Cupcakes and Conversation with Elisa Badenes, Demi-Soloist, Stuttgart Ballet
I first interviewed Elisa Badenes as she graduated from The Royal Ballet School in 2009. It’s time to catch up with her again !
What motivates you at 8 a.m. on a Monday morning ?
Luckily it’s more 8.30 a.m.! I’m not so much of a morning person. What finally gets me out of bed is the perspective of a good coffee, and my body telling me: It’s time for a stretch, so let’s get moving!
Why ballet ?
More or less by chance: I grew up in a town where there wasn’t much ballet to see, but I became quite good in gymnastics, for which we also had to take ballet classes. Nobody liked them – only me! It just seemed to suit my body, it felt good. So my gymnastics teacher motivated me to audition for the conservatory. During the audition I remember being asked to put my pointe shoes on, and I didn’t even know what that was!!! But I got in, and felt it was the right decision from the start.
What are you looking forward to dancing this year ?
I’m really looking forward to John Cranko’s Swan Lake this season – it’s going to be my very first Swan Lake ever! Also we are preparing a mixed bill, Körpersprache³, with three world premieres by Mauro Bigonzetti, Edward Clug and Marco Goecke, so I can see these pieces grow in the studios – a great experience.
If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance ?
I would find it fascinating to dance in a wide open space, without bounds – in a huge football stadium like the one in Madrid for example. It wouldn’t be about the crowds, the stadium could be empty, I would simply love to feel so much space around me dancing.
How do you prepare your pointe shoes ?
Actually the same as everybody else, I am lucky enough not to need anything special about my shoes.
What is your daily routine at the moment ?
I get up and have breakfast, then leave for morning training in the theatre. Usually my working day at the Opera House starts at 10 a.m. and lasts until 5 or 6 p.m., plus the performances at night, of course. On the free nights I like to relax, see friends, I also like to go out, but after a long day in the studio – and specially now with the winter coming – I spend a lot of my free time at home, hanging out, and hiding from the cold.
What do you eat during the course of a typical working day ?
I have a good breakfast at home, and for the breaks at work I often bring food or go to the theatre canteen. But most days I have a warm meal at night, I like to cook, I do good pasta for example. Just some days ago I stupidly cut myself on the hand, cooking, and couldn’t use it properly for a while. Maybe cooking is too dangerous of a hobby for me…
You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite ?
I don’t make a very good fan, so it wouldn’t be about names or fame so much. But I love interesting mixes of people, and I’m very curious, so I’d invite different personalities like an actress, a humourist, a musician, an olympic swimmer and a Nobel Prize winner in Mathematics. And a cook!
What would surprise people about you ?
That I love Rock ‘n Roll.
Who inspired you to dance ?
I couldn’t say that there was one person who inspired me to dance in the first place, it came more out of myself, my body. But since coming to Stuttgart I have been surrounded by so many wonderful dancers and choreographers who come to work here, this theatre just seems to be an inexhaustible source of inspiration.
How do you prepare in the hours before a show ?
That depends a little bit on the role I’ll dance, but mostly I get to the theatre early, take my time, and stay kind of in my own bubble. Before the curtain rises, I like to go on stage and feel the floor and the atmosphere.
Which role has tested you the most & how ?
Two of the most challenging pieces for me were the ones I performed at the Erik Bruhn Competition last season: Don Quichote (Petipa) and Little Monsters (Volpi). These pieces are both technically very difficult, and of course in the competition every step counts… Also I found it exciting to show two works that are so very different in a row: The classical Don Quichote, and contemporary Little Monsters, which had just been created for me and my partner Daniel Camargo – to Elvis tunes!
If you were asked to design your own ballet costume, what would you create ?
I’m tempted to say “a sweat suit!” I really like to dress comfortably and hate it when a costume hinders me from moving freely in any way. But for stage it would surely be something that emphasizes and adds to the movement of the dancing body, like a huge skirt or super long sleeves.
What do you look for in a dance partner ?
With a dance partner, trust is the most important thing to me. Of course I find it reassuring to dance with a guy who is tall and strong and knows exactly what he’s doing, but in the end what counts is that you function together, that no one dances alone. I love it when in rehearsal the feeling of taking care of each other grows, and you give each other security.
What is your favourite quote ?
One thing that often comes back to me when I’m excited or insecure is my mum wishing me “Que los angeles te guarden” (“May the angels keep you safe”), before I go on stage, for example. I really believe what you need, after learning and working hard, is also a little confidence and faith in that the angels will do their part, too :o)
What’s been your best on-stage moment so far ?
I’d say it was also in Toronto at the Erik Bruhn Competition, when all awards were already given away – we thought – and then me and my partner were awarded the Audience’s Choice! The feedback by the audience was just amazing! Also it was wonderful bringing the piece Demis Volpi created for this competition in Toronto home to Stuttgart: We had the greatest moments with Little Monsters in the Theaterhaus Stuttgart!
In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be in a year from now ?
To be honest, I am very bad at thinking more ahead than a week! I have the feeling that I just got started with my career, for now I want to be exactly where I’m at.
If you could dance in front of anyone, who would it be and what makes them special to you?
That would certainly be my family and my first ballet teacher in Valencia! They have not had a chance to see me dance for years now – yet I have the feeling I have learned so much and can express so much more today than I could back then. I would love to share that with my family at home.
Watch Elisa dance