Reverence: A Prince of Artistry: Herman Cornejo

Bewitched and dazzled by ABT's Herman Cornejo
Published in the October/November 2010 issue.

As Siegfried in Corella Ballet's production of "Swan Lake"

Photo by Rosalie O'Connor

What’s it like to dance in a company like American Ballet Theatre that has so many excellent men?
Having stars around you is a good thing. It creates an energy that drives you to improve.

What’s different for you when you dance a ballet without a plot?
It’s a more physical experience. In a certain way it is more difficult because it requires complete physical control. With story ballets, there is a lot of interpretation—which is what I like most.

What was it like to work with Alexei Ratmansky on Seven Sonatas for ABT?
He is a gem—extremely nice, but he needs to see the movement exactly the way it is in his mind. It was hard, but the result was really good.

You made your debut as Siegfried in Swan Lake with the Corella Ballet in February. What was that like?
Dancing the classical roles is my dream. Since the creation of Corella Ballet, I’ve been able to dance two ballets I haven’t yet performed with ABT, La Bayadère and Swan Lake.

How was partnering Natalia Osipova in ABT’s La Sylphide last year?
Incredible. She’s amazing, and her jump was unbelievable. I was saying to myself, “Oh my God, what do I do now?”

Have you ever seen a ballerina with a jump like that?
Only my sister Erica Cornejo and Osipova.

Have you ever danced with your wife, Carmen Corella?
Yes. We decided we just had to dance something together! An Argentine choreographer, Margarita Fernández, made a piece for us set to Mozart, Amadúo.

Do you have any rituals before a performance?

I try to do everything just as if it were a regular day. Class, rehearsal, and if I need to walk 10 blocks to go somewhere, that’s fine. I like to stay pretty calm.

 

What music do you like to listen to when you’re not working?
I love Philip Glass. I listen to his music a lot, when I’m trying to fall asleep or in the dressing room. But sometimes some Michael Jackson slips in there too!

What is your hidden talent?

I draw—I love architecture and design. I’ve always designed the places where I live, and my wife does the interior decoration.

Has your height affected your career?
It’s always been on the table. Argen­tine dancers, and Latin American dancers in general, are on the small side. I think what matters are proportions. It’s been hard sometimes to change the way of thinking of com­pany directors or coaches. Despite the fact that I’m small, my movements can be big, slow. That’s why I think La Bayadère is one of my favorite ballets—because the movement is adagio. People always see me as a fast mover, and I enjoy it, but I feel much bigger than that.