After a couple of weeks in Japan, where he says dozens of fans usually wait for dancers outside of their dressing rooms to get an autograph, Isaac Hernández claims, without hesitation, that ballet is currently at its highest point.
“It's currently living one of its best eras right now,” says Hernández, who will present his second international gala Despertares this Saturday at the National Auditorium in Mexico City.
The show is sort of a ballet “dream team”, with pieces from the best ballet companies in the world being performed by lead dancers such as Misa Kuranaga from the Boston Ballet; Lauren Lovette from the NewYork City Ballet; Jeffrey Cirio, from the American Ballet Teather; and Maria Kochetkova from the San Francisco Ballet.
The first time he presented the mise-en-scène was in 2014. Now, he says, “everything has changed.”
“It's a good pause, time enough for me to have changed as a dancer, as an artist, to evolve and for the companies to evolve as well,” said Hernández during his latest interview with The Associated Press in Mexico City. “It's been some very creative years.”
The program of this new Despertares (Awakenings) includes a fragment of The Nutcracker version created for the Paris Opera by the choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, who has worked with the Royal Ballet Flanders and with stars like Beyonce.
“The Paris Opera has the exclusivity, and no one else but them can dance it,” said Hernández, who managed to obtain their permission to bring it to Mexico.
The performance will also include a fragment of the Dust choreography of Akram Khan, who participated in the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London with a piece showcasing the role of women during the First World War.
“When I saw that Ballet I couldn't fall asleep at night. It was amazing, especially because they had created a new language, and that hadn't happened in the world of ballet in quite some time,” said Hernández, who will bring the last 10 minutes of the piece, which he considers the “main part“ of the ballet.
The repertoire also includes classics such as Don Quixote, Carmen, and Talisman, as well as the participation of tap dancer Savion Glover, Spaniard dancer Tamara Rojo, and Hernandez's brother, Esteban, who dances for the San Francisco Ballet.
“I think it's essential to keep consuming this type of entertainment, which not only feeds your senses but nurtures your imagination. It's not the type of entertainment that is simply displayed before you, it's the sort that makes you question and wonder, that demands you to find a meaning to what you're seeing, or to allow yourself to be transported to all these very different emotional places,” he said.
Hernández, who is 27 years old, is currently the lead dancer of the English National Ballet, a position he also held at the Mariinsky Teather of Saint Petersburg, the Paris Opera and the Dutch National Ballet. He has danced at the Bolshoi, the American Ballet Theater of New York and the San Francisco Ballet. The only dance floor he hasn't stepped on yet is the Metropolitan in New York.
“Unconsciously I think I'm putting it aside because I don't want to meet all my professional goals at 27,” he explains. “I want to reach that stage at my best moment, which I hope to achieve in the next eight years.”
It's been a long journey for a boy who grew middle-class borough in Guadalajara, Mexico, within a very peculiar family. He has 10 siblings, his father taught all of them to dance while their mother home-schooled them. They also had a Volkswagen Type 2 ("hippie van") where they all got into to go and do their social work, similarly to the film ”Captain Fantastic” with Viggo Mortensen, of which Hernández said to be a fan.
Currently, the family of Hernández has two non-profit schools in Tlajomulco, in his native State of Jalisco, where 200 children study dance.
“My father wanted to prove the impact on a community when you have a cultural education. It has been an extraordinary project,” he said. “I've personally seen a more radical change in the parents than in the kids themselves.”