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    Marianela Nunez 2019

    Marianela Nunez

    Principal, The Royal Ballet

    Interviewed by David Bain
    Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, April 17 2019

    (We apologise that this is a shorter report than usual. Unfortunately, the Association’s recorder broke down and much of Marianela’s fascinating talk was not recorded.) 

    Marianela was born in Buenos Aires and began dancing at the age of three. When she was six she began training at the Teatro Colon Ballet School, joining the Teatro Colon Company aged 14. She confessed that it had been a long time before she had returned home again but that her former ballet teacher felt strongly that she should, as a result of which she took part in a gala in the school's old neighbourhood. Her teacher originally had only eight students, but the school now has around one thousand and the gala she first attended has become so popular that they had to put on two performances and the galas now take place every year as well as touring around the country.

    David asked Marianela to talk about her collaboration with choreographer and former Royal Ballet luminary, Ronald Hynd, who had invited her to perform in his ballet, The Merry Widow. - which incidentally she thinks would suit The Royal Ballet very well. Describing him as a 'real gentleman' who brought 'theatrical magic' to his work. They have remained in touch he came to her recent 20th anniversary performance of Giselle at The Royal Opera House. While she regretted that she had not met his late wife, former Royal Ballet dancer, Annette Page, he brought a picture of him and Annette in Giselle to Marianela's celebratory performance.

    Under the current directorial regime of Kevin O'Hare, Marianela expressed great gratitude at Kevin's generosity in allowing the Company's dancers to guest - in her case especially in Italy where she has danced at La Scala, Milan, San Carlo in Napoli and in Rome, including leading roles in Onegin and Giselle. She has also performed Swan Lake in Vienna., as well as a range of works with other major international companies. Despite the difficulties involved in the logistics of travelling, she relishes the challenge of having to appear in different productions of the same ballets.

    Asked if she saw herself as an Ashton dancer, she said she was in the happy position of feeling comfortable with all choreographers, though by now she had danced most of Ashton's repertoire and covered all his main roles. Her first experience was playing Lise in La Fille Mal Garde - a memory which she treasures, including a filmed performance with Carlos Acosta in 2005/6. She was especially glad to have performed more recently in A Month in the Country. She also described herself as being in the equally lucky position of never really having to say what she wanted as the parts arrived anyway, including quite a few performances as Lescaut's Mistress in MacMillan's Manon. Sylvie Guillem was still in the Company at that stage and Marianela has vivid memories of them sharing a stage in Japan and just how wildly enthusiastic the Japanese were about Sylvie. It is a country she very much looks forward to revisiting, not least because of their enthusiastic support for and love of ballet.

    Marianela loves Balanchine's work, especially Jewels and Symphony in C, for their 'timeless' musicality and intelligence

    Sharing her enthusiasm for other choreographers, she loves Balanchine's work, especially Jewels and Symphony in C, for their 'timeless' musicality and intelligence. The legacy that he and others, such as Jerome Robbins, have left us is 'incredible'. So far as her own career is concerned, she believes she was fortunate in the way that it unfolded, joining the Teatro Colon at only 14 and taking on corps and soloist roles and appearing as a guest artist with Maximiliano Gueurra. While she thinks it important to find your own way, she nevertheless recognises and values the contribution made by many great predecessors, including Monica Mason and Sir Anthony Dowell. Being coached by Natalia Makarova in La Bayadere, for example, was akin to 'being taken on a journey', and now that she herself is more mature, she has a deeper understanding of what Makarova was trying to impart.

    Her passion for taking on as many and varied roles as possible is undimmed and she was especially grateful that Kevin O'Hare celebrated her 20th anniversary with The Royal Ballet with Giselle, not least because she has such admiration for Sir Peter Wright's production, as indeed for all his work. The event was one of the highlights of her first 20 years with the Company as she paid tribute to the 'massive part' that the audience plays in her popularity and success. That said, she remained adamant that she wants to have a lengthy career and dance as long as possible, including wanting to dance the tango. Whether that meant her turning into 'the next Carla Fracci' remained an open question, but she would also like to pass on her experience to a younger generation, and admires the way in which Kevin O'Hare has brought in 'so many old faces' to help sustain a balance between legacy and the future.

    One of the audience members asked Nela about her film to Nina Simone music.  She finds it impossible to choose a favourite role as she so much enjoys the sheer range available to her, any more than she would want to pick a favourite partner having danced with luminaries like Carlos Acosta, Thiago Soares, Federico Bonelli and Vadim Muntagirov and enjoyed a good rapport with all of them. 

    The Association looks forward to her next 21 years with the company.


    Report written by Ann Dawson, edited by Marianela Nuñez and David Bain© The Ballet Association 2019