Moisés Martín . Dancer . Atlanta Ballet . Basilio . Don Quixote

HOMETOWN | Reus, Spain | Role on Don Quixote: Basilio | How long at Atlanta Ballet: 4 months Age: 37

Interviewed by : Maryan Aiken . Publisher . PaperGlass Media
 George Balanchine (Photo by Jesús Vallinas)

George Balanchine (Photo by Jesús Vallinas)

I am actually not the only dancer in my family. I have 3 brothers, and we all began dancing at the same time. Of the four, my older brother and I went on to dance professionally. I also played the saxophone when I was younger. I stopped playing as dancing became my main focus, dedicating up to 6 hours a day to ballet.
— Moisés Martín . Role on Don Quixote: Basilio

Headshot: Photo by Charlie McCullers. Courtesy of Atlanta Ballet. Who Cares?. George Balanchine (Photo by Jesús Vallinas) Festival de Flores de Genzano. August Bournonville. (Photo by Jesús Vallinas)

How long have you been a professional dancer? I have been dancing professionally Since 1999 when I joined San Francisco Ballet after studying at the San Francisco Ballet School.

What was your first professional role and what company? My first professional role was in the corps de ballet of George Balanchine's Theme & Variation on a tour in Italy with the San Francisco Ballet. I had been learning the role as a student in the San Francisco Ballet School, and when a spot opened up I jumped at the chance to tour internationally.

When did you join Atlanta Ballet? In October of 2017.

How is Don Quixote different from all of the other performances? The passion and Spanish flair in Don Quixote sets it apart from other ballets. The challenge for us as dancers is to embody that authenticity and to give audiences a glimpse into Spanish culture. I feel especially close to this role because it feels so familiar. I enjoy sharing that with the audience and giving them an idea of what it was like to grow up in Spain with the sun, the energy, and the gregarious nature of the Spanish people. This is such a fun production with a humorous twist that leaves everyone with a nice feeling on and off stage.

What is your ultimate goal in terms of professional dancing? 

I certainly still have dream roles that I would be honored to dance. Principal roles in Balanchine's Apollo and Theme & Variations, and James Cranko's Onegin are high on my list. I try to focus more on enjoying the day-to-day experience of being a professional dancer, but my main goal is to do what I love for as long as I can.  

What's been the most rewarding about being a professional dancer? To be on stage, to connect with the audience, and to share the art form with others. The experience of performing is one that is hard to compare to. As a professional dancer, you go out on stage and give it your all, feeling totally exhausted afterwards. There are moments when you give your whole soul to the audience, and that is very special and hard to describe.

What type of preparations do you have to go through to get ready for Don Quixote? I began learning the choreography for Don Quxiote when I first joined Atlanta Ballet in October. Rehearsals take place in the Fall before the performance season begins, and then continue throughout the season before each show. On my own, I do additional cardio on the side and spinning once or twice a week to prepare my body for the high-energy nature of rehearsals and performances. I work to compliment the exercise that we get in the studios every day and often do additional exercises in the morning or the evening to focus on stabilization, strengthening, and stretching. I also try to help my body recover from the work that is done in class and rehearsals, and it is important to balance your exercise with your diet and lots of rest.

The first thing that you do before or after a performance?  
Before a performance, I usually put my makeup on before warming up. I go through a routine of a few exercises followed by some barre before going over the choreography. I always prepare to have enough time to go through these steps before a performance without feeling rushed. I don't go through the choreography fully, as to not tire myself out, but I put the music on and make sure to cycle through the sensations of the movements to prepare for the performance.  

After a hard performance, I usually go home and take an ice bath with Epsom salt for muscles that are swollen or too tight.

 Suite No.2 Op. 17, III: Romance. Uwe Scholz (Pictures by José Jordán)

Have you ever had a moment where you forgot your routine on stage?  
There was a time when I was younger and hadn’t yet learned how to channel my nervous energy that I blanked on stage. For what felt like forever I didn't know what the next step was. Luckily, I had a friend in the wings who shouted the choreography to me and it jolted my memory before too long. 

Take us back to the first time you've ever been accepted to perform for Atlanta Ballet or any other professional companies?
I remember the first time I got to perform on stage with the San Francisco Ballet company while I was still a student in the school. I felt so honored to perform alongside the company, and to travel to places I otherwise never could have gone. I had the opportunity to dance in amazing venues like the Covent Garden in London, the Herodes Atticus in Greece, and the Paris Opera. I couldn't believe that I was able to make a living doing something I was so passionate about. 

  Suite No.2 Op. 17, III: Romance . Uwe Scholz (Pictures by José Jordán)

Suite No.2 Op. 17, III: Romance. Uwe Scholz (Pictures by José Jordán)

What's the biggest misconception about professional dancers? I think there is a general lack of knowledge about the physical preparations that dancers put in to their performances. Many people are not aware of the amount of work it takes to make the choreography appear easy on stage – on top of the physical demands or challenging choreography, lifts, and jumps, we have to perform and embody the characters we are playing to bring the performance to life.  

 Where do you like to hang out in Atlanta? I like the greenery around Atlanta and visit different parks when the weather is nice. While I haven't quite finished exploring the city yet, I have spent some time around Ansley Park and visit Piedmont park when I can.   

A couple things that we should know about you? I am actually not the only dancer in my family. I have 3 brothers, and we all began dancing at the same time. Of the four, my older brother and I went on to dance professionally.  I also played the saxophone when I was younger. I stopped playing as dancing became my main focus, dedicating up to 6 hours a day to ballet.  

Favorite spots in Atlanta? Some of my favorite spots for coffee in the city are Octane and Brash. I like the atmosphere of Fat Matt's Rib Shack with the live music as well.