This is Lamin Pereira dos Santos’s first season with Kansas City Ballet. He is originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and began dancing at the age of 10. Lamin’s most recent role with Kansas City Ballet was Albrecht in our March production of Giselle. Read below to learn more about Lamin!
Q: What was it like getting to dance such a prominent lead role in Giselle such as Albrecht?
A: Performing the role of Albrecht gives me a huge feeling of accomplishment and it’s really a dream come true to be able to perform such a big role, especially after so many years of dedication, hard work and passion. The moment I had on stage was truly precious and an unforgettable experience!
Q: What is your favorite moment to perform in Giselle?
A: I love the Mad Scene in the 1st act and there are so many moments in the 2nd act that I really love too, especially when Albrecht first arrives to Giselle’s grave, and from the pas de deux until the end of the ballet when Albrecht is devastated.
Q: What were you feeling as you were getting ready to perform Giselle for the first time in front of an audience?
A: I was actually very nervous when I was getting ready in my dressing room because it was my first time performing this ballet, and there is a lot of responsibility on my shoulders. My biggest concern was if I was going to tell the story of Giselle clearly enough for the audience to understand. The technical part in the second act also had me a little worried, it’s very hard! But once I stepped on stage, all of my concerns and doubts were gone and I had a fantastic time. I was really relaxed during the performance.
Q: How did you first get involved in ballet?
A: In Brazil, for students of the public schools, the government had extra activities such as judô, painting, dance, gymnastics, and soccer.
I was the kid involved in soccer, basketball and judô, nothing related to dance. My little sister was the one taking dance classes. One day when I was about 10 years old, her dance teacher asked me to join the class to help my sister with rolling on the floor and doing cartwheels, so I said yes, why not?
After six months my teacher Denise Sá took us to a professional ballet school called Centro de Dança Rio to apply for a scholarship. I did the exam but the director could only offer me a full scholarship if I took ballet class. She took me to watch a professional class and introduced me to Thiago Soares (principal of Royal Ballet) and the ballet master Maria Angelica Fiorani, and that’s when I decided that I wanted to dance ballet.
Q: Was the professional ballet school you attended an after school activity growing up?
A: It was an after school activity but it was also a professional ballet school where I learned different styles of dance, and there were exams to move from one level to another. The main objective was to prepare dancers for corp de ballet. It was a private school. For me it didn’t feel like it was an extra activity growing up because at that point I wasn’t doing it just for fun or to pass the time. I knew that dancing was what I wanted to do and I wanted to become a professional.
Q: Were your parents easily convinced to let you enroll in all of these new dance classes?
A: My mom was the one taking me and my siblings to dance at first, then my dad joined her and they never said no or criticized our choices. Eventually my parents were always at ballet competitions watching me, or traveling to another place for competitions. They also came every time to my open classes for parents to watch. They always gave me support!
Q: What motivated you to decide to audition for companies in the US?
A: I was always very focused on my goals and never really cared about anything else but ballet, which was my dream. I competed throughout the years and in 2007 I was competing at Youth America Grand Prix Semi Finals in Brazil and received 2nd place and a spot to compete in the final round in NYC in April of 2008.
Once in NYC I knew there were going to be a lot of amazing dancers, so I tried to focus on myself and show the best of me. At that time my biggest wish was that a director from a big school or company would see me and offer me something; either a contract or a scholarship.
I made it to the final round in NYC and was awarded a full scholarship to the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre! I was extremely happy and I could not wait for that opportunity. I moved to NYC in August of 2008.