Interview: Cuban ballet dancer Lisandra Gomez

In college Lisandra Gómez studied the technique and style of ballet, but life took her in another direction: she has for some years been the first dancer of a company where there is no need to dance on points: the Contemporary Ballet of Camagüey.

Do you miss not having danced a classic? Would you have liked, for example, to dance Giselle?I would have liked to dance Swan Lake, which was always my favurite classic. Although I had the opportunity to do it in Peru, after having been dancing contemporary ballet for 8 years.

Why the contemporary ballet?That was not an option, it was a necessity. And it was the chance to carry on dancing. Due to health problems I could not continue doing classical ballet. I had problems with the absorption of iron and rigorous diets did not allow me to continue dancing like that.

It sounds like you changed to contemporary without much desire …Of course I wanted to do it! What I liked the most was the possibility of learning very different languages. I was seduced by the freedom I felt, not only when dancing, but also when choreographing myself. I was able to break the barriers I had from school – sometimes the teaching of ballet is very closed. An arabesque is an arabesque, but in contemporary ballet you can “break” that same step and make two or three new steps with the same base.

They say dancers are too wrapped up in their world. What is your life like beyond dance? What interests you?Of course. I am very passionate about photography. I would like to dedicate myself to that at some point in my life. My family is a vital for me. I like to dedicate time to my son. To get home and forget about the problems of work, to be simply that worried mother, to sit down with him to help him with homework.

But at home you live with another dancer. What is good and what is bad about being married to someone who is dedicated to the same thing as you?

I have not found anything bad. And it’s been five years. At first people told me to be careful, that a relationship like this could not be healthy, because we spent too much time together, at work and at home, that we would mix things up … Certainly, we bring work problems home, but I do not think it damages our relationship. Jesus (Arias) nourishes me. He is a person who knows me, with whom I do not have to assume poses. He is the man who understands me when I get very tired at home, because he knows from his own experience how difficult it is to lead a career like ours.

What do you feel seconds before a show starts?I get very nervous…

And how do you deal with that nervousness?That only lasts a few seconds, just the moment before going on stage. After I’m out there, it’s magic. I stop being myself, I start to feel differently. I cannot explain it to you with words.

Is there any ballet, some character that you have felt particularly comfortable with?Yes, in Pedro Ruiz’s piece. I love the characters that demand from me not only a technique, but a feeling, a commitment, a psychology … That ballet demands it. And if you add to that the character is Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, because for me she’s the best. I always identified with that woman. It was absolutely revolutionary, it was always beyond its time.

The career of a dancer is usually short …I have never thought about the sadness of ending. When you love art, dance, your career is for life, because there are many ways to continue contributing. The day I cannot dance anymore I will not feel sad, because I will still have the desire to create. I feel a strong need to teach. Right now I do not have time to research, when I do not dance I may have it. I would like to venture more regularly into choreography.

When did you know you were going to be a dancer?In the last years of elementary school. Before, I just wanted to dance. As a child my mom took me to see a ballet performance and I fell in love with the tutu and the shoes. I wanted to dance but I did not have much awareness of what a profession meant. In the fourth year of school I understood that besides pleasure, dancing involved great responsibilities. It was like a revelation. And then I knew I wanted to be a dancer.

I know what you’re going to answer, but anyway I ask you: what do you like most: the stage or the rehearsal room?Obviously: the stage! I would like to dance every day of my life without having to go through rehearsals. But hey, that’s impossible. Assembly and testing processes are unavoidable. You have to have opportunities to make mistakes without big consequences, you have to know your character, you have to work on perfecting your execution …

Do you dream that you dance? Are you better or worse a dancer in your dreams?

I see myself doing turns that in normal life I cannot do.

You are a delegate representing Cuba at the World Festival of Youth and Students. What is your aim?

The chance of exchange with young people from all over the world. I could answer questions about the life of a young person in Cuba and I would like to know about the reality of other places. The most important thing will always be dialogue.

Link to original interview published

Translated to english by Google Translate and Cuba50