Amara C. Perez
Amara Perez is a dancer from A Coruña, Spain. She is 28 years old, and moved to New York City two years and a half ago. Although she started her dancing career in classic ballet, she has now moved to a more contemporary style. She works with two dancing companies in New York: Spark Movement Collective and The Next Stage Project, and continues her training with classes every day.
What’s your dancing training?
I’ve been studying dance since I was 8 years old. I took the classic dancing degree, which lasts 10 years and then, after a little break, I went back to it (more than 4 years ago) when I moved to Madrid. I spent 2 years there studying scenic arts, music, and dance at Scaena, Centro de Artes Escénicas de Carmen Roche. It was there and then I decided to come to New York, encouraged by my teachers.
What kind of dance do you perform?
My degree is in classic dance but since I came to New York, I only perform contemporary dance. However, in my everyday classes I train for everything, from ballet to hip hop or contemporary dance.
Who are your inspirations in dance?
My inspirations have always been my teachers because they have always been my guides who have led me through to the good way. They are the ones who have made me the dancer I am now. Of course, I also like searching online for the best companies in the world to see their dancers’ profiles.
Why did you come to New York?
Because in this city you can find the best dancers in the world. Here there are the best among the best, and I want to compete with them.
How were your beginnings in New York?
It hasn’t been easy. I sweat blood; I take my classes every single day. For me there’s no such excuse like tiredness. I am working very hard. You need to look for your limits and work hard. I’ve worked very hard to get what I have.
Did you know people in the city?
When I came I only knew one person here. He is another dancer from Spain who I met for 5 minutes, one day in my dancing school in Madrid. The first days were very intense, I cried a lot but, at the same time, the day after I got here I started my dancing classes. I didn’t want the city and sorrow to put me down. I knew I couldn’t waste one single day in this city or it would take me over. I kept repeating to myself, “Go to class, work hard, and you’ll get your reward”.
Has your reward arrived already?
I think so. I am a member in two different dancing companies, Spark Movement Collective and The Next Stage Project. I even get paid at one of them! Both of them perform contemporary dance.
Do you only support yourself through dance?
This city is very hard and very expensive, so I have some help from my parents who support me in this career.
How has New York City influenced your art?
I really see that this city has influenced my style a lot. In Madrid I was 100% classic. Thanks to my mentor, Fernando Lázaro (who I admire so much), I discovered contemporary lyric jazz, and it was after that when I started to get my training in contemporary dancing. Then, you come to New York City and you realize there are 20 different types of modern dance, 20 types of contemporary dance, or 20 types of lyric jazz… I try everything, and if I like it I keep working on it. In this sense I have changed a lot; I don’t want to think that it was just an improvement on my technique, but in dancing culture. Now you can play any kind of music and I can improvise different styles.
Have you found what you were looking for in New York?
From my own point of view and my expectations, I got what I expected. I love the companies where I work. Everybody sees me as an equal; I am very happy with them. They don’t care if I’m Spanish, they respect my style and show me their support.
Where do you want to get in your professional career?
I want to be the best I can be. The moment when I see that I can’t do better, when my body has reached its limits, or when I’m not happy anymore – I will know it will be the end. The most important thing for me is to be happy.
However, I can tell you that there are two companies that I would love to join which are The Cedar Lake Contemporary and Koresh Dance . Every night I go to their website to see their dancers, their profiles, and what they are looking for.
Is there a mix of cultures and nationalities in your companies?
In the one I don’t get paid, there are people from all around the world; in the other one, they are only Americans, and there’s a Swiss, and me, from Europe.
Do they have a good knowledge of the Spanish art?
I must say that American people don’t have any idea of the Spanish culture and they tend to confuse it with Latin American art. I think that what AENY is doing to promote the Spanish culture and artists is very necessary in the United States. Americans tend to relate Spain with partying, relaxing and having fun.
Would you recommend other dancers in Spain to come to New York?
If they are ready and willing to spend almost 24 hours a day for the art I would. This is how you succeed in this city, you need to work hard, you need to live almost 100% for your work. It took me a while to learn how to balance my working life with some leisure time. But, of course I recommend dancers to come to New York, because here you will find the best among the best. People are amazing and you learn a lot, from the good and the bad moments. People are very nice but this is hard.
I’m not sure yet. Now I need to apply for the artist visa, but I need to plan if I’m going to stay much more, or go back to Europe. After more than two years, living so far from your family, it is something that makes you reconsider your future. I am very happy here but I miss being closer to my family.
What is the worst thing about New York?
Loneliness. Being so far from home and your family. And, also, the fact that there is so much competence, and everything happens so fast that you need to be always ready for an audition no matter what, otherwise you lose your opportunity.
What is the best thing about New York?
The city itself, and the competition you find in your field. It makes you want to be better, to improve every single day to beat the competition.
Why did you become a member of AENY?
I was looking for people who were in the same situation as me. I wanted to meet people who were artists, and who would share some similar experience, help each other – and to see that I am not the only one struggling and making it happen here.