Set to Frédéric Chopin’s romantic score, Alexandre Dumas’ love story makes its triumphant Kansas City premiere. The story inspired popular adaptations including Baz Luhrman’s movie Moulin Rouge! and Verdi’s opera La Traviata.
Kansas City Ballet Dancer, Lamin Pereira dos Santos, joined the company in 2014. Since then, he’s performed a number of principal roles in ballets from Albrecht in Giselle to Prince Desire in The Sleeping Beauty. This will be his second time performing in a ballet by choreographer Val Caniparoli. In 2017, he performed in Caniparoli’s The Lottery, based Shirley Jackson’s short story by the same name. He is thrilled to debut as Armand in this production of Lady of the Camellias Feb. 15-24, 2019 at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.
Q: WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO WITH REGARDS TO LADY OF THE CAMELLIAS?
A: I am definitely looking forward to performing this beautiful ballet with the most amazing piece of music composed by Chopin. Really, it’s a dream come true and I could not ask for better.
After being a super in ABT’s Lady of The Camellias back in 2010 and being fortunate enough to watch the company rehearsals performed by super stars Julie Kent, Marcelo Gomes, Roberto Bolle and Diana Vishneva in the principal roles of Marguerite and Armand I completely fell in love with the ballet and its story. But overall the acting and drama play a big part in it. And that’s why I love it so much.
During those rehearsals I witnessed so much emotion, love, drama and sadness. It helped me see ballet in a different way. At the end of rehearsals fellow dancers were in tears because the were touched by what they saw and felt. Right away I wanted to do the same and touch people’s heart and inspire them.
Q: HOW WILL THIS ROLE STRETCH YOU AND HELP YOU GROW AS A DANCER?
A: This role will help me grow in many different ways. This time the challenge is a bit different and it goes beyond pirouettes and double tours. We all have technique, we all can do those things. But can you do that and act at the same time? I am so looking forward to performing a role different from the ones in classical ballet.
Q: HOW DO YOU GET INTO CHARACTER FOR THESE PRINCIPAL ROLES?
A: I get into character for these principals roles by listening to what the stager is passing on to me throughout the rehearsal process. I also do my own research by watching videos of dancers that I look up to and by recording my rehearsals whenever is possible so I can look for mistakes and for details that can add to telling the story perfectly. Finding the right resource is crucial to expending my knowledge.
Q: WHAT GOES THROUGH YOUR HEAD WHEN YOU ARE PARTNERING?
A: To be honest, I think about what is happening exactly at that moment in the drama. It helps to not think about what’s going to come up next in the ballet such as the next scene or next act. It will all happen naturally.
Q: WHAT HAVE YOU DONE OUTSIDE OF THE STUDIO TO PREPARE FOR THIS ROLE?
A: As part of my physical training for this role, I am at the gym at 6:00 a.m. for a workout designed to improve my strength and stamina. When the show opens, I’ll perform a ten-minute pas de deux with lots of lifts, so I have added more to my routine in the gym to prepare. A lot of times people don’t realize what it takes to be a male ballet dancer and make everything look graceful, effortless and lift ballerinas over our heads.
Q: WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN FOR YOU TO BE SATISFIED WITH YOUR PERFORMANCE?
A: It is hard to be completely satisfied because every performance will be different. It’s never going to be perfect every time! But going on stage with confidence, commitment and passion will make me satisfied. You just have to embrace the role 100% for sure and let your experience and artistry take over the stage and the moment. Everything will fall into the right place.