To be the first Mexican performer to become Principal Dancer in an important European company turned Elisa Carrillo Cabrera (36 years old) into a celebrity in her country. Born in Texcoco (Mexico) she took her first ballet steps at the age of six. Trained in the Escuela Nacional de Danza Clásica (Classical Dance National School), in Mexico, and in the English National Ballet School, she made her professional debut in the Stuttgart Ballet in 1999, where she was promoted to soloist.
Schéhérazade" in Gala "Elisa Carrillo Cabrera & friends" in Mexico © Carlos Quezada
Following her heart, in 2007 she headed with her husband Mikhail Kaniskin for the Staatsballett, in Berlin, which was then directed by Vladimir Malakhov. She had to pay dearly for her decision since she joined the ballet as demi-soloist, although in 2011 she was promoted to Principal Dancer.
Today a happy mother of a baby daughter, the Mexican artist is moved by emotion when sharing with DANCE FOR YOU some of the key episodes in her successful professional trajectory.
How did you get involved in ballet?
My family comes from a very humble background, and although they always liked classical music, they had nothing to do with dance. I came into ballet by chance. When we moved to Mexico City my mother enroll me in ballet lessons because she wanted me to have a good back posture, and the teacher said I had a natural flair for it. When I was six they took me to watch “La Sylphide” at the Teatro Bellas Artes (Fine Arts Theatre), and I was fascinated by it. To be honest, there wasn’t a specific moment when I thought I’d become a professional. I just got used to that life style. I loved ballet so much and it made me so happy that it became my life. At 14 or 15, I realized that it was a choice for life.
Elisa dancing "La Péri" in the Ballet Gala in Kremlin, Russia © Svetlana Postoenko
Your first hard decision was to leave Mexico when you were just a teenager.
When they offered me the opportunity to go to Mexico, I didn’t stop to think about the implications. To start with, I didn’t speak English. But to travel to Europe was a fantastic opportunity. I didn’t think about the difficulties until I made my luggage and arrived in the airport; thankfully my mum was with me at the beginning. I only became fully aware of it all...
Elisa in "La Péri" in Gala "Elisa Carrillo Cabrera & friends" in Mexico © Carlos Quezada