Hernan Justo talks 20 years at Carolina Ballet Theatre and his love of ballet

Hernan Justo has served as Carolina Ballet Theatre’s Artistic Director since 2000. He is involved in all aspects of the company; from teaching classes, coaching, teaching afterschool dance and outreach classes to creating original works.

© Nathan Gray/Staff, TALK Greenville Hernan Justo is the artistic director of the Carolina Ballet Theatre.

He began dancing in 1974 at the Instituto Superior de Arte Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He joined the ballet Estable del Teatro Colón in 1982 and was then invited to perform with the Ballet del Teatro Argentino de la Plata two years later. In 1988, his career took him to the Ballet de Santiago, Chile, where he performed ballets by John Cranko, Ben Stevenson, Ronald Hynd and Andree Prokovski among others.

After three years, Hernan joined the Ballet Clásico de Cámara in Caracas, Venezuela, under the direction of Nina Novak, formerly prima ballerina of Les Ballet Russe de Montecarlo. In 1992, Justo participated in the XV International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria, one of the most prestigious and rigorous competitions in professional ballet, in which he and his partner won the “Best Couple” award. Justo was later featured in two gala performances, dancing Black Swan Pas de Deux. He has also won the distinction of “Best Classical Interpretation” at the Prix Volinine in Paris, France, in 1993.

Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.

Justo became a principal dancer with the North Carolina Dance Theatre (today called Charlotte Ballet) in 1994 under the artistic direction of the late Salvatore Aiello, with whom Hernan performed many of his ballets such as Clowns and Other, The Nutcracker, Coppelia, Turn of the Screw and Rite of Spring. Later, under the artistic direction of the renowned Jean Pierre Bonnefoux, Patricia McBride and Jerri Kumery, all artists affiliated with New York City ballet, Hernan added to his repertoire several Balanchine masterpieces for which he was critically acclaimed by Dance Magazine and The New York Times.

Meticulous goals, no promise of glory: How ballet changed four lives in the Upstate

In 2000, he was invited to become Artistic Director of Carolina Ballet Theatre by its founder Barbara Selvy. For CBT Hernan has created over 70 choreographic pieces which several are full-length ballets. Like Arabian Nights, Jungle Book, Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Nutcracker, Jolly Roger among others and contemporary works like Arriving in Indigo City, Tangofusion, A Tango for Angelina, Ghosts, Pulling the Strings, and Preludes for a Farewell. Hernan is married to Anita Pacylowski and they raised three children; Martin (30), Sofia (20), Nicolas (17).

© Clifford Pate Anita Pacylowski-Justo, Hernan Justo at the Carolina Ballet Theatre’s 50th Anniversary event.

Talk Greenville: How did you get into dancing in the beginning?

Hernan Justo: In 4th grade, I started to get in trouble in school. My mom got me into some extracurricular activities. I tried sports, drama, visual arts, but nothing worked. Until one day, we went to the movies to watch “Singing in the Rain” with Gene Kelly, and I loved the dance numbers. I danced all the way home and all my problems at schools disappeared

TG: What is one thing you wish everyone knew about being a professional dancer?

HJ: Every profession requires certain qualities to do it. To be a dancer, you can’t be selfish. It requires a great deal of generosity. We must and will perform under any circumstance. We give everything for our audience, we give everything for this career, and we ask very little in return. We just want to dance. Our mission is to entertain our community.

TG: What is the hardest part about dancing?

HJ: Training your body for very sophisticated movements. This is not running with a ball in your hands. This is turning, jumping, and beating your legs in a fraction of second, traveling though space and then doing it again but backwards. Everything needs to follow the beat of the music while simultaneously playing a character that may be the opposite of who you really are. We must conceal the effort and occasional pains that we physically experience on stage at that precise moment.

TG: What is one thing that you feel is most important when teaching ballet?

