Wed 10.05.2023 Elisa Carrillo Cabrera

Notes on Onegin by Elisa Carrillo Cabrera

Elisa Carrillo Cabrera with Alexei Orlenco, Photo: Carlos Quezada Elisa Carrillo Cabrera with Alexei Orlenco, Photo: Carlos Quezada

On May 13 and 16, Principal Dancer Elisa Carrillo Cabrera will, once again, portray Tatjana in John Cranko's ONEGIN. Find out why this ballet is so special to her.

When I saw a piece by John Cranko for the first time in Mexico at the age of about 14, it was a shock for me. Unlike in pure classical ballet, there were »normal« people on stage showing real emotions and all the dancers brought their own personality to it. Every expression and every movement matched the music. The stage design was also very simple, unlike classical ballet, so that all eyes were on the dancers' movements. It was like a moment in real life told through dance. It's not just steps, you can understand the story. Real feelings and a real story, that's different from ballets like SWAN LAKE and LE CORSAIRE, which I learned as a student at school. I find that incredibly beautiful, and it totally inspired me.

Onegin is one of the great dramatic ballets, a life story. You live your whole life on stage. This ballet is also very important to me because of my time in Stuttgart. I danced every single role, from group dancer to Olga. As an élève, the role of Tatjana was always a dream of mine, and dreams always motivate me to keep working.

I always try to learn from the many incredible ballerinas I have seen in this role and from all my colleagues, the many great women who inspire me. You take others as an example and think about how you would do it yourself. But my great role model has always been Marcia Haydée, Cranko's muse, with whom he developed everything. In Stuttgart she is the woman from whom you learn everything, because this ballet gives so many emotions and she is an artist with so much heart on stage. I was very lucky to learn every role - from group to Tatjana - directly with her as well as other people who still worked personally with Cranko. Cranko is now in my blood, in my head, in my soul. That's why ONEGIN has such great meaning for me. I grew up with it and it has been with me throughout my career.

From the beginning to the end of the piece, you feel the years go by. And everything always fits together and has meaning - the costumes, your movements and the effect with Tchaikovsky's music is just brilliant. In the first act, when you play a young woman who is in love, but also in the third act, when you are suddenly older and exhausted by so many emotions. That's why I find it so magical, because as a ballerina you can live a whole life in three hours. What happens in ONEGIN can also happen in real life. You love someone, you can hate someone, you can be happy. These great stories and dramas evoke real emotions that are not possible with the Lilac Fairy in SLEEPING BEAUTY. She's the fairy godmother, you can't necessarily bring your own emotions from your private life onto the stage. That's why ONEGIN, is one of my favourite ballets, because of course I play Tatiana, but at the same time I can show Elisa's life and Elisa's emotions on stage. At the end, you're tired not only because you're dancing, but from the excitement. You're running after Onegin. At my premiere, I almost fell off the stage because you're running, you're crying, you're angry and your body is no longer in control and that's what I find so beautiful about our profession.