Welcome back to Pointe of View. I’m excited to sit down with another one of our company dancers, Andres Castillo. This is Andres’ 2nd season with the Alabama Ballet Company. You have seen him on stage in principal roles such as James in La Sylphide, Cavalier in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, Prince Desire in The Sleeping Beauty and most recently as Raymond in Blue Suede Shoes and much more. Join me as we chat with Andres and get to know him and his point of view.
Ashlyn: Hey Andres! Thanks for joining me today. I appreciate you taking time out of your rehearsal schedule to sit down with me. How are you?
Andres: I’m good, thank you for having me here.
Ashlyn: You’re welcome! Let’s start by giving everyone a little bit of a background about who you are, where you came from, and your background story.
Andres: I’m going to start saying that I’m from Colombia. I started dancing when I was 9 years old. And the reason I went to school was because my dad was a math teacher in the school, so my mom wanted me to spend more time with him, so that’s why. And then, I don’t know, after eight years of school I joined the company in Colombia and I danced with them for 7 years, and that was before I decided to come to the United States to try something different. I’ve been here for 6 years now and I’m very happy about it.
Ashlyn: What company did you come from before you joined the Alabama Ballet Company?
Andres: Before I was with Ballet San Antonio for three seasons.
Ashlyn: How’s Alabama been treating you so far?
Andres: Good, I love it here and I’m really happy to be here and I get to dance a lot, so that’s very important to me.
Ashlyn: What is a day in the life like of a professional dancer like yourself?
Andres: Okay, I wake up in the morning and the first thing I think about is, “What am I going to wear for the class, what am I going to eat before class.” And, I don’t know, I feel like everything is just about ballet– for me it’s just everything I do it’s just thinking about how it is going to affect me for rehearsal, sort of like how my body is going to feel if I eat something that is sugar, that’s what I think about I guess, I don’t know.
Ashlyn: So then, once you leave your house and you come to the studio, you guys have class starting at 10 for about 2 hours, take a short break and then dive right into rehearsals. So, that’s a long day.
Andres: Yes but, I really like it sometimes, when we’re having a break like now, I just miss it, I just want to be in the studio with the people and just dancing, that’s something that I love to do.
Ashlyn: Do you have a favorite part of class?
Andres: Yes, I like jumping, I love jumping.
Ashlyn: Well, you’re good at that, so I can see why.
Andres: Yes, that’s definitely my favorite part, I don’t know I am strong– that’s my strong part.
Ashlyn: Awesome. Going back to before you come to class, do you have a favorite breakfast or anything that you like to eat throughout the day to keep fueled?
Andres: I don’t eat breakfast because I don’t like the feeling of being full before class but I try to have a protein bar or pack a banana before class so I have some energy and I can do whatever I need to do during the day. I don’t eat much during the day, I just wait until I get home and then I can eat everything I want.
Ashlyn: So, no lunch or anything?
Andres: No, I try not to.
Ashlyn: Oh, wow. I need to follow your diet. Since not just at the Alabama Ballet but even in your past roles, have you had a favorite that you’ve gotten to perform?
Andres: Yes, my favorite is Basilio from Don Quixote. That was always my dream, I always wanted to do it, I don’t know, maybe because of the music, maybe because of the style, I don’t know, I just always wanted to do it. and I got to do it– that was 3 years ago? When I was with Ballet San Antonio, and that was really exciting.
Ashlyn: Yes, we’re hoping to bring Don Quixote back in the next couple of seasons, so hopefully you’ll be around for that one. What about at Alabama Ballet? In our company.
Andres: My favorite here, I think about James, was my first time doing La Sylphide and it’s a fun role.
Ashlyn: Is there a dream role that you haven’t yet gotten to perform, that you’d like to do one day?
Andres: Yes, and I think we’re doing it this season, it’s Romeo for Romeo and Juliet. I’m really excited about that, that’s one of my favorite roles.
Ashlyn: What, from what you know, is more challenging about that role?
Andres: I would say the acting. There is a lot of acting and you have to be happy, and then you have to be sad and then– it just has a beautiful story, everybody knows the story, so it’s just fun I think to get to be that person.
Ashlyn: Yes, it’s very action packed, there’s also lots of sword-fighting and–
Andres: Yes, it has everything you want to do.
Ashlyn: It does, and that one will be with the symphony, of course, so that’s an exciting performance to be a part of. What is that like, by the way, being able to perform with the live symphony, have you done that before?
Andres: Yes, I have and it feels different having live music. So, it’s different, it feels good but sometimes it’s difficult because you never know what they’re going to play, it’s always different from how the music is on the CD or whatever because you know how it’s going to be sometimes, and with the live music it is like, “Oh, maybe this is going to be different.” So, you have to be ready, but it’s better than– I don’t know, it’s better that way because you get to feel the music in a different way.
Ashlyn: What is on your playlist right now Besides ballet music, of course.
Andres: Besides ballet music. I don’t know if you know this but I really like reggaeton is something that we listen to in my country. So, that’s my favorite kind of music, so that’s what I listen to now. And people tell me I need to listen to music from here, like English and I try but I don’t feel the same way when I listen to that music.
Ashlyn: When we are in the theater before a show do you have any pre-show rituals that you do?
Andres: Of course I do, I just– I don’t know, I love being in the theater, that’s my favorite part of being a ballet dancer, because when you know it’s time, after all the rehearsals after all the time you will spend in the studios, it’s the time to show the audience what you can do. So, I love being in the theater and I always try to walk around the stage before the shows or– I don’t know, find a connection, I don’t know this is weird, maybe nobody knows about this but that’s something that I try to do, and I just find my space in the stage before we start the performance, yes.
Ashlyn: Do you get pre-show nerves?
Ashlyn: How do you channel them?
Andres: I get more anxious and I try to be distracted, I play games on my phone, something that keeps me busy. I talk to my friends or sometimes I just, if I’m feeling a little bit down I try to go and watch other people dancing, so that makes me feel better or get inspired, something like that, yes.
Ashlyn: What’s the hardest role you’ve ever performed in your career?
Andres: The hardest, I think it would be Basilio from Don Quixote. There is a lot of dancing and you have to keep the same energy the whole time– there are other roles where you get to be sad a little bit and that doesn’t take as much energy as Basilio because the whole time is like you have to keep the energy up, and I don’t know, it’s the steps the partnering stuff it’s like– was really challenging when I did it, yes.
Ashlyn: Off subject a little bit, but with Blue Suede Shoes was that really challenging to channel that character and have such a different style?
Andres: It was really challenging and fun at the same time but was something different, something that I never thought I would do in my life. Especially for me coming from a different country, I didn’t grew up listening to this music, so it’s like I can’t say that I know all the songs now. It was fun, and especially working with my friends here and we found a way to do it right in our own way. I think we did a great job because that’s what we hear from people.
Ashlyn: Oh, yes, I think everyone agrees that you guys did an awesome job. Is there anything else you want to add before we wrap up?
Andres: That’s all.
Ashlyn: Well, thanks for taking time out of class. I know you have a busy rehearsal week coming up next week, as you start on The Nutcracker.
Thank you again for joining me. And everyone, be sure to subscribe to our podcast on Spotify and you can be notified when the next episodes come out. Until next time, thanks for joining us.