Ballet star Marcelo Gomes on learning from the bad, and his new freelance career
- Brazilian who quit American Ballet Theatre under a cloud relishes new opportunities
- Dancer, a guest in Hong Kong Ballet’s Giselle, says company can skyrocket under Septime Webre
Marcelo Gomes, one of the world’s greatest ballet dancers, is in Hong Kong to guest with Hong Kong Ballet in its production of Giselle.
The Brazilian-born star was a principal with the American Ballet Theatre when he made headlines for the wrong reasons last December, accused of sexual misconduct eight years earlier.
Although it did not involve anyone from the company, in the context of #MeToo the ABT board launched an investigation. Gomes promptly resigned and the investigation was dropped.
There’s been much support for him from the ballet community since, and today he is forging a new career appearing with the likes of the Mariinsky Ballet, Washington Ballet, Dresden Semperoper Ballett and rising company Sarasota Ballet.
You’re here to dance Albrecht in Giselle, a role you’ve done hundreds of times. Has your interpretation changed over the years?
Absolutely. You bring the experience of your whole life onto the stage. You bring everything that you’ve learned and the past times that you’ve done it, you try to … not recreate that feeling, but build on it.
Albrecht is someone who’s never had much grief in his life, someone who’s gotten away with everything. I think he really is in love with Giselle and he doesn’t realise how much trouble he is in until it’s too late.
You see his entrance in Act 1 and it’s full of youth and confidence … Then at the end of Act 2, he is walking forward in a very, very different way. He’s a changed man, he’s gone through this incredible ordeal and his life was saved. So you have that sense of transformation.
This is the first time you’ve danced with Hong Kong Ballet. How do you find the company?
It’s been wonderful. People want to work, in a really professional, smart way. I was greeted with open arms. And the level is incredible. [Artistic director] Septime Webre can really skyrocket this company if it keeps going this way.
You left ABT at the end of 2017 under unhappy circumstances but, after a horrible start, this year has actually been a good one for you. You got married – congratulations!
That’s the best thing that has happened! Nicholas is an angel. I’m so incredibly lucky to know him and for him to be in my life. I’m so grateful to be able to say that we’re going to share our lives together.
It’s striking how much support you’ve received from the ballet community, with invitations to dance with numerous companies.
I am so grateful for all the opportunities I’ve been given with ABT and [now] in this new chapter of my life. All my past ballerinas have been really wonderful – Alessandra Ferri invited me to do the World Ballet Festival in Japan, I did a season with Julie Kent at Washington Ballet, I went to Tbilisi to partner Nina Ananiashvili in Romeo and Juliet. In December I have a new project, Sleeping Beauty Dreams, with Diana Vishneva.
I’ve never taken my career for granted. I’ve always valued my time wherever I went, when I was with ABT but even more now. We are blessed to do what we do, we’ve been given this gift of transporting the audience into a different place.
I’m finding [this freelance career] fascinating … and fulfilling in a way that I did not think it was going to be. I don’t think I’d have gotten these opportunities if I had not gone through a change. When you go through something bad in your life, whatever it is, you learn a lot about yourself, you learn a lot about people and you have a chance to grow.
And you find out who your friends are.
You said that, not me!
One door closes, another one opens.
It sounds cliched, but it’s true.