Dancer Spotlight! Paulo Hernandez-Farella
At age 9, Paulo, who described themselves as an "itty-bitty butterball," fell in love with the art of dance. After a sustained injury and a summer off from dancing as a student at USC Kaufman, Paulo was unsure about their future or moving forward with a career in dance, but the opportunity to represent their school and travel with friends to Japan to perform on a global stage reinvigorated their passion.
Now at one of their dream Companies, Paulo can continue performing on stages across the world and feel seen as a nonbinary Latinx artist.
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Learn More About Paulo
Name: Paulo Francis Hernandez-Farella
Born & Raised: Los Angeles California
Joined BH: May 2019
Who has supported your passion for dance?
There are so many notable mentors and teachers in my life. From my first experience with dance in the nonprofit California Dance Institute, to LA County High School for the Arts, the Marat Daukayev School of Ballet, to USC Kaufman. Throughout it all, my family were my greatest supporters. Coming to every show. Driving me to every dance class. Helping me find scholarships so I could continue doing what I love. Without my siblings and parents, I would have never learned to love myself and build the confidence to pursue a career in dance.
When did you first know you wanted to dance?
I began dancing in an after-school nonprofit called the California Dance Institute, getting kids active through dance. I began with them in the 4th grade learning to step-touch at age 9, when I was an itty-bitty butterball insecure in the body I was born in. In that first class, I fell in love. I was allowed to be energetic and “the most,” I was allowed to be me in my truest form. From then on, I knew that dance would be my everything as it gave me a safe space to self-discover and make mistakes. I had no idea what was to come, that there were several styles of dance and a rich cultural history spanning from Jazz to Ballet and beyond. I then started ballet at 11, and the rest is history. I love how perfection is unrealistic and unattainable. You can never stop growing as a dancer, and even after a performance career, you can never stop growing to be a better arts administrator or teacher.
What was your most memorable performance?
My most memorable performance would have to be at the 2017USC Global Conference in Tokyo, Japan with USC Kaufman. 10 of us were chosen to perform several works at their closing gala. I got to travel with my closest friends and it was the first time I had ever left the United States. It helped me realize that through dance I could tour the world, meet new people, and develop as a global artist. In that program I performed repertoire choreographed by Petipa, Rhoden, Kylian, and Balanchine on a global stage. It was an honor to perform in those masterworks and an honor to be a representative of my university. This performance also happened at a very difficult time for me, I had just come off an injury and taken the entire summer off dance. I had doubts whether I would be able or good enough to pursue a career in dance, or if I even wanted a career in dance. Nonetheless, this trip and these works helped solidify my love for the artform and helped me realize what I was capable of as a dancer. (Shout out to the iconic Jodie Gates for selecting me to be a part of that performance, coaching me, and guiding me to where I am now).
Why did you choose to come to Ballet Hispánico?
Ballet Hispánico had always been my dream company. As I grew and developed in college, I found that dance is an integral artform in the development of cultures around the world. That through dance you can teach and inspire the next generation of the world. That through dance you can create art to protest the injustices in the world or tell the stories of the oppressed/underserved. That through dance a nonbinary latinx, like myself, can perform on stages worldwide and hopefully help others who identify with me, feel seen or know they are not alone. Ballet Hispánico is one of the only companies in the world I see enact and thrive in intersectionality. I knew that at Ballet Hispánico I would be respected and loved for being the unique individual I am. That it was a company with a culturally driven message and an opportunity to be a proud Hispanic amongst other proud people of color, led by a great Latino LGBTQIA+ CEO and Artistic Director. I knew that there would be opportunities to teach the next generation at home in NYC and around the world. I knew that I would be able to perform the most excellent choreographic masterworks while still being a part of new creations. In just one year with the company, I have been able to do all this and more.
How do you see dance progressing as an artform? What impact do you feel you or your generation of dancers will have on the field of dance
As the world is ever-changing, so is dance. We have seen progress through this pandemic: that people can still teach/mentor virtually, rehearse virtually, and create impactful pieces of art on a form other than live performance. As a community we are resilient. I believe as my generation continues to grow and influence the world of dance, we will continue to progress culturally. One day we may be able to do-away with gender-based training, to allow for more individual freedom so that people like me growing up, don’t have to feel tied to a certain “look” or aspire for a body that may be unobtainable. Moreover, dance has always been political and will continue to be political. I feel as though my generation is unafraid of this conflict and is ready to break systematically oppressive barriers through dance. This is seen through progress in multi-skin colored tights and pointe shoes, through the respect for natural hair, through the respect for pronouns. With dance we can tell these stories and show that although on paper we are deemed a “minority,” we are far from mediocre and less than.