Spotlight on the Dancer: Brazilian Ballerina, Ana da Costa

Da Costa



Meet Ana da Costa, our newest Principal dancer!  Ana joined us for our 47th season and we are very pleased to welcome her back for our 48th.  Most recently, you may recognize her as Myrtle from our production of The Great Gatsby.  Soloist Tess Lane sat down with Ana to learn a little more about Ana’s the international ballet world and Ana’s favorite things.






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Tess Lane: Let’s start at the beginning.  How did you start dancing?


Ana da Costa:  I started when I was 5 or 6 at a studio in Rio de Janeiro, my hometown.  Somehow I still have two very vivid memories of watching ballet at home on TV when I was around that age:  one of a woman in a white tutu becoming a swan, and a man dancing and then becoming a skull.  My mother didn’t want to put me in lessons, but I pestered her so much that she eventually gave in.  Much later, after I was already serious about ballet, I discovered that I’d seen Natalia Makarova in The Royal Ballet’s Swan Lake and Mikhail Baryshnikov in the opening of White Nights.  By the time I discovered this, Makarova and Baryshnikov were already two of my favorite dancers!

 

TL:  Somehow I’m not surprised you still remember those scenes.  I think many of us have vague, but treasured, memories of our first ballet too.  What was your first professional experience?

 

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ADC: When I was 16 or so I entered an International Ballet Competition.  I was awarded a scholarship to train in Vienna but the scholarship only paid the tuition, so we couldn’t afford to send me.  My parents helped me make videos of myself to send to companies and we sent them to many companies in the US but only one in France.  All of the US companies wanted me to fly to them for an in-person audition, but we still couldn’t afford the airfare there, back, and there again.  The French company, Jeune Ballet de France, offered me a contract just after seeing my video, so off I went to Paris!

 

TL: How exciting!  Did you speak any French?

 

ADC: None!  It was a bit of a culture shock for me, and I was younger than most of the others in the company so I felt very naive.  I love French culture though, in some ways I feel more French than Brazilian.  I was lucky too, while I was with Jeune Ballet we went on a huge Latin American tour.

 

TL: That sounds wonderful!  It must have been nice to get to see more of Latin America.  Where did you go from there?

 

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ADC: I really didn’t have much guidance or experience with auditions, so once my contract was up with Jeune Ballet I wasn’tsure where to go.  I decided to go home to Rio and audition for our classical ballet company, Theatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro.  The company is huge; it’s modeled after the Paris Opera Ballet, and it’s really the only classical ballet company in Brazil so it’s very difficult to get a spot.  I was hired for the first year or so with short contracts, and then in I think 2001 they had an open audition.  The last open audition had been in the 1980s, so I was very fortunate to be in Rio and have a relationship with the company at this point.  Dancers from all over the country came to audition, and, thankfully, I was offered a spot in their Corps de Ballet.  There, once you are hired into the company, you’re a full-time employee until you retire, unlike here where we have to sign new contracts every season.  I was very relieved when I joined the Corps.

 

TL:  It sounds very nice to have that kind of job security.  What were some of your favorite moments with Theatro Municipal de Rio de Janeiro?

 

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ADC: I danced the Shades solo in Natalia Makarova’s La Bayadere, and I even had a few rehearsals with Makarova herself!  That was a big deal for me because I was chosen even though I was in the Corps and I looked up to Makarova so much.  Then Richard Cragun cast me as Myrtha in Giselle, and that’s when I became a First Soloist with the company.

 

TL: What wonderful opportunities.  It must have been amazing to work with Makarova, especially since you remember seeing her when you were little. Alright, so what brought you to California?

 

ADC:  My husband had been offered opportunities to transfer to many different cities for his work, but I was never ready.  However, the work his company does here in San Diego is his favorite, and when he was offered the transfer I finally felt ready for a change, so we decided to take it!  I sent my video to a couple companies here, and I have to say we’re very happy here!  My favorite part of any role is getting into the character, not really the technique, and all the roles I’ve done with California Ballet are very theatrical; Giselle, Myrtle, and, later this season, Juliet.  I’m very happy with the opportunities I’ve been given here, and we love San Diego!

 

TL: Well we love having you!  Last question, who’s your favorite dancer?

 

ADC: I love Alessandra Ferri!  She has beautiful feet and legs, but she’s so much more than that; she’s a true artist!  I’m grateful for my feet, but they’re just genetic.  I’d rather be appreciated for how much work I put into being an artist, so I admire her for that.

 


See Ana dance the roles of the Snow Queen and the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker at the San Diego Civic Theatre December 12-20, 2015. For tickets or more information go to www.NutcrackerSanDiego.com.

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