“The Opera House overflowing with strong, positive energy that recharges the batteries of the body and mind throughout the day”, Javier Torres says. Sometimes meetings require a lot of energy, but then the next meeting, intelligent discussion or teaching situation recharges the batteries. Here’s the secret to why he’s able to work such long hours.
The Mexican-Finnish Torres has completed his first year as the artistic director of the National Ballet. Often the whole day will be spent at the opera house.
After seven in the morning, he does a half-hour workout, after which he starts going through emails, meetings, teaching and brainstorming. At three in the afternoon, the program includes a half-hour nap.
“That’s right, I chose the sofa in my study on the basis that it is good for taking power naps on it. I recommend this great way to everyone.”
On top of the work day, Torres often follows a show that ends after ten in the evening.
Javier Torres grew up in Mexico City surrounded by art. Mother was a teacher and puppeteer, father a carpenter and grandfather a pianist.
Torres originally had her sights set on acting. He only applied to ballet school when he was 15, because he thought that ballet could be useful for an acting career. Little by little, dancing became a passion.
In the 1980s, Torres received a grant and came to Europe. The decisive meeting took place in Cologne.
He participated in a dance workshop, which was attended by the director of the Helsinki City Theater’s dance group at the time Jorma Uotinen.
“I asked Jorma for a job, and he invited me to Finland. I later found out that he never imagined me coming. I started on the fly as a dancer at the City Theatre, I didn’t even have a residence permit at first.”
In the end, Torres spent his entire career as a dancer in Finland – he danced in the National Ballet for 17 years.
Before Returning to Helsinki, Torres lived for years in Paris and worked as a freelance choreographer and trainer, traveling around the world. What did you take with you from those years?
“Life,” he says and laughs out loud.
Traveling around the world, you learn to see how many different ways you can do things and solve problems. The perspective widens. Every encounter with different cultures, groups, directors and choreographers has given a new grain, the creative combination of which helps to make bold solutions.
“I want to strengthen the encouraging atmosphere in the whole house.”
Torres has also lectured at many international dance medicine events and led international seminars dealing with the psychological and physical aspects of dance teaching.
Now the idea is to encourage ballet school students and dancers to speak openly, ask questions, share their opinions and question.
Since childhood, ballet dancers are used to mirroring everything they do to the demands of teachers and practitioners.
“A dancer may get stuck in a childlike position, which makes it difficult to take responsibility for one’s own work,” Torres opens.
“The arrangement is not healthy for anyone, and I want to strengthen the encouraging atmosphere in the whole house. Of course, it is a tradition of hundreds of years of ballet that will not change in an instant. But I can see that over the past year, trust has already started to build.”
“Thank God the dance didn’t let go of its grip on me.”
Some years ago, Javier Torres tried his hand as a ceramic artist. While living in Paris, he bought a gallery and organized three of his own ceramic sculpture exhibitions there. I was especially interested in studying human figures.
But every time Torres has tried to turn his back on the dance, it has drawn him back like a magnet.
“When I noticed that the National Ballet was looking for a new director, I immediately knew that I could give a lot in this position. I still make pottery and love shaping clay – it helps ground me. But thank God dance didn’t let go of me,” she says now, an intense glow in her eyes.
Age is brought Torres the ability to listen and treat his own body more gently.
“I am turning 60 in a time where equality, equality and diversity have become central values. This has made me more flexible and open than ever. It has been necessary to examine what long-held beliefs mean and sometimes also to challenge them.”
What if a line of classical dancers got its strength from unevenness? what if Swan pond Did a man play the role of Odette-Odile? Who decides what is classic?
Torres thought about it for a long time, but finally decided to get a skirt when she turns 60. Wearing a skirt is more than a style experiment: it’s a statement of freedom and acceptance.
Beliefs can change – but only if we are willing to change them, he says.
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