- March 29, 2023
Macarena Giménez and Maximiliano Iglesias are just like any young couple who are busy raising a daughter, learning a new language and adapting to living in a new country for the first time.
Except they're also the Sarasota Ballet's newest dancers.
Giménez and Iglesias are embarking on a new life adventure after long careers with the Buenos Aires-based Teatro Colón ballet company, and they say they’ve barely had time to breathe let alone go to the beach.
But so far, Sarasota Ballet's newest dancers say they have everything they need.
“We have the three of us. We’re so close now,” says Iglesias. “We’re learning to live here together without our family and without our friends.”
“We’ll make new friends,” adds Giménez cheerily from the seat next to him.
The couple are preparing for the Sarasota Ballet’s season-opening program, Premieres, which will run from Oct. 21 to 23 at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts.
Giménez and Iglesias moved with their daughter Emma to the U.S. this summer and joined the company for its engagement at the Joyce Theater in Manhattan in August. A few weeks later, after they had returned to Sarasota, they chatted a bit with the Observer.
Neither Giménez nor Iglesias have ever lived in another country before. They’ve learned a little bit of English from ballet instructors and dancers they’ve worked with in the past, but they’re fully immersing themselves in the language for the first time.
At home, says Iglesias, they keep the TV show “Friends” playing in the background on a loop.
“We’ve been here two months,” says Iglesias. “But it’s felt like a year because we’ve done so many things. Emma is already in school. I’ve started to drive; I didn’t drive in Argentina.
"It was easier to learn here because in Argentina we don’t have automatic. It’s manual drive.”
A year ago, they probably never could’ve imagined leaping out of their comfort zone.
Both Giménez and Iglesias started at the Teatro Colón’s Instituto Superior de Arte as youngsters and became principal dancers at the 120-member Teatro Colón company as teenagers.
Then they spent a decade there, dancing together and learning from world renowned instructors. They formed a relationship, starting at age 18, dancing together and realizing their personal and professional ambitions. Then suddenly, last December, they found themselves in London taking classes with the Royal Ballet, and fate decided to throw them a detour.
“At that time,” says Iglesias, We were not looking for a job in America.”
“We didn’t have a visa,” adds Giménez. “It seemed impossible. But nothing is impossible.”
The ballet world is small, and one of their friends, a London-based dancer, had worked with Sarasota Ballet’s Iain Webb and Margaret Barbieri.
Soon they were making their introductions, and the timing was perfect for everyone.
Iglesias and Giménez had spent a dancer’s lifetime with one company, and it had molded them as professionals. And Sarasota just seemed like the right place at the right time.
“Teatro Colón was my first job. My only job,” says Iglesias. “This is my second job. We spent so much time with Teatro Colón, so it was hard to leave. But we felt it was time to prove ourselves in another place with another company, with new people and experiences.”
“Teatro Colon gave us so many opportunities,” adds Giménez. “It was everything to us. It’s a good moment to do new ballets, learn new steps and dance with new partners too.”
That’s what they’ll be doing in Premieres; not just dancing with each other, but also dancing to choreography that has never been danced to before.
They say that’s a new thing for them; they’re more accustomed to dancing full-length ballets of established choreography.
The three acts of the Premieres program are choreographed by Gemma Bond, Sarasota Ballet’s principal dancer Ricardo Graziano and junior principal Richard House.
Giménez danced with Graziano in New York, and she said he’s been really kind to them in their transition.
“He speaks a little Spanish, which is great,” she says. “He’s great with Emma.”
Giménez and Iglesias are dancing together in Graziano’s piece, which is appropriate because their entire life is a dance. They’re waking up early to get Emma to school and to exercise before their first class with the Sarasota Ballet, and they’ll work all the way to 5 p.m.
Then they’ll go to pick up Emma, to do homework, bedtime and laundry.
And then they go to sleep and do it all over again.
“I always say the same thing when people ask what it’s like dancing with your partner,” says Iglesias. “It’s great. We work the six hours in the studio. And maybe we can talk about it at dinner.
"‘Hey, what do you think of this part of the ballet?’ It’s a 24-hour rehearsal.”
It’s hard. But that’s why they love it.
They pour so much of themselves into their craft that sometimes they get as wrapped up in the performance as the audience does. Sometimes, in fact, Giménez, sees Iglesias dancing with another partner and it feels too real.
"When we danced Romeo and Juliet, we didn’t dance together and it was hard to see him kissing with another girl," she says. "It wasn’t bad, but it was weird. It was like, ‘Max, what are you doing?’"
Giménez began her dance career at age three, and she says it’s been her whole life. She danced a Makarova program when she was seven weeks pregnant with Emma, and she was taking classes all the way to 37 weeks.
There’s just no time for a ballet dancer to take off. The discipline takes over what they eat and when they sleep, and it requires both diligence and also a bit of an obsessive nature.
“We need the routines,” says Giménez. “Because without that, it’s impossible.”
Both Iglesias and Giménez say they don’t think they’d steer their daughter to ballet. The lifestyle is just so difficult, and they’d be afraid she’d lose having a normal life.
For now, Emma is just a Sarasota kindergarten student with two parents who dance nearby.
And Iglesias and Giménez are busy building a new world of opportunity for her, all the while learning a new language and choreography that has never been shown to anyone.
They’re excited about their new home. And they’re hoping to be here a long time.
“The dancers, Iain and Maggie, the ballet masters, the people in the office, they’ve been amazing,” says Giménez. “We’re so comfortable and happy. And Emma too. That’s the most important. We’re so happy to be here and so excited about the season. And the next season. And the next season. We feel at home and that’s amazing for us.”