Handsome Is AND Handsome Does
An Interview with Igor Yebra
by Patrizia Vallone
December 16, 2003 -- Rome
Igor Yebra is a very handsome, 29-year-old Basque. He started studying dance in Bilbao, his home town; a year later, he entered Victor Ullate's dance school in Madrid. He was still very young when he joined the Ballet de la Comunidad de Madrid, where he performed mostly contemporary ballets.
As danseur noble, he
has performed all the major classical and Romantic roles, including Albrecht
("Giselle"), Siegfried ("Swan Lake"), Florimond ("Sleeping
Beauty"), James ("La Sylphide"), the Prince ("The
Nutcracker"), Franz ("Coppelia"), Basilio ("Don Quixote"),
and Solor ("La Bayadere").
He is currently guest principal
of the Bordeaux Ballet, directed by Charles Jude.
Itís even worse! A Spanish professional-level
dance school has no more than five or six boys!
My parents both loved dance and
had studied it, though not professionally. They loved going to performances
and passed this passion on to me -- it was a natural thing for me to try
to study dance. My parents always encouraged me.
No, unfortunately. That's why after
a year of dance school I had to move to Madrid, where I entered Victor
No, his school is absolutely classical.
We often had guest teachers from Russia or Cuba, who taught us a rigorous
academic technique. I was very lucky to meet Victor Ullate, who took me
into his company when I was really very young. I danced mostly modern,
No, I never went that far. Technically
speaking, all the modern ballets I've danced have been academic.
Certainly from the classical dance school I went to, which taught me to handle the repertoire adequately.
These past few years you have been dancing mostly on a free-lance basis. Do you manage to study and keep in shape while changing teachers and companies all the time?
Luckily, this past year and a half have been quite busy for me. It's the kind of life I've chosen and that I really like. I really enjoy doing barre exercises, and lessons are not torture for me, as they are for many of my colleagues. For me, a day without the barre is a day of life wasted. I always try to pick up something and learn all I can from all the teachers I meet. They all have experience to pass on, and I'm eager to receive it, to enrich myself and become better and better.
I'm very happy to be here in Rome,
with Carla Fracci, who's now part of the history of dance. I think itís
very important to work with such a great artist, who has so much to teach
me. In Bordeaux, I have the great opportunity of working with Charles
Jude, who was a great dancer in his time and is now a great teacher.
Not at all, I'm used to it by now,
and I've got enough experience to adapt to different ballerinas. Sometimes
it's they who are uncomfortable at first, because they're used to dancing
always with the same partner, but everything always works out all right.
Also, I learn from each ballerina, they all have something to teach me.
And now I've got the great chance of dancing for the first time with Svetlana
Zacharova, a truly great artist. I hope there will be other occasions
to do so in the future.
I love danseur noble roles; I find they offer many staging and expressive opportunities. It's true, though, that when I've danced too many princes one after the other, I feel like screaming! Luckily, modern dance comes to my aid, so that I can express myself and portray more realistic characters.
Right now I'm studying "Ivan
the Terrible," which I'm going to dance in Moscow with the Kremlin
Ballet, in January. I'm working with both Yuri Grigorovich and Yuri Vladimirov,
who created the role in 1975. It's a great honor to study with two such
great people. It's a very difficult part, both technically -- this is
where the great academic school I was lucky enough to attend comes to
my aid -- and in terms of expression. If necessary, I'll grow a beard!
Don't forget that Mikhail Fokine
created the role for himself. This ballet is a major chapter of dance
history. Ivan is onstage for the entire ballet, 40 minutes in all. All
the action, and therefore the whole performance, rests on him. All the
effort in this role lies in interpreting the character and in the concentration
you need to do that. So, though it presents no great technical difficulties,
the role is quite demanding and very tiring.
"Nutcracker" in Bordeaux
and "Ivan the Terrible" in Moscow, then weíll see.
I donít know, but I hope so.