“Whether in the role of Puck, Albrecht or Spartacus: The new member with the Bayerisches Staatsballett has captured whole Munich in only one season”, wrote the German journal tanz on the nomination of Osiel Gouneo as “Dancer of the Year 2017”. Since September 2016, Osiel has been dancing as principal on the stage at the National Theatre Munich. After an injury forced him to take a lengthy break before the start of the new season, we are happy to announce that he is now back! Giving his stage premiere this season on January 5, 2018 in Spartacus, is the “Dancer of the year 2017”! A good occasion for a little chat:
Osiel Gouneo is back!
Congratulations, Osiel! How did you feel, when you heard that you were chosen as “Dancer of the Year 2017”?
“It is a big honor, obviously. You don’t receive an award like this every year. I am very grateful for the opportunities that the company gave me. My aim since the moment I came here has always been to grow as an artist. The repertoire here is very fascinating and allows me to grow. Also I am very thankful to the ballet masters and the director, who are very skilled and capable in leading an artist in the right direction. From the very beginning, the most important thing for me was to support the company as much as I can. As in every company, it is all about sacrifice and what you can give to the whole team.”
Spartacus has been a huge success for the company and for you in particular and it will now also be your first role to dance this season. What’s it like to dance this role?
“Spartacus is this kind of character you put in all or nothing: You cannot be in between. When I heard that I was to dance the role, the first thing I did was watching the Spartacus TV-series. Of course, the series has many details the ballet doesn’t have. But it gave me a good insight into his characters, everything that happens to him and to his friends. So I tried to understand the way the characters think and feel. Spartacus is the kind of character that you never forget, neither physically nor emotionally. This is also why it is very hard to get out of the role after a performance. There it so much adrenalin during the whole show! But actually that also is not the most difficult part... (laughing) The most difficult part is to recover from that physical ordeal, because your body suffered so much from jumping and stressing yourself.”
Don Quijote will be the first reopening in 2018, in January at the Prinzregententheater and you will dance the leading role Basilio. Do you have a special affinity to this character?
“Basilio is the very first character I was thinking of when I was a kid. I went back to Cuba this summer and my mother had a surprise for me: it was a drawing of me from my childhood. I used to draw a lot. This particular drawing was a painting of myself as Basilio. I wasn’t performing the character at that time, but I already saw myself in that role. It was definitely a dream role of me. Since then I have been dancing the role so many times and each time I found something else in it. It’s a beautiful thing… It’s a gift. In Munich, I only did it at the Gala at the beginning of 2017. It is important for me to realize, that I now achieved something that I had been dreaming of 16 years ago.”
Both the critics and the audience love your endless pirouettes and your jumps that seem to withstand gravity. Are these the challenge of ballet? Or what would you say it is?
“I always try to find a good balance between caring for the technical stuff and the artistic aspect. My aim is to use my technique as a decoration of my dancing in the story. Actually, I think more about the artistic part. It is like entering a new flat, the walls are all white, there is just nothing there, and then you start decorating and putting things inside, that are your own, that are your taste. That’s why I try to do the characters with turns and jumps. That is me finding my way with a role. Every time you dance in the theatre, there is usually a good quantity in the audience who don’t have a deep knowledge about all the technical details and subtleties. But you can try to give them an impression, give them something to take home as a beautiful memory from the show. You can make them feel what you feel.”
Is there still room for another passion in your life, besides dance?
“Oh yeah, for example, I love decoration, I love fashion and I’m a huge fan of acting. I actually do ballet because I like acting. I would love to play in a drama. I would love to have a try and prove myself in other challenges like these… Or maybe in a movie?! (laughing).”
The interview was conducted by Antonia Hostlowsky and Meihui Yu