When did you start dancing?
I was 8 years old. It was a normal day when my sister’s teacher, Wasil Tupin, saw me at the door. I was enjoying the music and watching my sister dance to the rhythm, and he invited me to come to class the next day.
Why did you start dancing?
Music took my attention from the start and I felt the need to express myself through movement.
Which dancer inspired you most as a child?
The iconic Vladimir Vasiliev captured my attention at the age of 10, when I saw his Spartacus on video, and he has been my inspiration since then. Also, Maximiliano Guerra and Julio Bocca are two dancers that are very special in my life. They inspired me in so many ways. They were my mentors and they opened the doors for my dance career.
Which dancer do you most admire?
I don’t usually admire the dancer, I admire the person, because they project what they truly are when dancing. The person I admire is my sister, Erica Cornejo, Principal Dancer at Boston Ballet.
What’s your favourite role?
Solor in La Bayadère is my favourite role. The music of this ballet takes me to a different place. When I made my début in the role at the Teatro Real in Madrid, it felt like a dream come true.
What role have you never played but would like to?
One of the roles that I would like to play, and I think will in time, is the role of Onegin: I love dramatic and actor roles like this one.
What’s your favourite ballet to watch?
It may sound ironic, but I love to be on stage and perform; I don’t like to watch what I do.
Who is your favourite choreographer?
As a classical ballet dancer I have to say that, of course, Petipa has to be one, the creator of almost all the classics. I find him amazing. MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet is by far one of the perfect full-length ballets. Roland Petit is another genius choreographer and I love his Jeune homme et la mort… another jewel of all time is Jerome Robins’s Fancy Free. One of my favourite American choreographers is Twyla Tharp; I love her creation Push comes to shove.
Who is your favourite theatre or cinema director?
Steven Spielberg is one of my favourite movie directors. With his movies, he has made me smile, made me wonder and when I was growing up he opened up my imagination.
Who is your favourite actor?
I find Leonardo DiCaprio the most versatile actors I have ever seen.
Who is your favourite singer?
A few: Sting, Michael Jackson, Tracy Chapman, Adele and also a group, The Beatles.
What is your favourite book?
My favourite books were the once my sister used to read to me at bedtime when I was little.
What is your favourite film?
Inception is one of my favourite films. Dreams and supernatural phenomena are very fascinating and I find that there are many hidden meanings in them.
Which is your favourite city?
My favourite cities are New York, Milan, London and Barcelona.
What do you like most about yourself?
I like that I can sleep anywhere, any time and in any position.
What do you dislike about yourself?
In a humid weather I dislike my puffy hair.
What was your proudest moment?
My proudest moments are when my family and my friends can achieve their goals. One of those proudest moments was when my sister became a mum and made me, obviously, an uncle.
When and where were you happiest?
I recall recovering from injuries as one of the happiest moments. Health is very important to be happy.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
The greatest love is to have inner peace. With that you can find your true love.
What is your greatest fear?
To feel alone. And by that I mean when people don’t care about you as a human being.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would change my arms for wings… or perhaps I should say to add wings to my body because the feeling of hugs is one of the most beautiful things.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My greatest achievement is to do what I love to do.
What is your most treasured possession?
I don’t have treasured materialistic possessions. My treasures are my memories of the love of my family and close ones.
What is your greatest extravagance?
I love cars, and when I get one, it’s extravagant!
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
To be friends with absolutely everybody is a mysterious virtue to me.
On what occasion do you lie?
Lies can have a good meaning sometimes. If you can prevent someone from being hurt, without making any changes to their lives, it is a good occasion.
If you hadn’t been a dancer what would you have liked to be?
I love sports. Perhaps a soccer player? I love drawing so perhaps also a painter? I also take nice photos so perhaps a photographer too!
What is your most marked characteristic?
My LATINO blood, but I’m sure people who know me can answer this question better.
What quality do you most value in a friend?
When you call someone a friend is because he or she has all the qualities you value. I value honesty at the right time. Sometimes honesty with wrong timing is not honesty, it’s only harmful, and a friend should have the quality to embrace you with kindness.
What quality do you most value in a colleague?
Which living person do you most admire?