HJ: Being another link in this beautiful tradition. Ballet is passed from generation to generation, and it is an honor have time in this constantly evolving tradition to do my part to keep ballet alive. From the classical repertoire to my own choreography. Also, to be a part of the evolution of the method of dance. Everything I learned from others plus what I experimented with myself is passed to the new generations and they will also add their own experience. It is a fantastic honor to be a part of it.

TG: What is the biggest difference between teaching others and dancing yourself?

HJ: Teaching is a second opportunity for you. In my case, I particularly love when one of my dancers performs a role that I did in my years as a dancer and theirs is better. It’s the feeling that I have another opportunity to dance that role in new way. After 30 years of dancing, I was able to do what I always wanted to do, which is directing and teaching and producing shows.

TG: Your wife, Anita Pacylowski, is also a professional dancer. How did you meet?

HJ: We were both hired at Charlotte Ballet (formerly North Carolina Dance Theatre) as principal dancers in 1994. After a year working together, we started dating. In 1998 I proposed on stage in front of 2000 people and we were married in 2000 and now have 3 children.

TG: How would your children describe you?

HJ: Martin, who is 30, would probably describe me as workaholic. My daughter, Sofia, 20, would describe me as the guy that has all the answers. My youngest, Nicolas, 17, would describe me as a soccer fan who knows very little about soccer.

TG: This year is the 50th anniversary of CBT. How have things changed since the beginning?

HJ: We do things with more efficiency. We accomplish things faster, better, and with less effort. After being the artistic director for 20 years, I look back and remember how hard we worked. Also, technology has changed so many aspects of this business.

TG: What has stayed the same?

HJ: In the world of ballet, we always say ballet is the ugly sister of the arts. We are the ones who get pushed aside. Ballet is very hard to produce. It requires costumes, special floors, lights, scenery, and a considerable amount of people on the stage. Ballet is also expensive and is a hard sell, but ballet is just as beautiful and needs to be funded just as much. We only find out how useful it is the day we don’t have it anymore and it is too late.

TG: What do you feel is the greatest accomplishment of CBT?

HJ: The number of artists that come out of this company today dancing internationally or teaching or choreographing. And those who are not in this business any longer always tell me how much ballet helped them accomplish their goals in their new professions. CBT has also brought many international and recognizable artists to Greenville.

TG: What do you do when you’re not dancing or teaching dance?

HJ: Watching soccer on TV or watching my son play soccer for his high school or CESA. I also like to read great artist biographies and watch movies.

TG: Are you a big reader? What’s your favorite type of book?

HJ: Yes, normally I read two books at the same time. One for study, ballet methods or ballet history, and the other one is pleasure. My favorite writers are Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Oscar Wilde. I confess that I read less now because I used to read while taking public transportation. Since living in America, I drive everywhere so I must make time to read.

TG: What’s the best advice you ever got?

HJ: It was a dedication in a book by a dance teacher. He gave it to me on the opening night of his show. It said that the artist chose the path of stones and not the path of flowers and that it was our mission to turn those stones into flowers.

TG: What’s your favorite dessert and where can we get it?

HJ: I love Creme Brulé. There are some places here in Greenville that make it well.

TG: Where would we find you on a Friday night?

HJ: Working with the dancers most likely.

This article originally appeared on Greenville News: Hernan Justo talks 20 years at Carolina Ballet Theatre and his love of ballet

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related


Ronda Rousey Shares Intimate Breastfeeding Photo and Calls Out the Stigma Around Nursing in Public

Ronda Rousey is fighting to normalize breastfeeding. The former UFC champion and body confidence advocate, who welcomed her first child with fellow mixed martial arts fighter husband Travis Browne on ... Read more »

NFL's reasoning for secrecy in WFT investigation does not apply to the 650,000 emails

© Provided by NBC Sports The passage of time often takes the steam out of a story. It shouldn’t, but it does. Already, I find myself wondering whether and to ... Read more »

'Dune' star Timothée Chalamet reveals he and Zendaya would jam out to 'Breaking Free' from 'High School Musical' during their on-set parties

