Dancing around the world with Felipe Domingos
Felipe Domingos is one of the latest additions to the CND. He is also one of its youngest dancers. Born and raised in São Paulo (Brazil), he has movement and dance in his blood. Despite his youth, he has danced across three continents and dozens of countries. Now he is adapting to ours in an environment that he describes as “incredible”.
Your first steps as a dancer were when you were only seven years old thanks to your uncle. Why did he encourage you to dance? When did you discover that dance was your passion? Do you remember how you felt then?
My uncle was dancing and teaching at the time, I remember he was invited to start a dance group at a church that we go to back in São Paulo and they basically had nobody to dance. One day I was playing with my neighbors and he asked me to go with him, I came along initially just as an extra person for the group, I had no desire to stay. as time went by we started to do lots of exciting things and I found contentment whenever I was practicing, but only when I was eleven I went into a local ballet school to get a proper classical training.
I like to say that it’s my calling, I didn’t go after it, dance found me.
You were born and raised in Brazil, a country with a vast culture, a great passion for dance and a worldwide reputation for samba. What is it like to be a classical and contemporary dancer there?
We (Brazilians) are movers by nature, it’s in our DNA. You will probably find at least one Brazilian dancer in any ballet company around the world. It’s a shame that things are not as easy if you stay there. There are not a lot of investment for the arts in general, so it’s very complicated at times. But there are a few companies in Brazil that are fighting the good fight and making sure that these dancers have a place to be and they are doing an amazing job at it.
You grew up in a very matriarchal environment, surrounded by women. Do you consider that this fact has affected your values as a dancer? How have these women influenced your professional life?
The women in my family are amazing!!
They are the reason I’m here today, they have given me values such as love, generosity, passion, perseverance and I try to put these into every thing that I do, on/off stage. At the end of the day who you are shows when you’re dancing, there’s no way to hide it, if I’m a better person I’ll for sure become a better dancer.
After participating in the Youth American Grand Prix New York Finals in 2014, you received a full scholarship to the New Zealand School of Dance. What did this opportunity mean for you?
The opportunity to study in New Zealand was life changing, I moved there in January of 2015 with my best friend from Rio de Janeiro. I spent one year at the school and two and a half with the National Ballet Company. I met some of the most amazing teachers over there and made friends for life. I have to say it was scary at first, it was the first time that I would be away from my family for a whole year but I was fortunate to have the director of the school Garry Trinder and Christine Gunn with me the whole way. They are like parents to me, they made sure nothing was missing from the day that I arrived until my very last minute there. It was for sure some of the best years of my life.
You have danced in the Royal New Zealand Ballet and the National Ballet of Finland. What differences do you find between these countries, so different from each other, and Spain?
Well, these two companies are very different; When I joined the Royal New Zealand Ballet in 2016 we were around 50 dancers only, in Finland it was 90, almost double the amount of people. I needed to learn everything about what it meant to be a professional, so It was ideal for me to start in a smaller company such as RNZB, I got opportunities, we toured around the whole country which was my favourite part. it’s a lot similar with what we do here at CND.
You arrived in Spain a few months ago and joined the National Dance Company last summer, under the artistic direction of Joaquín De Luz. How has the welcome been? How are you experiencing Madrid as a city? What do you like most about living here and what do you miss the most?
It’s been amazing, I was super happy with the welcome from the dancers, artistic staff, everyone has been very kind to me. Madrid is a lovely city, it’s a smaller version of my hometown São Paulo, it feels like home already.
In the Compañía Nacional de Danza you are dancing Apollo by George Balanchine and Pulcinella, by Blanca Li, both with music by Igor Stravinsky. How has the experience been? What other works would you like to dance?
This is my first full program with the company, it’s super special to have music by Stravinsky in it, especially because some of my dream ballets like Agon, Symphony in three movements by George Balanchine are also with music by Igor Stravinsky. I would love to also dance one day Dances at a Gathering by Jerome Robbins, Blake works by William Forsythe and Manon by Sir Kenneth Macmillan, I mean the list is endless but these are my top 5 at the moment.
With such a demanding profession, you have probably had to give up many things from a very young age. What is it like, for example, to live so far away from your family and friends? How are you living the pandemic away from your loved ones?
I’m an only child, so I’ve always been attached to my family. Living away from them it’s very hard and I don’t think it will ever get easier, we just learn how to manage it better by understanding that all the sacrifice is for good. I believe nothing comes easy, there’s a price for everything we do in life, I’m just very lucky that my family is very supportive and are willing do get on board with me no matter the adventure. No everyone one has that.
In addition to your training in classical and contemporary dance, do you dance any other style?
When I was younger I would bounce around many styles of dance, I did a bit of samba, salsa, capoeira, jazz, I even tried street dancing but I was terrible at it.
You are one of the youngest dancers in the CND corps de ballet. What would you like to see happen in the next ten years?
Being one of the youngest it’s a privilege because I get to watch the more experienced dancers and learn from them. I like to pay attention to everything that they do, how they do it and apply it in my own way.
My wish for the future it’s to be on stage as much as possible, I want to grown everyday as an artist, as a performer so I can use every opportunity that comes my way to the fullest.
FELIPE DOMINGOS – CORPS DE BALLET
Interview: Elvira Casado