I can’t give you a name… I admire the people that help to keep the Earth a healthy planet for humans. People who help other people and we don’t even know about them.
What do you most dislike?
I dislike fakeness.
What talent would you most like to have?
I would like to have the talent to sing.
What’s your idea of perfect happiness?
Perfect happiness is to do what I love to do and to be with whom I like to be. Where? It doesn’t matter.
How would you like to die?
My body will die, but my soul never will. I would like my mind and my body not to be afraid of dying and to die in peace, no matter the situation.
What is your motto?
Live your life. We are all different and unique.
Herman Cornejo – a biography
Herman Cornejo was born in Mercedes, San Luis, Argentina and began his ballet studies at the age of eight at the Instituto Superior de Arte at Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires. In 1995 when he was fourteen he received a scholarship from the School of American Ballet, the dance school of New York City Ballet. On his return to Buenos Aires he was invited to join Julio Bocca’s Ballet Argentino.
At the age of 16, Cornejo was the Gold Medal winner of the VIII International Dance Competition in Moscow (1997), the youngest dancer ever in the history of the competition. Upon his return from Moscow Cornejo was then promoted to principal dancer with Ballet Argentino, alternating with Julio Bocca in all the principal roles in the repertoire during the company’s worldwide tours. In 1999 he joined American Ballet Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet, was promoted to Soloist in August 2000 and to Principal Dancer in August 2003.
His roles with ABT include Solor and the Bronze Idol in La Bayadère, the Red Cowboy in Billy the Kid, Pyotr in The Bright Stream, the Jester in Ben Stevenson’s Cinderella, Franz in Coppélia, Conrad, Ali, Lankendem and Birbanto in Le Corsaire, It Was Spring in Dim Lustre, Basilio in Don Quixote, Puck in The Dream, the first sailor in Fancy Free, Alain in La Fille mal gardée, Ivan in Alexei Ratmansky’s Firebird, the Peruvian in Gaîté Parisienne, Albrecht in Giselle, Lescaut in Manon, the Nutcracker-Prince in Kevin McKenzie’s The Nutcracker, the Nutcracker-Prince in Alexei Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker, Cassio in Othello, Petrouchka, the Son in Prodigal Son, Abderakman and Bernard in Raymonda, Romeo and Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, Prince Désiré and the Bluebird in The Sleeping Beauty, the Rose in Le Spectre de la Rose, Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake, James in La Sylphide, Aminta and Eros in Sylvia, the third movement in Symphony in C, Hortensio in The Taming of the Shrew, Le Grand Pas de Deux, Sinatra Suite, Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux and Theme and Variations.
Cornejo created the role of Fortune in HereAfter, Rabbit in Rabbit and Rogue and Caliban in The Tempest, and leading roles in The Brahms/Haydn Variations, C. to C. (Close to Chuck), Concerto No. 1 for Piano and Orchestra, Glow – Stop, Pretty Good Year, Seven Sonatas, Symphony #9 and I Dig Love in Within You Without You: A Tribute to George Harrison.
Cornejo was also a principal dancer of the Corella Ballet Castilla y León in Spain and made his début with the company in September 2008 at Teatro Real de Madrid. His repertoire with Corella includes Solor in La Bayadère, Siegfried in Swan Lake, Henry in Christopher Wheeldon’s VIII, the second couple in Wheeldon’s DGV, and the third movement in Angel Corella’s String Sextet. He has made numerous guest appearances around the world including performing as a principal guest dancer with Ballet del Teatro Argentino de La Plata, Compañia de Danza Comtemporánea de Cuba, Boston Ballet, New York City Ballet and Sapporo Ballet.
As a young dancer, Cornejo was a first prize winner at several major competitions in South America. Other awards and citations include the 2000 Peace Messenger prize from UNESCO, the 2005 nomination for best dancer for the Benois de la Danse, in 2010 the Mr. Expressivity prize at the 9th International Ballet Festival “Dance Open” in St. Petersburg, where he performed his first work of choreography, Tango y yo, with the music Fuga y Misterio by Astor Piazzolla and, in 2013, a Bessie Award for outstanding performer.
Cornejo has been partnering Alessandra Ferri since her return to dance in several works including Martha Clarke’s Chéri.