Angels in Houston

Ángel and Carmen Corella in Manual de los Galanes’ “Soleá.”

Corella Ballet on the Threshold of Change

The celebrated American Ballet Theatre principal Angel Corella is one of the world’s greatest ballet dancers. His passion is now evident in his com­pany, viagra Corella Ballet, store making its Houston debut, unhealthy presented by Society for Perform­ing Arts on May 5 at Jones Hall. Corella visited with A+C editor Nancy Wozny while the company stands on the thresh­old of becoming the Barcelona Ballet.

A+C: What made you want to bite the company bullet? Can you talk about your desire to have a company of your own?

ÁNGEL CORELLA: Ever since I was a young dancer in the ballet school in Madrid, I didn’t understand why Spain did not have a classical ballet company like every other country, especially con­sidering the number of talented danc­ers that come out of Spain every year. When I was in Victor Ullate’s company, I dreamed of dancing the big story bal­lets, like “Don Quixote,” “Swan Lake,” “La Bayadere” and “Le Corsaire,” but there were simply no opportunities to do so in my home country. This was something that really bothered me, and at one point I even considered giving it up out of frustration of not being able to dance the ballets that I had seen only on videos.

A+C: How did you end up at American Bal­let Theatre?

ÁNGEL CORELLA: My friends and family encouraged me to participate in the Paris International Ballet Competition, so I signed up and in the end I won the Grand Prix. Natalia Makarova was head of the jury and she set me up with an audition at ABT, so I went to NY and was hired as a soloist, and after a few months they promoted me to principal dancer. I have been very fortunate in my career and, having had the opportunity to experience all of that made me realize even more the need of a classical ballet company in Spain.

A+C: Give us a flash history of Corella Bal­let.

ÁNGEL CORELLA: After several years of work, the Corella Ballet was born and began its first re­hearsals in Segovia, Spain in 2008. Since then, the company has acquired a large repertoire, and has toured all over the world with a great response from au­diences and critics. After four years in Segovia, the state (Catalonia) provincial and city governments of Barcelona have offered our company greater support, so in February, the company relocated to Barcelona and will soon be called Bar­celona Ballet. This is a huge step for the company, we are all excited, this really positions us well for the future.

A+C: You are also passionate about bringing ballet training to Spain as well.

ÁNGEL CORELLA: I started the Fundación Ángel Corella (Angel Corella Foundation) with two main missions, the creation of a classi­cal ballet company in Spain and the es­tablishment of a residence ballet school with both artistic and academic studies integrated, another thing that does not exist in Spain. The second mission of my foundation will be achieved with the opening of the ballet school with inte­grated studies and dormitory in Figuer­as in 2013–2014.

Corella Ballet in “Brunch Violin Concerto.”

A+C: Talk about working with your sister Carmen Corella.

ÁNGEL CORELLA: My family and I are extremely close. They have supported me throughout my entire career. So when I began to think about creating a foundation with a school and ballet company, it was only logical for me to want them to be a part of it from the beginning.

When I started considering options for an associate artistic director for the company, I had many names in mind, but Carmen seemed the perfect fit, not only because she is my sister and I com­pletely trust her, but also because we have almost always worked in the same companies and our artistic vision usual­ly coincides. The company would not be where it is today if it were not for her. I also have a very talented staff that is not family that make the project work. Our General Manager, Matthew Bledsoe, is actually from Houston.

A+C: That’s wonderful! But, there is another Houston connection in that we are all every excited to see Stanton Welch’s ballet minimalist and moving ballet “Clear” on your company.

ÁNGEL CORELLA: It’s rare to see a piece with almost all male dancers and only one female. I felt like it was the perfect piece for our company, considering the high techni­cal level of our male dancers. “Clear” formed part of the first performance that the company ever performed in 2008, and from day one proved to be a hit with the audiences. This piece is also particularly special to me because Stan-ton created the ballet on me for ABT. I wanted to pass all of the experiences that I had working with Stanton to my own company as well, as the emotional importance of what it meant to perform this amazing work after 9/11.

A+C: How did you choose the rep for this evening?

ÁNGEL CORELLA: I really wanted to choose a program with a lot of variety to showcase the company in many different styles. We open the evening with “Bruch Violin Concerto,” originally created for ABT with chore­ography by Clark Tippet. This is a very Balanchinesque, colorful and vibrant classical tutu ballet that really opens the performance on high note.

Then comes “Clear,” by Stanton Welch, who, in my opinion, is one of the greatest choreographers working today. The performance continues with a pas de deux called “Soleá” created by Maria Pa­gés for my sister Carmen and me. This is a ballet/flamenco fusion piece that por­trays the relationship that I have with Carmen. The evening ends with “DGV,” by Chris­topher Wheeldon, another one of the best choreographers working today. It was originally created for the Royal Bal­let with music by Michael Nyman. The ballet is packed full of energy and some really beautiful pas de deux, and ends the performance on a very high point.

A+C: You have been admired all over the world for your virtuosity. How do you define virtuosity?

ÁNGEL CORELLA: For me, virtuosity is not only the way that you are able to turn and jump on stage, rather the way you are able to con­trol your body and use it to express what you want to express at every moment while you are dancing. It’s the harmony of controlling your body to the point that you do not have to think about the difficulty of a turn or a jump, while never losing the connection with the audience.