Grab a chair and sit with us in this quiet patio in the middle of Barcelona in between two shows of Don Quixote. Haruhi Otani is not one to say no to a challenge, she embraces them and thrive to improve every day a little more. Haruhi has a very unique background, she did not attend any of the world renown ballet schools. This interview captures her personality: witty, smart and determined. A truly inspiring figure for all dancers in the world.
Profile photography by David Martín Rodero (Instagram @davidmartinroderophoto) who kindly accepted to let us use this wonderful shot of Haruhi to illustrate her interview.
From Japan to Spain
“They said: yeah, there is a possibility!”
Haruhi Otani is not one to say to a challenge. Born and raised in Japan, Haruhi Otani’s journey to the Compañía Nacional de Danza was not an easy and linear one. Transitioning from being a student to becoming a professional dancer, moving out of her home country without speaking any other language than Japanese and accepting challenges with a big smile are the main topics of this episode.
A typical day in my life
“I can really concentrate”
The usual daily schedule of ballet dancers can vary quite a lot, depending on the companies and the dancers themselves. Haruhi specifically mentions one thing that she loves about her daily life and how it helps her to stay focused. Can you guess what it is?
Views on ballet competitions
“If you are a student you don’t have so many shows”
Ballet competitions : what are their pros and cons? Haruhi’s point of view is truly insightful and inspiring. We learned so much for her own personal experience. What is their place in the life of a dancer in training? And as a professional dancer? How do they supplement the training of pre-professional dancers? What is the best approach to learn from this experience and grow as a dancer?
Managing the unexpected
“I cannot give up”
Memories from Varna IBC 2018
“3:45am I have rehearsal, really nice!”
“To me, Kitri is still a bit like this”
If technique is the tool to help your body move freely, creating a persona to your character is what makes your role unique on stage. Haruhi does reflect on her character quite a lot before dancing on stage, whether it is for a full length ballet or for a competition or gala. What does she specifically think of Kitri? When Haruhi Otani describes her version of Kitri, you instantly want to be friend with her. She is for sure a very young and vivid girl, but there is something more to this character which makes Haruhi’s interpretation magnificent.
Prepare for stage time
“If I lose my control, it looks really messy”
Performing on stage is, in the end, the core of any performer’s work. Preparing for stage time is a very personal experience, we can learn from others but ultimately it depends on your personality and experience. Some dancers tend to have strict rituals in order to feel on top of the game, while others prefer to remain flexible. Though, there is one thing that Haruhi does right before the curtain goes up. Is that the secret to her breathtaking performances?
Dream role and dream partner
“But you know, you need to talk. You need to communicate”
If you’re still not convinced that Haruhi Otani is a very smart woman, wait until you’ve heard her answer to this usual question. This is one of the toughest questions for a dancer since it can be quite hard to pick among so many choices. While the dream role was rather easy to think of for Haruhi, she has an interesting consideration on the dream partner. The answer Haruhi gives reveals, to a great extent, her personality. She got me by surprise, I have to admit.
Dancing the Premiere
“I wish I could be Spanish!”
Haruhi danced the role of Kitri in the premiere of Don Quixote in Barcelona when this interview was filmed, so we took the occasion to ask her how the experience felt. Dancing a Premiere is something: you carry the image of the company on your shoulders. There is something Haruhi did that made the whole performance special and enjoyable. What is it?
Advice to younger dancers
“And for that, I worked!”
For all the young aspiring dancers, keep in mind that the professionals you idolize were at the same place you currently are. It’s always a delight to hear dancers share their advice to younger dancers and it’s getting hard to pick which is Core de Ballet team’s favorite. Haruhi’s piece of advice is precious and it will make the difference.
Oh, wait! There is a bonus, two great recommendations in just one video! Will you hold tight onto these words?