Cupcakes & Conversation with Nathalie Fernandez, Soloist, Polish National Ballet
What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning ?
I wake up every day of the week at 7 am. My biggest motivation is all the things I have planned to do the night before falling asleep.
Why ballet ?
Ballet is a great combination of emotional and physical activity. I like being on stage where you can share and find trueness and purity of your feelings. And on the physical side: feeling, being aware and learning to control “every part” of your body isn’t comparable to anything else.
What are you looking forward to dancing this year ?
It is hard to choose one. This season it could be the first solo shades of La Bayadere, the seasons in Cinderella, or maybe the first duet of And the rain will pass from Krzysztof Pastor…and who knows what comes up… As long as I am busy, it makes me look forward to it.
Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance ?
Anyone who is wanting to work and improve. And what, depends on whom I’ll dance with.
If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance ?
In the Teatro Nacional of the Dominican Republic where I danced my first performance when I was a little girl and since I left the country I haven’t danced there anymore.
How do you prepare your pointe shoes ?
A lot of work! I use Freeds. I like to sew 2 elastics crossing each other, to be sure not to lose them, plus the ribbons when they are obligatory. I sew them as well around the top to avoid slipping and I cut a little of the wood in the place where the heel is. Ah! And I scrape them at the metatarsal part to make them flat and be more stable during centre adagios. And finally, I put some shellac in each of them to make them last a little bit longer!
What is your daily routine at the moment ?
I wake up at 7 am, turn on the TV and listen to the news while walking around and fixing everything for the day. I go to work, warm up, do class and rehearsals, some days if I have time in between my rehearsals, I run to the University to take a class and afterwards I run back to work to continue rehearsals. When my working day is over, I try to study, depending on the time I finish rehearsals or performances and go to bed. Once a week, I try to go out or do something different to break my weekly routine.
What do you eat during the course of a typical working day ?
I like to eat small quantities many times a day when I am physically active. When I don’t have to dance I have a big meal.
You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite ?
The best cook in the world, Bob Marley, Juan Luis Guerra or Cat Stevens, now Yusuf Islam (for a good background music), Romain Gary alias Emil Ajar and Albert Camus, Mahatma Gandhi and Hitler (to find out how he could have been so totally deranged) and finally God and E.T. (if they exist). It could bring on some interesting conversations…Sorry, I mentioned more than six…
What would surprise people about you ?
I am maybe not that crazy as I seem to be.
Who inspired you to dance ?
No one specially, but many people inspire me every day!
What is your best piece of advice ?
Be aware that death is as close as life. It will change your life. So make sure, that at the end of your day, you are satisfied with what you did.
How do you prepare in the hours before a show ?
I like to take my time doing my hair and make-up by myself if it is possible. Then I stretch, I do my barre and do the steps I need to do depending on what I am dancing.
How do you deal with the stress of performing ?
I try to prepare myself well during rehearsals so that when the time comes, everything is there and what is left is just to enjoy.
Which role has tested you the most & how ?
Every role is challenging even when repeating it many times because it always feels different. But, one that I remember particularly is my premiere of Moving Glass from Nils Christie. It was right after the summer holidays where I injured my ankle walking down a hill. When the season started, my foot was still very swollen and the first time I wore my pointe shoes after the holidays was on the stage rehearsal. I danced all the performances with my wrapped ankle but enjoyed it very much.
If you were asked to design your own ballet costume, what would you create?
I would prefer to leave this to people who know about it. I can wear anything or better to say, everything.
What do you look for in a dance partner ?
Somebody wanting to work and improve.
What is your favourite quote ?
Hard to choose! I have so many. Something simple because the song just popped up into my head: “Always look at the bright side of life!”
Do you have a ‘signature step’ – one that comes naturally to you ?
In my previous company, people used to make fun of me because I was always on the top of my pointe shoes even between exercises. I like the feeling of good turnings as well…
A phrase I use far too often is … ?
In Spanish: Sabe no? (“You know no?”)
What’s been your best on-stage moment so far ?
My very best moments are not one dance or one role as a whole. Of course, I remember some very nice experiences that I enjoyed very much, but what strikes me most is often a very small, detailed short moment or movement that happens, which makes the whole difference, without mattering what I am dancing.
Do you have a secret skill which no-one knows about ?
It is a top secret!
In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be in a year from now ?
I try to live my life day by day, otherwise it suffocates me and this way, I enjoy the present more.
If you could dance in front of anyone, who would it be and what makes them special to you?
My family and friends in the Dominican Republic because they have never seen me dancing since I started to dance professionally.
What is your exit strategy, for the time when you stop dancing, and how did you plan it ?
I try not to think about the future. I started to study philosophy at the University of Warsaw but this is more for my own present well-being and pleasure than for the future. It is a very difficult challenge specially while dancing at the same time because I miss a lot of classes, but I will see how everything develops…
Watch Nathalie dance Broken Glass