Dancing around the world with Ana Pérez-Nievas
Ana was born in Madrid. She began her ballet studies at a small school in Pozuelo de Alcorcón. When she was eleven years old, she decided to take the leap and study dance professionally. At the age of seventeen, and recently graduated, she joined the Compañía Nacional de Danza under the artistic direction of José Carlos Martínez. In 2019, under the direction of Joaquín De Luz, he rose to the category of soloist.
Your first steps in dance happened at a small school in Pozuelo de Alarcón: the Miriam Sicilia Ballet School. How did dance enter your life?
I was a girl with a complex and singular inner world. From a very young age I put on little plays for my sister and my parents or just for myself. My parents thought that taking me to dance lessons might be a good idea to find expression and channel all that energy. I never went there reluctantly. I started at Miriam’s school doing a couple of times a week but it soon turned into more. I was sometimes a bit envious of my schoolmates for having more of a social life but, as soon as I got to the academy, I forgot everything.
Nonetheless, when you were just eleven, you decided to take the leap with dance, opting to study at the Mariemma Professional Dance Conservatory. What prompted you to make that decision?
The idea of applying to the conservatory was brought up when I was eight, but I was a bit in awe and reluctant to leave my comfort zone and said no. In reality it was one of life’s coincidences that it came up at eleven. I was left without a place at the public high school where all my classmates were going to go. That was because I lived a little further away. So, I thought that if I had to change the people around me, I may as well apply to the conservatory. And so it was. It almost seemed life was taking me where it wanted. It was quite difficult for me to adapt to the rhythm of the conservatory and to my new classmates. In fact, it was not until the 3rd year of Classical Dance that I began to feel my first infatuations with the profession and everything that surrounds it; the musicality, the perfectionism, the daring, the harmony, the discipline.
At seventeen, and with your studies close to finishing, you auditioned for the Compañía Nacional de Danza and were lucky enough to be selected by José Carlos Martínez. How do you remember the moment you received the news?
I remember my audition for the CND with great affection. When I found out that there were only two places, and I saw such a high level in so many candidates, I decided to relax and enjoy myself as much as I knew. I fell in love with Leona Sivôs. As soon as I got into my father’s car I told him about her, she danced so freely and easily… She came in a little later than me and we became besties to this day. The day after the audition I had a history exam (I still had to finish high school and do the university entry exam) and I couldn’t concentrate, I put my phone on airplane mode and when I looked at it again I had five missed calls. When I called back, José Carlos Martínez broke the news to me and my family and I ended up crying with emotion on the kitchen floor.
At some point, would you like to get to know dance outside of Spain living and working abroad?
Yes, I would love to get to know other companies, to be inspired by other dancers. Somehow I feel that if I don’t make this leap, my career will remain incomplete.
In 2019, under the direction of Joaquín De Luz, you rise to the category of soloist dancer. What does this opportunity mean to you?
My promotion to soloist with the CND was the validation of my personal work bearing fruit. It coincided with a period of exhaustive research that was not only carried out in the company’s studios but also at home. I learned to study the pieces thoroughly, to seek pleasure in all of them (although I didn’t like them all the same) … to find qualities and sensations.
Throughout your career at the CND you have got to dance pieces from a very varied repertoire: classics such as Don Quixote, by José Carlos Martínez, contemporary ones such as Artifact Suite or the famous Carmen by Johan Inger. What style do you identify with most?
I identify more and more with contemporary dance. Since I started this career, my values have been shaped in such a way that they move further and further away from the more conservative nature of classical dance. Perhaps if the classical repertoire and its themes evolved in the same way that society is doing, slightly modifying the main characters of the great ballets, such as leaving behind the submissive woman as the protagonist and the empowered woman as the antagonist…
We know that you suffered a very serious injury a year ago from which you are still recovering. Can you tell us what happened? Did you have surgery? How is the recovery going? We are very interested in knowing that angle of a dancer’s life… it can happen, it happens… What mental exercise do you need to do to stay strong and motivated so that the return is safe and with more energy and desire than ever?
I am rehabbing from the most serious injury I have had to date: a torn medial meniscus and anterior cruciate ligament. It’s taking a bit long for me because I’ve already had two operations (after the first one, the meniscus was partially torn again and the cruciate ligament got distended). But I’m also finding a positive side to it. I am getting to know a new me, because I have never been so long without dancing before. I started therapy months before the injury and of course I go regularly: it has taken on a place of vital importance in my life.
Finally, how would you like to celebrate your birthday this year?
I would like to spend this birthday surrounded by my family. As the pandemic has taken away this privilege for a while, I now find no greater pleasure than this.
ANA PÉREZ-NIEVAS – SOLOIST DANCER CND
Interview by: Natalia del Buey