Dancing around the world with Juan José Carazo
Juan José Carazo began his studies at the Real Conservatorio Profesional de Danza Mariemma. In 2011 he participated in the summer program of the School of American Ballet and a year later he began working at the American Ballet Theater II. In 2015 he joined the National Dance Company under the artistic direction of José Carlos Martínez.
How would you define yourself as a dancer?
How would I define myself as a dancer? Now that really is a difficult question to answer to be honest. A dancer changes a lot over their artistic career. When you are young and have just finished conservatory or dance school, you just want to learn, improve, fly, etc. In that sense, I am still that same Juanjo. I’ve always strived to improve, to push beyond what I was not capable of doing before.
There’s one thing I’d like to point out: I have been, and am, a dancer who has not been given anything for free. There are few in this world that can say the same nowadays.
As a dancer, but also as a person, I would describe myself as persevering, consistent, hard-working, different and, above all, positive.
Your first steps in dance begin with your studies at Mariemma Royal Proffessional Dance Conservatory in Madrid. What made you to start there?
Actually, my first ballet class was when I was four years old, in a small dance school, Esther Recuero, where I stayed until I was eight years old.
Of course, at eight, I was not really the one who decided I would study at the Mariemma Royal Professional Conservatory; it was my mother.
I remember that day as if it were yesterday, when my mother asked me: Juanjo, do you want to continue with ballet and dance? I said yes, because it was fun and I liked it. My mother told me that if I wanted to continue dancing, I would have to change schools. At that time the world fell in on me. I didn’t want to change. But, I finally did the conservatory entrance exam and I got in.
In 2011 you took up the opportunity to take part in the School of American Ballet’s summer program in New York, and you continued your studies there for a year. What did this experience bring you?
It brought me so many things, experiences, insight, etc. The year was unique; it was New York city, where you could not feel more welcomed.
Funnily enough, the person who gave me a grant to take the SAB summer course was my current director, Joaquín De Luz. During the summer course, they invited me to stay on for the last year of the SAB in order to graduate.
A year later, you start working at the American Ballet Theater II with top-tear teachers. What sticks out for you about them? Do you consider them your main points of reference?
Almost every teacher I have worked with is a reference point for me, as it is they that helped me be the dancer I am today. But I do consider that year as a milestone, as I learned so much by watching dancers in my classes or rehearsals like Ivan Vasiliev, Roberto Bolle, Daniil Simkin, Paloma Herrera, etc.
In 2013, you start training at the Orlando Ballet and a year later you become a part of it. What was it like transitioning to a European ballet after living that experience in America?
I worked at the Orlando Ballet for two years; the first year contracted as an apprentice and the second as a member of the company.
It’s funny how dance, style and the way of dancing can be so different depending on the country or the continent. Of course, the pace at American companies is much faster than in most of the European countries.
You were able to dance different classical ballets there, such as Swan Lake, Coppelia or The Nutcracker. What was the work process like?
It was a lot of fun. Every two or three months we would perform a different ballet on stage. You learn a lot in a very short period of time.
In 2015 you joined the Compañía Nacional de Danza (CND) under the direction of José Carlos Martínez. What did this change mean for you?
It meant a very big change in my life. I did not expect to return to Spain so young. It was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. But my plan was to stay at the CND for no longer than two years and then fly again to other countries and other companies. But here I am, in my seventh season. I really like my country, my people and above all being close to my loved ones.
Currently it is Joaquín De Luz who directs the CND. How would you define him?
I would define him as a family type director. Joaquín De Luz is obviously influenced by the American dance style, which has certain characteristics I just love, personally. The speed, the spins, the jumps and the energy are some of the characteristics that Joaquín has brought with him to the CND.
In the Company you not only danced classical choreographies but also more contemporary ones such as Remansos by Nacho Duato or Arriaga by Joaquín De Luz, Mar Aguiló and Pino Alosa. What style do you identify with the most?
I am a dancer who has always been fascinated by classical dance and its black hole. It is a discipline that requires perfection and is therefore unattainable. I think that’s the beauty of classical dance. As I have grown as a dancer, I have discovered that neoclassical movement comes fairly easily to me. Even so, I do not like labels; I prefer to consider myself as a versatile dancer who likes to learn new styles and above all to improve them.
We know that you have your own personal dance company project: Nexus. Please tell us a little about it. Besides directing, do you choreograph and dance? What plans do you have in the short term?
The Nexus Company is a very ambitious long-term project. We aim to provide products related to dance and entertainment that currently do not exist; from short pieces of any discipline, such as contemporary dance or Spanish dance, to shows contrasting different artistic styles.
Finally, what goals do you have moving forward? How do you plan to celebrate your birthday?
Goals moving forward? Lots! Plans? Many and none. I like to live in the present and enjoy it. The future? It’s a mystery!
JUAN JOSÉ CARAZO – CORPS DE BALLET CND
Interview by Natalia del Buey