Dancing around the world with Irene Ureña
Irene is a dancer from Almuñécar and who, at just the age of two, started out in the world of dance at Almuñecar’s Aromar dance academy. At the age of eight she joined the Conservatorio Profesional de Danza Reina Sofía, in Granada, with Alejandro Donaire as her teacher. In 2010, she moved to Madrid to continue her studies at the Real Conservatorio Profesional de Danza Mariemma, where she graduated in 2013. Two years later she joined the Compañía Nacional de Danza, under the artistic direction of José Carlos Martínez.
Good morning Irene. How are you? And a very happy birthday.
I’m very well, thank you.
OK. Tell us … in the professions related to the world of the arts, the word vocation is very often present. Where does your passion for dance come from?
To be honest, I don’t really know where it comes from … maybe … Well, there are many artists in my family; mostly musicians. But in dance, I started at the age of two when my mother took my sister to the academy and I wanted to stay there too. The teacher thought I’d soon get bored as I was so little; but here we are, still (laughter).
We all have our muse – people who inspire us. Who are your reference points and why?
Marianela Núñez is really an exemplary dancer to me—both as a dancer and as a person. She is always humble and honest in her work… She’s been an influence to me since I was twelve.
You’ve studied at different places in Spain and abroad, though for seven years Alejandro Donaire was your teacher. What was the most important thing he taught you?
Constancy in your work and the belief that everything is achieved through effort. He was a big believer in that and I value it highly, together with dedication and commitment.
When you put yourself forward for the CND auditions there were over 200 others trying to get in also. Did you have, or do you have a plan B or did you not even entertain that?
To be honest, I’d prepared a summer tour of Europe with some auditions lined up but, luckily (laughs) I got to here. f
On being the first student form the Conservatorio de Danza Reina Sofía to join the CND, did you feel some responsibility towards the dancers of Granada?
I always try to give my best and that is all I have to offer. But rather than responsibility, what I’ve noticed from the conservatory in Granada is a lot of support right from the beginning, when they came to see shows or to visit the headquarters. I think that for the younger ones, to see somebody from a that conservatory come to work in this is something that can help them. Although ours is not so well known as the Mariemma, it may inspire them to work harder.
Do you feel like the big sister?
Well (laughs) luckily there are many people who have come out of the conservatory who are dancing in Europe. They are in different companies or are working freelance and that really makes me feel good so, in the end, I share it with them.
Is there anything you miss about Granada? Food, places, climate …
The day-to-day tranquility maybe. I don’t know. The people there are kind to you; the pace of life is slower. So, I guess I’d say: the people, the tranquility and being close to nature. I guess here you can also escape but, there, you are on the beach in a flash, or in the mountains. For me, Granada is such a privileged place. .
Madrid is hectic?
Yes, much more. But it also has its good side; you never get bored here. There’s also a greater range of opportunities of all types.
What do you like most about dancing; I mean making dance your lifestyle?
I love the way dance always poses new challenges. And you have to find the means to meet them, which also affects your life because it makes you very disciplined; it makes you see how you can achieve things with hard work; at the end of the day, it directly affects your life, in and out of work.
Apart from dance, what other art forms do you like? Who do you share them with?
Music has always been part of my life from the get go, both with my family and classical music, as I said, and commercial music. It really helps with my routine and, in fact, I start the day off listening to music.
And, well, now, I’m learning the ukulele (laughs). And painting; I’ve always loved it. It’s something a share with my sister and my mother… well, whenever it is possible.
What is your fondest memory related with dance?
Coming to Madrid has been pivotal. It was with that step that I decided that I was really going to devote myself to this, as it mean leaving my family in Granada at the age of 15. It’s thanks to Alejandro Donaire that I’m here. He showed me that this possibility existed and thanks there also go to my family, who have always supported me. Of course, entering the Company was a big real step, the most important one; but everything changed when I came to Madrid.
And regarding my professional life, I have a lot of precious memories. I couldn’t just choose one. I guess I’d say the moments in the studio and on stage that have made me grow.
Having done all that, if you could talk with your old self of the past, what would you tell her about dance?
To keep working at it, keeping the dream in sight, that all will come in the end.
And to finish, seeing that it is your birthday, we need to toast it, no? So, a classic question: are you more a wine person or do you prefer a pint?
I don’t like alcohol but, well, if I must choose, I’d choose wine. But a sweet wine, almost a “mosto” grape juice (laughs)
IRENE UREÑA – CORPS DE BALLET CND
Interview by: Monserrat Martínez