When did you start dancing?
I started studying ballet when I was seven years old.
Why did you start dancing?
I have no idea! Nobody in my family danced. My parents loved classical music and I heard it all the time but that was all. I just decided ballet was what I wanted. All I know is that I was absolutely determined to be a ballet dancer!
Which dancers inspired you most as a child?
I remember especially my fascination with the famous videos of Baryshnikov dancing in Don Quixote and Alessandra Ferri in Romeo and Juliet when I was a little girl, in Buenos Aires.
Which dancer do you most admire?
Three great artists: Mikhail Baryshnikov, Sylvie Guillem and Alessandra Ferri.
What´s your favourite role?
I don't have a favourite role, each of them gives me great happiness and it is wonderful that a company like ABT has a vast repertoire in classical and contemporary roles allowing me to express an incredible number of different characters on stage.
What role have you never played but would like to?
I would love to dance Onegin one day. It is so dramatic, and that is one of the reasons.
I love the American Ballet Theatre so much because of all the opportunities I get to tell a story, to get the audience involved. That role would be very special to me.
What is your favourite ballet to watch?
All the ballets, classical and contemporary, especially those that tell a story, and also I have great interest in opera, theatre, musicals, recitals… I enjoy deeply performances that reach my soul.
Who is your favourite writer?
Among Latin American writers: Mario Benedetti, Marcela Serrano, Isabel Allende, Claudia Piñeiro and many English language authors.
Who is your favourite singer?
Mana, Diego Torres, Alicia Keys, John Mayer, Luis Miguel and many others.
Which is your favourite city?
New York and Buenos Aires are both my home and I love them; and there are other cities that I like very much Tokyo, Havana and lots more.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
To have become a professional dancer with the American Ballet Theatre in New York at the age of fifteen, and realising that dance is a never-ending process. Little by little, you forget about technique because that´s what you do every day. The stronger it is, the freer you feel. The more roles you get given, the more experience you have, and that´s what makes you grow and realise which are the ones you really enjoy dancing.
What is your most treasured possession?
I am not really attached to material things.
What is your greatest extravagance?
I am a very low profile person.
On what occasion do you lie?
I do not lie. I believe that people should be transparent and honest and I do the same.
What is your most marked characteristic?
That's difficult to answer… it would be interesting to know what people´s opinion is.
What quality do you most value in a friend?
Transparency, and the ability to communicate and share.
What quality do you most value in a colleague?
Professionalism and generosity.
What do you most dislike?
Greed, selfishness and lack of solidarity.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
What talent would you most like to have?
To dance beautifully!! [NB We think Paloma already has this talent!]
What's your idea of perfect happiness?
A world more just and with equal opportunities for all.
How would you like to die?
What is your motto?
“Live fullest in the present” and “What doesn't kill you makes you stronger”.
Usually, the questionnaire finishes here, but while we were talking to Paloma we wanted to ask two further questions:
What did your family think when you joined the American Ballet Theatre at fifteen-years-old?
My family always wanted me to be happy. They taught me to keep my feet on the ground. So if you have things you cannot take, sooner or later it shows on the stage. I know they love me whatever I do. They never said, “You have to come back home to Argentina!” or “You have to marry!” or “You have to have children!” or “You have to stay there and dance forever!” I never had that pressure. It´s a great feeling to be free!
You've danced Don Quixote many times. How do you keep a role like that so fresh?
I think you have to be prepared. I love working in the studio, in class, to build up my technique so I can be prepared for anything. I just love being on stage in any role and it is always new.
Find out more about Paloma Herrera on her site: palomaherrera.com
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.