Born and raised in Madrid, Elna was trained in dance by her mother, following the Danish National Ballet School. Elna then moved to the United States to attend the Joffrey Ballet School, prior to spending a decade with Ballet Nacional de España. After a stint with Compañia Nacional de Danza, Matamoros rejoined Ballet Nacional de España in 2019. In addition to her accomplishments with dance companies, Elna is the published writer of three books and holds a PhD in Aesthetics from Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.
Having spent over two decades teaching and writing about dance, Elna spends time the podcast sharing insights from her deep well of wisdom. In the conversation, Elna paints the picture of a dancer at the Ballet Nacional de España, shares advice around keeping longstanding routines fresh and new, describes how her writing has influenced her performance on the stage, and ultimately challenges her listeners to go beyond their traditional ideas about dance, broaden their horizons and explore new ideas.
“We spend so much time in front of the mirror practicing our form. But there is life behind turns. There is life beyond the mirror. So go and think and talk to people and exchange ideas. Learn new styles and talk to other artists. Because all of that made dance what it is today."
“I think that ballet training is the best training for any dancer from any kind of dance."
“Sometimes life directs you in the right way. And sometimes we don’t realize until years past."
“I like writing. I like the research that you have to do prior to writing. And I feel that my work as a ballet mistress has improved a lot because of my research for writing."
“Being a dancer in my company involves really hard training, but, like everything, if you start when you’re little, you can manage."
[On keeping her dance classes fresh] “There is no guarantee that I’ll be here tomorrow teaching class. So, teach today like this is going to be your last class. And you have to be proud of your last class."
“I think it’s so important to make mistakes in life. We have to take risks."
[On writing about dance] “I think dance is like a diamond with different faces, and all of them are very valuable — priceless. So, why not write about them?"
Bullet Points (w/ timestamps) - Highlighting key topics discussed:
2:35: Elna discusses what drew her towards the Ballet Nacional de España.
6:12: Elna walks through a typical day for a dancer of the Ballet Nacional de España.
9:22: Matamoros speaks on her accomplished writing career and how her writing is integral to improving her dance (and vice versa).
12:45: Elna, who is a lover of learning, shares some advice for any dancers that are looking to diversify their area of expertise.
14:25: Matamoros describes the pride she feels for having taught the same classes in the same place for 18 years and shares how she keeps her routine fresh for herself and her students.
18:25: Elna retells one of her life’s failures and how that situation eventually worked in her favor.
21:13: Elna discusses what initially drew her towards the ballet and the dynamics of having a mother who is also your ballet teacher.
24:17: Matamoros describes her experience in New York City as a young dancer, studying at the Joffrey Ballet.
26:02: Elna draws from her past experiences to share some advice for dancers who are about to relocate to a different country to join a dance company.
27:37: Elna discusses her future plans, which include writing a fourth book and traveling the world.
Bullet List of Resources –
Ballet Nacional de España