Ariel, The First Mexican Dancer Who Competed at The Bolshoi Talks About Pursuing a Dream

A Classic Ballet Dancer in Mexico

by Ariel Lopez Padilla

In 1989, I had the opportunity to compete in the 6th international contest to become a ballet dancer at the Bolshoi Theater in the UUSS. 31 Years have passed since I took that audition, and I can assure you that facing  my fears and conquering them helped  pave the road for  future generations to pursue their dreams to become international dancers.

The culture of classic ballet is a privilege that very few countries have cultivated, preserved, and promoted. Europe is an example of an entire continent where this discipline has been preserved and evolved for hundreds of years. But it is in the United States where a new exceptional choreographic proposal was born. Nevertheless, Russia is still recognized as the greatest school of ballet while conserving the largest universal repertoire.

The Swan Lake 1987 at the Chapultepec Castle with the National Dance Company of the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes

In Mexico, ballet is still a discipline that is in the process of evolution but still has given us talented and exceptional dancers. Becoming a dancer or choosing this career can still be taboo followed by a good amount of prejudice; it was something I have personally experienced firsthand - even from my own family.

Today, dancers like Elisa Carrillo, prima ballerina in Germany, or Isaac Hernandez in England, are examples of talented dancers who paved the road for the next Mexican generation of dancers in the world. Many other famous dancers who keep inspiring us - Edwin Mota and Fernando Mora - built their careers all over the world but never came back to Mexico.

In 1980, I was admitted, with a scholarship, to the Joffrey Ballet Company in New York.  This opportunity allowed me to discover my capabilities as a dancer. I moved back to Mexico, where my teachers were from Russia, to follow an internship with the National Ballet of Cuba.

The Bolshoi Theater 1987

I have enormous gratitude to art; I believe with certainty it is a universal language that is capable of bring peace among humans. Thanks to ballet, I had the opportunity to travel the world - to be free on every stage where I was able to express the talent I acquired throughout the years and the sacrifice of the discipline.

Living your dreams, being brave and never giving up is perhaps the most valuable advice I can give to someone who would like to become a dancer.


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