Maestro Anderson Santana of Brussels International Ballet School. Interview

Anna Pavlova Network is lucky and honoured to collaborate with the best of the best  in the field of ballet education and choreography. Today we publish our conversation with Maestro Anderson Santana, the Artistic Director of Brussels International Ballet School, a very fast growing professional structure for talented young dancers in Europe.

Driven by his enthusiasm, his energy and passion for dance, Anderson Santana created in 2005 his own Ballet School in Brussels, Belgium. He worked very hard to motivate and give the necessary enthusiasm to the young dancers that integrate the Ballet School to reach a high level, and demonstrate the artistic talent that Belgium has.

Since the ballet school has evolved from School to a professional Ballet School, many students have won prices and distinction at several competitions (Chausson d’Or, Paris, YAGP, Monaco, Ballettschule Hamburg, Moscow, Varna, Helsinki and VKIBC), scholarships to international Summer Intensives and some of them have integrated prestigious ballet schools and international renowned companies. In the Ballet World, the Brussels International Ballet school (BIBS) is recognised for its professionalism and successful achievements.

Anderson Santana-min

 – Mr. Santana, the start of your career as a dancer was connected with such brilliant names as Vladimir Semionov, Maurice Béjart… Who influenced you the most and affected your growth as a dancer and choreographer?
– Both actually have influenced me a lot. Vladimir Semionov for the pureness of Classical Ballet and perfection of movement, Maurice Béjart for the neoclassical movement and choreographies. Both had a tremendous personality and were incredible artists.

The name of your school contains the word “international”. Does it mean first of all that your students are from different countries or is it about your method and your teachers?
– It is a first a very international school with students from countries all over the world. This year for example we have students coming from Belgium, France, Japan, Canada, Australia, Greece, Romania, Turkey, Spain, UK, USA and I am myself from Brazil! I think dancers during their life-time as dancer travel a lot, the word “international” has always been an important aspect of the school.

Your students are very successful at international dance competitions. How do you prepare them? Is there a psychological secret that they must know to be prepared well?
– I prepare them intensively and encourage them strongly along the process of getting ready. I push them to become stronger psychologically and physically, trying to obtain the best out of them. I also try to develop them individually because each student has a different character and is unique. They have of course to be open and smart in order to integrate and apply all corrections.

When you see a real “natural” talent among your students, do you say it for encouragement or do you avoid it and consider as “spoiling”?
– I am always careful when I see a real natural talent not to encourage her/him too much by only praising her/his talent because natural talent does not mean you can make it to the top only with your talent and abilities but when you combine both and work hard, it can be very enjoyable. If a natural talented student is not dedicated enough, he will not necessarily succeed. Therefore I can only see the progress of the student through his/her motivation and determination.

You choreographed more than 30 ballets and variations, which is your favourite and which was the hardest to work on?
– I mostly choreographed different solos and variation for dancers but my favourite ballet is “Les Méduses”, a very demanding choreography, technically and artistically very difficult.

Please, tell us about your Summer Program and why would you recommend it to young dancers?
– I am convinced that it is essential, for the artistic development of a young dancer, to have the chance to discover the widest possible range of teaching methods and choreographic styles. To make that possible, I implemented a partnership with a dorm located next to the school, to allow international students to find the necessary infrastructure for their stay and have their accommodation half or full pension. The school is now preparing this year its 4th International Summer Program from Monday 31 July till Friday 11 August 2017.
In 3 big studios, the participants take part to a professional and intensive training program with prestigious international dancers, teachers and choreographers from very famous institutions such as Kremlin Ballet, Basel, Zurich, Cullberg Ballet, Nederlands Dance Theater, offering them the unique experience to share knowledge, inspiration and passion with a great artistic team. Students will follow classical ballet, pointes or male technique, classical Repertoire, pas de deux, barre à terre, pilates, contemporary workshop with Repertoire from Jiří Kylián and Mats Ek. Students have also the possibility to audition for the Professional Training Program 2017-2018 at the end of the intensive two weeks course. The groups are: Intermediate and Advanced, providing students the opportunity to improve their skills and gain strength, Pre-professional and Professional, designed to give them a deeper understanding of classical Ballet and Contemporary as an Art form, exploring the demands of a professional career. At the end of the Summer Program, and to close the two weeks of intensive training, we organize a demonstration with all students and teachers presenting classical and modern choreographies.

What is your impression of collaborating with Youth America Grand Prix as their coordinator?

– It was a big success with more than 500 participants. YAGP is a well renowned International Ballet competition and has a big structure. It was for me a great challenge to coordinate that event for the 1st time in Brussels. After that it gave me the opportunity to bring and coordinate another great competition, the semi-finals of VKIBC (Valentina Kozlova International Ballet Competition).

How do you picture the future of Brussels International Ballet School? Is there a special dream that you have as its founder and director?

Brussels International Ballet School is improving. I picture the future of Brussels International Ballet School very positively. The Brussels International Ballet School in its 3 years existence has continuously proven itself as a serious institution for Classical Ballet. Rather then a dream, it is my goal to continue bringing the school to become a very successful dance Institute for young talents and beside that to create a company with the future generation of passionate dancers.

One piece of advice of Maestro Anderson de Santana to young dancers who are choosing a ballet school to continue their professional education.
– Work, work, work with determination, passion and will. You have to work hard because the competition is tough. If you want to be successful, you have to be very strong and versatile dancer.


Special thanks to Maestro Anderson Santana and Madam Isabelle Vandenberghe.

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