Adult Ballerina Project: When did you start doing ballet as an adult?
Nerea Fernández Martínez: I started two years ago, when I was 20.
ABP: Did you ever take lessons as a kid?
NFM: Yes, I started taking ballet lessons twice a week when I was 6. I used to go to school and learn Maths and Science like everybody else, and then in the afternoon I went to the gym to learn ballet with a beautiful teacher. We used to do performances at the end of each year, so I know what being onstage is like!
I continued dancing for seven years (I even got promoted to pointe) and then, when I was 13, I had to stop because the school decided not to offer those lessons anymore. It was very hard for me, but since I lived in a really small village, there was no other option: real schools were very far away from my home.
ABP: Why did you decide to take ballet as an adult?
NFM: I guess ballet has always been an important part of my life. Even if I had given up, I continued going to live performances and watching videos on the Internet. When I went to London to study at the university in 2010, I was lucky enough to go to the Royal Opera House and see Tamara Rojo in the role of Carmen. That experience changed my life. That’s when I decided I wanted to give ballet a second chance. When the next academic year started in Salamanca (Spain), I went to a local school and tried the beginner’s level. I fell in love with it once again! Since I was not a real adult beginner, I only spent some months in that level, getting back in shape and then I was told to move to intermediary and pointe shoes!
ABP: Where do you take classes?
NFM: When I was in Salamanca I used to go to Espacio Endanza, a very nice school with some amazing teachers. I spent two years there, performing with their company and making some really good friends. Now I am living in Paris since October and I’ve tried two schools: Studio Harmonic and Institut Stanlowa. I’ve decided to go to the second one regularly; I really like the atmosphere and the teachers are very nice and friendly. Most of them have studied at the Paris Opera Ballet School or are even part of the POB, so I feel really lucky!
I have to admit, though, that for me it’s quite difficult when I have to go to a new school. I like getting used to someone’s way of teaching, and seeing a new teacher gets me very confused at the beginning. But I think trying different classes is good for us; it helps us learn new things!
ABP: What is your favorite part about ballet?
NFM: In general, I like that it is a discipline that helps you focus on your body in a very deep way. It’s mentally and physically demanding, but this also means that it can help us get rid of the stress of our jobs, for example. A ballet class after a hard day at work is the best medicine I’ve found! Also, it is very healthy. Sometimes it doesn’t show, because everything looks so “easy” on stage, but ballet is really hard exercise! It keeps you fit while you have fun. What’s not to love?
ABP: What is your least favorite part?
NFM: I think it was Herman Cornejo who once said “you love ballet, but it just doesn’t love you back”. Ballet is so demanding. You never have enough. You always want to keep working in order to reach a higher level. It’s hard to say if this is a good or a bad thing, isn’t it? We love ballet because of that, but we also feel sad sometimes for the very same reason!
ABP: Who/What is your ballet inspiration?
NFM: I probably wouldn’t have had the courage to go to a ballet studio again if I hadn’t seen Tamara Rojo performing Carmen at the ROH. She is my favourite ballerina and my inspiration. I think she’s very clever and I find it amazing how deeply she studies her roles. But I love many other dancers and I always try to learn something from all of them.
I also get a fair amount of inspiration from my classmates. From the adults I take their courage to keep going and their passion for the art. From the intermediary girls with whom I took class in Salamanca, who had been dancing during their whole lives, I take their joy, their energy and that je-ne-sais-quoi that they have acquired over the years!
And of course, my teachers! They are the bond between me and ballet. I couldn’t be dancing at all without them!
ABP: What motivates you to keep dancing?
NFM: I motivate myself. I think of how much I’ve improved since I restarted two years ago and this makes me realize that I can get further if I keep working. More hours at the barre mean higher extensions, better balance, proper technique. I just keep dancing because I want to be the best dancer I can be!
ABP: Do you take any other dance classes?
NFM: Not at the moment. I took about eight years of flamenco classes (seven years when I was a child and one more when I was 20), but then I gave them up in order to be able to attend pointe class. I liked dancing flamenco, but ballet is my first love and when I had to choose, I just couldn’t hesitate. I hope I’ll be able to take it up again at some point!
ABP: What are your hobbies outside of ballet?
NFM: I like reading and writing, learning languages, translating and watching films or tv series. I also like travelling a lot, even though I can’t do it as much as I’d like.
And I am a big geek. I love videogames, video editing and anything related to computers!
ABP: What advice would you like to give to those who want to start ballet or have just started?
NFM: If you want to do it, just go for it. It is never too late. You will find a new world in ballet class and you will probably fall in love with it, just like most of us have. It will also allow you to examine real performances in a deeper way. You’ll enjoy them even more, maybe. Also, it is fun. You will have lots and lots of fun in class, I promise!
ABP: Anything else you’d like to add?
NFM: I think I’ve already said too many things, so I will just finish with a quote from my previous teacher. She told me this on the day I went to my old studio to say goodbye before moving to Paris. I think is a good piece of advice, so I thought you would like it as well:
“Wherever you go, never stop dancing.”__________________________________________________