Lucas Lima on his experience at The Norwegian National Ballet
Lucas Lima, originally from Brazil, graduated from the School in 2009. In the autumn of 2021, we were delighted to hear that he had been promoted to Principal at The Norwegian National Ballet, where he has been dancing since he graduated from the School. We were thrilled that he was able to take the time to discuss his experience with us and answer a few of our questions.
How did it feel being promoted to Principal at The Norwegian National Ballet?
My promotion happened on stage so it was a very overwhelming and emotional moment. It really was an unforgettable night for me. I feel so grateful to my director Ingrid Lorentzen for trusting and believing in me as an artist all these years. This promotion really is a recognition of my 12 years of work here at The Norwegian National Ballet.
What has your experience been like so far at The Norwegian National Ballet?
I’ve really grown at The Norwegian National Ballet as a dancer, choreographer and artist. There are so many people here who have shaped my life. I’ve had the pleasure of working and sharing the stage with some beautiful partners and I’m constantly inspired by my friends and colleagues. I’ve also had some incredible teachers who have mentored me throughout my time here.
How did you find the initial transition from School to company life? Do you have any advice for graduates about entering the professional world?
The transition from the School to a professional company can be scary because in reality, it is a different world you are diving into. But after graduating, I felt so prepared to show everything I had learnt over the years and was ready to evolve as an artist. My advice for graduates entering the professional world is to take responsibility for themselves and the work they do in the company.
What do you think are some of the valuable things that you took from your time at The Royal Ballet School?
Being at The Royal Ballet School was a learning experience every single day. Aside from learning different skills and techniques from our teachers and mentors, we also learnt from each other. All of us came from different backgrounds, cultures and training levels and we were put together in a classroom where we had the opportunity to inspire each other. In Brazil, we perform a lot from a very young age and so being with students from White Lodge was a very interesting experience as I had to focus on pure ballet technique. I had the chance to learn such beautiful, honest and clean English technique which I still use today as a dancer and I also teach it to my students.
Can you share any memories that stand out from your time at the School?
The best memories I have are definitely all the performances of The Royal Ballet I got to watch during my time at the School. I would get the standing tickets or I would watch it from the wings backstage and I did that almost every night for 3 years. I believe that one year I watched 23 out of 25 performances of Sleeping Beauty – that is how much I loved it! As a young dancer from Brazil, having a place at The Royal Ballet School was an incredible and unique opportunity so I wanted to absorb and experience everything I could. Watching The Royal Ballet was extremely inspiring and I will never forget it. It was a privilege and I will treasure those performances forever.
What are some of the highlights of your career?
I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to dance so many beautiful roles such as Romeo (Romeo & Juliet), Lensky (Onegin), Albrecht (Giselle) and Vronsky (Anna Karenina). I’m also very lucky to have danced works by amazing choreographers including George Balanchine, Mats Ek, Jiri Kylian, Nacho Duato, and William Forsythe.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a dancer?
My biggest challenges have definitely been my shoulder injuries. I have had three shoulder surgeries and one serious shoulder nerve injury. It’s extremely hard to go through that when you are trying to prove yourself and grow as a dancer in a ballet company. I couldn’t have done it without the physiotherapists and health professionals who were with me at my worst. They were always pushing me which helped to bring me back to the stage. It wasn’t an easy journey but it definitely helped me to grow into who I am today as an artist and a human being.
What has your experience as a choreographer been like? Can you tell us more about some of the works you’ve created?
I started choreographing at The Royal Ballet School in 2007 for the Ursula Moreton Emerging Choreographer performance. In my first year at Upper School I won 3rd prize and the following year I won 2nd prize. I also won the Lynn Seymour Award for Expressive Dance for a solo that I choreographed. I felt very fortunate to win such a special and iconic award! After I joined The Norwegian National Ballet I focused only on dancing. It was when I had my shoulder injuries that I got back into choreographing as it was a way for me to keep creating and expressing my passion for dance.
I have choreographed for the junior and main companies in Norway and have created two full-length ballets for the ballet school here – Cinderella and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I have also created short ballets for the Balé da Cidade de SP and São Paulo Dance Company in Brazil. As well as this, I have choreographed works for principal dancers in various companies to perform in galas.
I am also the teacher for the boys in the ballet school at the Opera House which has been an incredible experience. I love being able to share my knowledge and passion to the young generation of extremely talented young dancers.
What is the best piece of advice you would give to aspiring dancers today?
Stay true and honest to yourself as a dancer. Keep learning and evolving as an artist. Respect and take care of your body and never give up when you face an injury. And most importantly, always, always stay humble and kind!