Discipline, sacrifice and passion: this is how a day goes by at the Professional Dance Conservatory of Zaragoza

The choreographer Agnès de Mille said that to dance is to be outside yourself and that when you do it you become bigger, stronger and more powerful. And this excessive force speaks of passion and sensitivity at the Municipal Professional Dance Conservatory of Zaragoza, where some 180 students have been carried away by one of the most disciplined and beautiful performing arts. On the site of the former Palafox barracks, the dance conservatory is the only center in Aragon to offer professional training in this field, both in the specialty of classical and contemporary dance.

Sacrifice, discipline and perseverance begin to emerge when little 8-year-old artists set foot on the conservatory floor for the first time. Music, classical dance, Spanish dance or physical preparation are some of the subjects taught during the four years of elementary education. Subsequently, most begin the six years of professional training, both in the discipline of classical dance and in contemporary dance. They also learn body language, make-up, interpretation or the history of dance. A “complete and complete” training that requires dedication and effort that is reflected in every drop of sweat and in every injury that the dancers have on their feet.

Photo: Laura Trives

“Dancing can be compared to any other type of elite sport and requires total dedication. Many young people combine it with their studies either at the institute or at the university. Society and also the administrations should recognize the effort made by the dancers and also by the families,” says Silvia Gonzalvo, director of the Municipal Professional Dance Conservatory of Zaragoza.

When the piano music begins to play, in the classrooms of the conservatory, young people begin to glide and move as if they were one, turning their bodies and with a pose so elegant and upright that you can’t help being drunk. The reality is that these classes are filled with children from 8 to 20 years old, with different tastes, attitudes and charisma, but with one thing in common: an overwhelming majority are women.

“We will have 92% female students and 8% male students. Unfortunately, dancing is still considered for girls and this is reflected in the classrooms. It’s a shame because there are in many countries where more men than women practice it and consider it as if it were football,” Gonzalvo laments. However, this small percentage of men increases their opportunities when they step out into a “very complicated” world of work and begin to discover that their dream is harder than it seemed.

“They have a much easier time because it’s not the same as 70 dancers showing up to audition for a company and having an opportunity than the 5,000 dancers who might show up. Professional opportunities in dance are complicated, at the conservatory we offer a complete training and this can lead them to devote themselves to the theater or to other completely different fields, but it is very likely that if they want to make a living from dance they will have to pack their bags and go out,” admits Gonzalvo.

Photo: Laura Trives

And it is that one of these difficulties in the world of dance is the “lack of recognition and support” of the companies and centers that are dedicated to teaching them. “The current director of the National Dance Company, Joaquín de Luz, says that the whole budget he has is the same as that of the New York Ballet only in points. The reality of dance in Spain is a problem and that it has great companies and both nationally and regionally it has been a career of great dancers and professionals, “explains the director of the center.

And part of those great dancers who were former students of the center are those who now form the Lamov Dance Company or the Aragonese Dance Company Miguel Ángel Berna. Companies that, like the Classical Ballet of Zaragoza in its time, encourage young dancers to bet on their dreams of dancing great pieces on great stages.

The Municipal Professional Dance Conservatory was founded in 1983 under the direction of Cristina Miñana. There was no place like it in Aragon and it soon began to be forged as one always forges great things: with as much magic as illusion and work. Today it is the only professional center in Aragon and every year it welcomes more and more young people who want to train in this field.

About six hours a day between bends and rehearsals, harmonies, stretching and gestures. Speak through the body and bring out the beauty of oneself through delicate and sensitive movements. The students of the Municipal Professional Conservatory are no longer without dance and dance, after all, would have no meaning without someone who feels it.

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