Körbes in Swan Lake (photo by Angela Sterling, courtesy Pacific Northwest Ballet)

Carla Körbes’ Words of Wisdom

After an illustrious career at Pacific Northwest Ballet, ballerina Carla Körbes is leaving the company this June. But as sad as it is to say goodbye, the happy news is Körbes, who’s been a PNB principal since 2006, isn’t hanging up her pointe shoes yet. In fact, she’ll be performing as the artist in residence at Colorado’s Vail International Dance Festival next month.

Originally from Brazil, Körbes moved to the U.S. in the 1990s to study at the School of American Ballet in NYC. She became a New York City Ballet apprentice in 1999 and quickly joined the main company. Though she was promoted to soloist at NYCB in 2005, she moved across the country soon after to join PNB. Ten years later, on the eve of her retirement, Dance Spirit asked Körbes to reflect on what she wishes she’d known when she was starting out.

Taking time for self-praise makes you a better artist. Being self-critical perfectionists makes us better dancers. But if we only see ourselves in a negative way, our artistry will suffer. It’s crucial to recognize your talents and how far you’ve come.

There’s always more room for discovery. I grew up with very classical training, and until I was 14, I was only aware of story ballets. But at 15, when I moved to NYC and discovered Balanchine, my whole world turned upside-down. And once I joined PNB, my world got even larger as I was exposed to William Forsythe and Nacho Duato’s work. Recently, I was blown away by a Crystal Pite piece. I’ve been a dancer my entire life, and I still feel there’s so much to explore in the dance world.

Receiving criticism from teachers or ballet masters doesn’t mean you’re failing. Harsh words are sometimes meant as encouragement. But early in my career, I often took my director’s critiques too personally. I went from getting a job and being on top of the world to feeling insecure and ashamed of any weakness. Learn to use criticism as a constructive tool—it’ll help you stay positive and continue to work hard and improve. Otherwise, you’ll end up shutting down and stunting your growth as an artist.

ABT Adieus

Three other ballerinas are also taking their final bows: American Ballet Theatre principals Paloma Herrera, Julie Kent and Xiomara Reyes are retiring at the end of this season, too.

Paloma Herrera, who joined ABT’s corps de ballet in 1991, will give her final performance

as the title role in Giselle on May 27 (matinee).

Julie Kent, who joined ABT as an apprentice in 1985 and is the longest-standing ABT dancer in history, will give her farewell performance as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet on June 20.

Xiomara Reyes, who joined ABT as a soloist in 2001, will give her final performance on May 27 as Giselle.

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