Angel Corella is a celebrity back home in Spain.
He’s a judge on Spain’s ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ he starred alongside Gwenyth Paltrow in a champagne commercial, and now he can add ‘teaching dance in Hartford’ to his impressive repertoire.
Corella has been performing professionally since age 14, but his love for dance began even before he could talk.
“My mom says I had a pacifier in my mouth and I used to dance like John Travolta because he was very fashionable at the time” said Corella. “‘Saturday Night Fever,’ I think, was at that time…so I think I was always a dancer. It was a way for me to express how I felt.”
After nearly 20 years with the American Ballet Theater, Corella retired, moving out of the spotlight and into the classroom. Or, in this case, the studio.
He’s teaching this summer at the University of Hartford’s Hartt School, preparing dancers for a performance of ‘Don Quixote.’
“Hartford, the university school, has a very good reputation around the world for being a very good school. And I wanted to see it for myself,” said Corella. “And when I got here, I was not only pleasantly surprised, I was blown away.”
The dancers practice for eight-and-a-half hours a day, six days a week for four weeks, all to get ready for their big performance this Saturday. But it’s worth every second to the students, doing what they love and learning from an idol.
“I freaked out because…he was actually the first male dancer I watched on YouTube, ever, when him and Paloma Herrera were doing ‘Don Quixote,'” said dancer Gabrielle Collins. “So it’s kind of ironic that we’re doing ‘Don Quixote,’ but he was always my favorite male dancer.
“Comparing it to music, it would be kind of like taking a music lesson from…Lady Gaga, Pink,” said dancer Andrew Litchfield. “They would just come and you’d get to learn from them everyday.”
After just a few short weeks, the dancers are really noticing a difference.
“Since he was such an amazing dancer, he really gives you like, the real deal sort of,” said Collins. “He doesn’t just say ‘Oh, this is technically correct’…He shows you how to do, how to turn to your maximum….how you really are supposed to do things. Not just like, what the books tell you.”
“Some things I’ve noticed a change right away,” said Litchfield. “Some things you stop and look back and you’re like, ‘Oh, wow, I really have improved.’ Because, kind of like growing, you don’t really notice that you’ve gotten taller until you look back.”
The dancers are performing ‘Don Quixote’ this Saturday, July 26th, in the Millard Auditorium on the University of Hartford campus. Ticket information is available here: http://harttweb.hartford.edu/events/calendar.aspx?trumbaembed=eventid%3d125462668%26view%3devent%26-childview%3d