José Manuel Carreño, Don Quixote, May 20, 2011
José Manuel Carreño was born in Cuba and started ballet at age eight, studying with Alicia Alonso. After training at the Provincial and National Ballet Schools in Cuba, he joined the National Ballet of Cuba. He won several prestigious ballet competitions including the Gold Medal in the New York International Ballet Competition (1987) and the Grand Prize at the USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi, (1990). He accepted an invitation from Ivan Nagy (a former ABT Principal Dancer) to join English National Ballet as Principal Dancer. He became a Principal Dancer with The Royal Ballet in 1993.
Carreño joined ABT in 1995 as a Principal Dancer. He has danced in galas and with companies such as Bolshoi Ballet, Kirov Ballet, Royal Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, Tokyo Ballet, Berlin Staatsoper Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, Teatro Colón (Argentina), Teatro Municipal de Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), and Ballet de Monterrey (Mexico).
I enjoyed watching Jose since his ABT debut in Don Quixote in 1995 until his retirement in 2011. I remember his great technique, placement, and great turning ability that allowed him to do 5-6 slow, controlled pirouettes that went on forever. He was a dramatic and attentive partner, dancing with noted ballerinas of the day including Alessandra Ferri, Viviana Durante, Paloma Hererra, Nina Ananiashvili, Susan Jaffe, Diana Vishneva, and Svetlana Zakharova. He was part of a great group of male dancers at ABT including Julio Bocca, Angel Corella, Herman Cornejo, Marcelo Gomes, Ethan Stiefel. Sadly, Julio retired in 2006 followed by Jose in 2011 and Angel and Ethan in 2012.
My favorite YouTube clips of José:
In the first, he dances the Diana and Acteon pas de deux in a Tarzan-type loin cloth. His solo starts at 4:28. My favorite parts are 4:41 with a funky barrel turn 540 trick and 4:55 in which he does five spectacular controlled turns in attitude.
The second clip is the Le Coursaire pas de deux with Tamara Rojo of The Royal Ballet. Her turn section starts at 8:20 in which she whips off triple fouettes and his starts at 8:50. His turn section features turns in attitude followed by controlled turns in passé.
ABTAmericanBalletTheatrephotosKent Beckernot my day job photography Jose Manuel CarrenoDon QuixoteAmerican Ballet Theatre