With the Singapore Dance Theatre’s 25th Anniversary coming up, it has brought a whole bunch of talented new faces on board. Gwen Pew talks to Nazer Salgado, 26, who joins the company from Ballet Manila.
17 May 2013:
You didn’t start ballet training until the age of 16. Why did you decide to go into the ballet scene at that point?
I didn’t know a single thing about ballet, just the typical stereotypes – ballet being girlish and a hobby for rich people. I decided to give it a chance when Ballet Manila was in need of male dancers and was offering scholarships to those with potential. My neighbour was already a scholar and I decided to give it a try out of curiosity. I didn’t expect to fall in love with this art.
Were you into dance before that?
Not at all. Before ballet, I was into basketball, just like any other boy in my neighbourhood.
Was it difficult to break into ballet and play catch up?
Of course! It was extremely hard. Stretching was torture for me. It hurt. We were taught to bend and break our bodies out of the norm. I remember thinking how hard it would be to survive my first year of training.
Do you ever feel that there’s a lot of pressure on men who decide to become ballet dancer?
Yes. Until today, ballet is stereotyped as a feminine art form. It still surprises most people that real men are capable of dancing in tights and make up. It’s a challenge to explain what ballet is. Like in the Philippines where it isn’t as popular, ballet is generally confused with liturgical dancing and most people don’t understand that it is actually harder than any sport. Plus ballet dancers have to make it look effortless. People have to see ballet in action to understand what it takes to be a ballet dancer.
What has been your most memorable experience so far?
My first ballet class. I remember being very excited. I had no idea it was going to be very difficult! By the end of that simple basic class, my thighs and hip joints were so sore from the stretching and the turnouts. I couldn’t walk normally after that first day. I was exhausted, mentally and physically. That was when I realised the challenge involved in ballet.
What’s your dream role?
Albrecht of Giselle remains my ultimate dream role. There’s a lot of drama and demands to this dance, not only from the ballerina, but from the danseur as well. Love is expressed so intricately through emotions, gestures and dancing. For me, Giselle is the most heart-breaking love story ever told and the most beautiful ballet of all time.
How many hours do you spend practicing each day?
Now that I’m part of Singapore Dance Theatre, I’ve been spending five to six hours in the studio a day, five times a week.
What would you have been if you hadn’t discovered ballet?
I think I would have my own family by now, probably with a simple job to live by. Basketball would still be my hobby.
Tell us something that we can’t find about you on the Internet?
You’d find that I’m generally a quiet person but I can be talkative too. I love to be around my friends, and family means the world to me.