Q&A: Claudia Monja

13 April 2012 - 02:05 By Andrea Nagel

Cuban ballerina Claudia Monja is in South Africa to dance the title role and Myrtha in 'Giselle'

Is there a history of ballet in your family?

I am the only dancer in my family.

What is your earliest memory relating to dance?

I vividly recall watching the great Cuban ballerina Alicia Alonso performing Odette/ Odile in Swan Lake onTV in Havana when I was seven . She was my inspiration.

How did you develop a passion for dance?

Although no one in my family dances, culture is very important to us and we embrace the Cuban arts. I am passionate about all the arts.

What have you had to sacrifice in order to become a dancer?

Unfortunately, my free time is very limited. Even when I do have time off, I am thinking about the next role, the corrections from my coach, trying to remember the choreography and my notes. Being a professional ballet dancer is a lifestyle, not just a career.

To be a ballerina you have to start young. At what age did you start?

I started at age nine. This is a good age to start as the muscles are starting to develop and the bones are strong enough for the pointe work training from around age 12.

Tell us about your first big day or night on stage?

My first major role was as one of the two big swans in Swan Lake with Ballet de Camagüey. I was very nervous but felt prepared and ready for the role after months of rehearsals. This was the start of my professional career and it was an unforgettable experience.

Which is your favourite ballet role? Why?

The dual role of Odette/Odile in Swan Lake is my favourite, mostly because of the music by Tchaikovsky, but also because, technically, it is a very challenging role.

  • 'Giselle' opens at the Joburg Theatre tonight and runs until April 29