Nayara Lopes, Dance Theatre of Harlem
Where did you grow up and how did you get interested in dance?
NL: I grew up in Brazil. Ballet was never my dream until my sister decided to take some classes. I went once just to copy what she was doing and then I decided to try. Little did I know how much I would love this art form.
How did your background and your family's background; affect your passion for dance?
NL: It affects everything in my dance! My background is not easy, I had to work hard for everything in life, like many of us. Because of my families background, I always had to have a mind set to work hard and not waste time.
What career would you have chosen if you could not have been a dancer?
NL: I liked to run when I was a kid and for a long time I wanted to be a runner. In school, I loved biology and thought of doing that as well. Now I would chose physiology if I could not be a dancer.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started dancing professionally?
NL: I wish I knew to always work hard, even when you think it is good, keep working. It sounds a bit crazy, but to be the dancer you want to be, requires patience, a lot of love and hard work! At a young age we don't understand that and these things get lost, until we find them again.
Of all the roles you have performed, which role helped you grow the most as an artist?
NL: Black Swan made me grow in so many ways. Before that every ballet is and was important for me, but going through the tough time of not knowing how far you can go or if you are going to make it, and still having to go out there and fight that feeling, taught me a lot about myself.
If a child told you they wanted to be a dancer, what advice would you give them?
NL: I would say go be something else! It's a hard life and it's so easy to get lost or lose yourself. Now I understand more and more about the beauty of this art form. So, I would say if you want to be a dancer... be the best you can. Work hard and don't make excuses.
How has social media changed a dancer’s status and what is required of them?
NL: It has changed everything in a big way, giving more opportunity, new faces and new talents more ways to show themselves. Social media give you the opportunity to be who you can be. With that begin said, that requires discipline and a good vision of what you can or can't achieve.
Do you have one moment in your career that you remember most fondly? Or one moment that you feel really defined your career or the trajectory of it?
NL: In my career I had moments of definition. But, something defined, I would say that is hard to say. Our career is short and it cannot begin completely if you have not found a place for yourself. Most of the time, it takes many tries to be defined and fully happy.
Who were some of the people who influenced you the most in your career?
NL: In my career the people who influenced me the most were the great people that had such huge hearts and just really helped me through tough times. I will also always be influenced by my colleagues and their love for dance. This inspires me and gives me and gives me strength watching how they change their lives.
What do you most value in your friends?
NL: What I value the most in a friend is their passion for what they do. I appreciate having friends by my side that understand the difficulty of many things, of loving their family, and for pursuing their dream in life.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
NL: My idea of happiness is simple. I believe that happiness is in the little moments, it is difficult to be happy all the time. But knowing to enjoy little moments every day - this would be the closest to happiness for me.
If you could be an animal, what would animal would you choose and why?
NL: I would choose a panther. They are so beautiful and mysterious, I like how settled and secure they are in their ways.
Which person (dead or alive) would you most want to dance with if you could?
NL: I think I would choose to dance with Sterling Baca from ABT. He is not only my friend but he is a true artist in my eyes, a great partner from what I know, and a great person.
What is your greatest indulgence?
NL: My great indulgence is coffee and chocolate
What are your worst fears (professionally or personally)?
NL: To not want to go back home, since life is a bit too hard back in Brazil. Professionally it would be giving up, to one day have no will to fight anymore.
What was your biggest mishap in a performance?
NL: The biggest mishap I've had was when I was dancing flower in The Nutcracker. Right at the beginning of the dance, I fell flat on my chest. I got up then fell on my chest again on the other side!
Is there a special meal you have before performances?
NL: I always try to eat carbs. I choose pasta most of the time.
What is the one thing you wished more people knew about dancing?
NL: That's it is a job and is not easy one. Everyone sees the beauty in dance, but a lot of the time they do not realize the hard work that goes on behind the scenes.