Elisa Carrillo Cabrera is considered an extraordinary woman. She is the first Mexican to be the first ballerina of Staatsballett, Berlin, one of the most important ballet companies in Europe and the world.
In addition, she is the only Latin American to win the three most recognized international dance awards: Benois de la Danse (considered the Oscar of classical dance). The Soul of Dance in Russia (only few non-Russian dancers have obtained it) and the award of the Dance Open Festival in Saint Petersburg.
Since 2010 she has been an ambassador of culture in Mexico for Conaculta and a member of the Unesco International Dance Committee; President of the committee of the Elisa Carilos Cabrera AC Foundation, artistic director of the Sir Anton Dolin Foundation, co-director of the National Dance Company of Mexico, Master’s Degree in Ballet awarded by the German Ministry of Culture, and by John Cranko Schule Stutgart.
For a decade, this renowned dancer from Texcoco, State of Mexico, has organized the Elisa and friends gala, bringing dancers from different ends of the earth to our country, who are stars of great dance companies around the world. Those close to her recognize that she has outstanding leadership.
find your passion
Elisa speaks five languages (Spanish, English, German, Russian and Italian) and every year she performs Danzatlán, the international dance festival that has the support of the government of the State of Mexico, where she promotes dancers of different nationalities. In addition, she organizes classes and workshops. All for free.
It was her mother who enrolled her in a ballet school that was close to where they lived; “She was a girl who loved movement, music, and doing plays for my parents,” she says. She discovered the world of dance when she was between five and six years old and she became her passion of her life. “I realized that she filled me with joy,” she shares during a breakfast organized by the Mexican Franchise Association.
At the age of nine, she entered the INBA National School of Classical and Contemporary Dance. One day, as part of her classes, she was taken to a performance of the National Dance Company at the Palace of Fine Arts. “When the curtain opened I said: I want to be on that stage and be one of those dancers.”
Discipline and continuous work
When Elisa Carrillo was 14 years old, she was sent to represent her school in a national contest and she won first place. There was an English teacher, who helped him get a scholarship to study in England. “I did not doubt it. A year before I started learning English”.
But the dancer did not really understand what it meant to go live in another country. “I did not see the possibilities of preparing myself abroad. This opportunity just happened and my parents supported me. For which I am immensely grateful.” However, when the Mexican arrived in London, she realized that it was not easy being there alone in a completely new country and leaving her family that she has always been very close to.
Once she finished her studies at The English National Ballet School, Elisa joined the Stuttgart Ballet Company of Germany and was accepted. “I was from the lowest position there is, which is an apprentice until I became a soloist.”
After eight years at the Stuttgart Ballet where, by the way, she met her husband Mikhail Kaniskin, they were both invited to dance at Staatsballett Berlin. “It was a great opportunity for us and we went to Berlin. I was already a soloist, but I had to go down a category because I was going to a bigger company. I worked a lot and in the third year I was named prima ballerina, ”she recalls.
Since 2011 Elisa Carrillo is the prima ballerina of the Staatsballett Berlin. “I have won many awards and recognitions that I never imagined. I had a dream, but it turned out bigger than I thought.”
People sometimes only see the beautiful part of his artistic career, but there is a lot of work behind it, he says. “There are many moments of sadness and insecurity, also because the dancers of the European companies are very white and have other features. That made me set limits. Fortunately, over the years I realized that being different because I came from another country helped me stand out”.
Promote the new generations
Elisa assures that art and culture have transformed her as a human being. For this reason, in 2012 she created the Elisa Carrillo Cabrera Foundation, which promotes and develops dance in the country. In addition, she supports ballet students to train in Mexico or abroad and achieve their dreams.
It is a foundation that has already sent several Mexican children to ballet schools in Switzerland, England, Monaco, Berlin, Canada and the United States. Some with contracts in companies in Europe, a place where the latest in dance is happening.
“The financial resources we get are channeled to everything they need, such as round-trip air travel, health insurance, and food,” he says. In addition, the Elisa Carrillo Cabrera Foundation makes agreements with international ballet schools to receive the most talented Mexicans without paying tuition.
The best advice for life and business
Elisa’s parents are the ones who support her in everything she does at her foundation. “If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be where I am now,” she says. “They have supported me in everything; in moments of joy and difficulty. They have given me security and when I have fallen they help me get up saying: Don’t worry. Here we are. I love them”.
But in addition to all the support, Elisa says that something essential to achieve what one sets out to do is discipline, which has to be part of your life, including business. For example, Elisa comments that her official hours at the ballet company are Monday through Saturday from 10 in the morning to 6 in the afternoon; but an hour before (at nine), she has extra classes in physical conditioning and pilates.
These eight hours a day are part of his usual routine. “Do not stop training, even for a short time. You have to stay consistent,” advises the successful world-class dancer.