Reverence: A Perfect Prima

ABT principal Paloma Herrera is old-fashioned about Facebook and surprised people obsess over her feet.
Published in the June/July 2012 issue.

As Nikiya in "La Bayadère." Photo by Gene Schiavone.

What’s your latest discovery?
I love yoga! If I could, I would take yoga classes all the time. I do Bikram. The great thing is you can go all over the world and it’s the exact same sequence, every single class.

What currently inspires you?

Working with Alexei Ratmansky. From the time I was in school, people thought of me in crown-and-tutu roles because I was very classical. It was hard to make them believe me in anything else. Then Twyla Tharp created a lot of things on me: How Near Heaven, Americans We. I think it opened up people’s eyes: “She can do something else!”

How do you prep your pointe shoes?
I crunch them in the door. I used to do that at home and my mom hated it because it would unhinge the door. Now in the theater, the big doors are very heavy, so it’s no problem. Prepping depends on the ballet. When I put my shoes away, I have ballets written on them—“Romeo and Juliet, Act I,” because I need them softer or “Swan Lake, Act II,” because I need them not to make too much noise.

How do you relax in your off time?
I usually go home to Buenos Aires. I’m very attached to my family, and to my country. Also the audience there is wonderful. I do the best I can to wear my country’s flag in the best possible way.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I am not technological—at all.  I don’t own an iPhone or iPad. In my computer, I just email. I would much rather write cards and letters with stamps. I’m very old-fashioned. People make fun of me, but I don’t know how Facebook works.

Which role do you most identify with?
People always identify me with Don Q. It was the first ballet I danced professionally. My first rehearsal at ABT was for the seguidilla in Act I. My first soloist role was Amor. And there’s a video of me dancing Kitri. It’s a ballet that’s been with me my whole career.

How do you feel about everyone being obsessed with your feet?

That’s funny. I never thought about that. A lot of people have beautiful feet, but they don’t use them. I always felt lucky to have nice feet, so I had this double responsibility to work on them and use them. I didn’t know people paid so much attention to my feet! It’s nice to hear.