Adeline Pastor was born in France in 1982. She studied Ballet at the private school of Claudette Douillon and won more than 15 competitions in 5 years. In 1998, she became a member of the National Ballet of Cuba under the direction of Alicia Alonso. She then danced with several other companies including the Ballet de Victor Ullate in Spain and the State Theatre in Wiesbaden, where she was a Soloist. She joined the Aalto Ballett Theater Essen as a Principal Dancer in 2008.
In our conversation with Adeline, we talk about her love for ballet, the training she received and her best tips on preparing for roles and choosing a company to dance with.
Adeline Pastor in Don Quixotte. Photo: Mario Perricone
So tell us Adeline, how did it all start for you? What is your earliest memory related to dance?
My family was not in the ballet world. I did other sports like tennis and swimming at first. I liked it but I didn't love it. I started to love Ballet at the age of 8 years old when my mother put me at the private ballet school of Claudette Douillon in Nice, France. I was going there once a week and after 2 months I already wanted to take more classes, up to 4 times a week!
You said you started to love ballet at 8 years old. Did you already know by then that it was something special you wanted to do for the many years to come?
When I started, I didn’t think immediately that I wanted to be a professional ballet dancer. I just knew that I loved dancing. That’s when I was about 12 years old that the thought to continue this path professionally became bigger.
What is in particular that you love about ballet?
I would say this is something with dance in general: it is a way of expressing myself. What I love in Ballet, it's not only the technical side of it but the artistic parts of it. I get to interpret a different role every night. With dance, we can tell a story that the entire world can understand.
Adeline Pastor in Carmen/Bolero. Photo: Mario Perricone
You mentioned studying with Claudette Douillon. How was it?
Claudette gave me the love of dance, the discipline and rigor. She has always believed in me and me in her. Her basic education has been the best I could get.
What is the best piece of advice she gave you?
I will say that all her words were advices. You know, she never said to me "very good". She would say "it's better, it’s coming" and I think this was to push me more, to get better. But she was always reporting back to my parents to compliment me.
Choreographer Pedro Consuegra sent you to the National Ballet School of Alicia Alonso. This was such a big move and a great opportunity for you. Tell us about it.
Pedro noticed me in a competition in Grasse, France, where he was in the jury. I was 12 years old. He took me under his wings and started to teach to me. I could say so many amazing things about him but I would say that Pedro was most definitely a key factor in my career. Everything started at this point. At 14 years old, he decided to send me to the National Ballet school of Alicia Alonso in Cuba.
Did you speak the language when your first arrived? If not, how did you communicate with the other dancers?
I was not speaking Spanish when I arrived to Cuba but the students and I communicated in sign language. And after only 3 weeks, I spoke Spanish fluently. Everybody was great!!
Can you tell us more about what you learned in Cuba specifically? I suppose the training was slightly different than the one you received in France.
I learned their technique which helped me improve my pirouettes, my jumps, Pas de deux... and the desire to succeed. I had my bases from the French school but to have also the Cuban school with me is great!!!
You have won so many prizes and competitions. What prize do you cherish the most?
That is a difficult question because I am proud and love all of them but to name a few: In 1997, I received the “Technical and Artistical Revelation Price“ in the International Ballet Competition in Cuba. In 1998, I won the SILVER MEDAL at the renowned international competition of Varna (Bulgaria), 1st price and Grand Prix in the International Ballet competition of La Havane (Cuba) and I obtained the Diploma of the end of study, with Special distinction: 1st of the class and congratulations of the good work. In August 2010, I received during the Labat Danza Festival in the Italian Loano the "Grand Prix of the Talent of Guiliana Penzie".
Wow. That’s a lot of them. Do you get nervous before competitions or going on stage?
Personally, I love the stage!!! I have the best feeling when I am on stage. Stage is for me like a home. I’ve always loved performing in front of thousands of people.
Do you have any advice on how to keep calm and dance on?
Have confidence but never do too much of what you can do.
Adeline Pastor in Undine. Photo: Mario Perricone
You have already danced several roles in your career, which one was your favourite?
My favourite’s ballet is Don Quixote because of that playful Spanish character that fit me well... I always enjoy very much when I perform the role of Kitri.
What about the most challenging role?
The most challenging role for me has to be the role of Edith Piaf from "La vie en Rose", a Ballet from B. Van Cauwenbergh. I had to alternate singing and dancing and Piaf’s songs are difficult.
Can you tell us about how you prepared for this role or any other role for that matter?
I always research on the internet or buy a book on how to interpret the role. Also, I always try not to copy anybody because the best that I can do is being myself and no one else.
That’s a very good advice. There is a quote saying “Be yourself, everyone else is taken”. At the moment, you’re dancing with the Aalto Ballet Theater? Is it a good fit for you?
I get to dance many roles. I can do my galas around the world because my director let me go easily. My private life is great!! I'm not in the largest and most prestigious ballet company but I'm happy and I don't need anything else.
You have danced in several other companies, what do you think matters the most when considering which one to dance with?
You have to choose a ballet company for you and not just because of its reputation and size. And especially since unfortunately in these companies, there are not enough places for everyone.
Adeline Pastor in Coppelia. Photo: Mario Perricone
Any word of advice for our readers?
When I was 11 years old, I had already won more than 20 gold medals and a person well known of the world of ballet told me "because of your body, you should forget ballet and you should focus on the contemporary". I said to him "Thank you for your advice". If I had listened to him, I would not be what I am today. As my mother says I have strength of character. My advice is to listen to the right people, like your teacher who want your best, work on yourself, never give up and focus on the quality, not the quantity.
I would like and will always thank the wonderful people who have helped me on my journey as a dancer. Without them, I will not be the dancer that I am today.
Thank you very much Adeline for such an inspirational interview!
Adeline's Facebook fan page
Aalto Ballett Theater Essen