© Provided by INSIDER Zendaya and Timothée star in the upcoming movie titled “Dune.” Marilla Sicilia/Archivio Marilla Sicilia/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images “Dune” costars Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya appeared on ... Read more »

Ant and Dec fans baffled as they swap places during football match

Ant and Dec left their fans completely puzzled when they decided to cheekily swap places during a football match on Sunday 17 October. The hugely-popular Newcastle-born presenters and NTA winners ... Read more »

‘It's like having your house burgled' Lorraine Keane held to ransom by cyber gang

© Provided by Evoke.ie Former TV3 presenter Lorraine Keane has spoken of her terror after a cyber gang hacked her social media channels and demanded a ransom before threatening to ... Read more »

George Alagiah to take break from BBC news role after his cancer spreads

© Jeff Overs/BBC/PA George Alagiah – Jeff Overs/BBC/PA George Alagiah, the BBC newsreader, is to take a break from broadcasting to deal with “a further spread of cancer”, his agent ... Read more »

Shehnaaz Gill indirectly calls Sidharth Shukla her hero during Honsla Rakh promotions

© Provided by Zee News New Delhi: Actress Shehnaaz Gill seems to be coping up with the loss of her close friend and rumoured boyfriend Sidharth Shukla. Shehnaaz, who had ... Read more »

Biogen Stock Drops as ALS Treatment Fails Phase 3 Study

Shares of drugmaker Biogen dropped Monday after the company said that its ALS drug treatment candidate did not meet its primary endpoint in a Phase 3 clinical trial. © TheStreet ... Read more »

New Orleans councilman Jared Brossett, asleep in car, booked on suspicion of DWI... again

New Orleans city councilman Jared Brossett was reportedly found asleep behind the wheel of a white 2021 Lexus with the engine running Monday morning. Police said Brossett, who was roughly ... Read more »

NFL player rejoins team after absence to address depression: ‘You are not alone'

After missing three games, Philadelphia Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson is opening up about his struggle with depression and anxiety. © Provided by TODAY The football player, 31, shared the ... Read more »

Bulgari Is Opening a High-fashion Hotel in Los Angeles — and We Got a Sneak Peek

© Provided by Travel + Leisure Courtesy of Bulgari Bulgari Hotels & Resorts is bringing its high-fashion luxury clout to Los Angeles. In October, the “Jeweler of Hospitality” announced a ... Read more »

2021 season has second-most OT games through six weeks

It seems like a ridiculous number of NFL games have gone into overtime through the first six weeks of the season, doesn’t it? © David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports Dallas ... Read more »

Biden, Progressive Leader Jayapal Meet With Agenda Hanging in Balance

(Bloomberg) — President Joe Biden met with the leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus on Monday as lawmakers returned to Washington for make-or-break negotiations over the president’s infrastructure and social ... Read more »

Dem Rep. David Price to Retire After 30 Years, Will Not Seek Re-Election in North Carolina

U.S. Representative David Price, a North Carolina Democrat, will not seek reelection in 2022, joining several other legislators who have recently announced their retirements, a spokesperson for his office confirmed ... Read more »

Apple unveils next-generation AirPods with shorter stems and 'spatial audio'

© Provided by Business Insider Apple Mac Event 2021 Apple Apple unveiled AirPods 3 on Monday with shorter stems and spatial audio. The next-generation headphones are at $179 and are ... Read more »

Check Out The Ferrari F40 Bandit Edition

© Provided by Motorious Have we not entertained you? We get that in the past we’ve shared some pretty hideous, ill-advised car renderings. Some have complained of chronic ocular pain ... Read more »

The fight between Joe Manchin and Bernie Sanders over the Biden agenda is getting very, very personal

There’s an unwritten rule in the Senate that no senator from your own party should try to mess with you in your state. Which is what makes what Vermont Sen. ... Read more »

Stellantis Pairs With LG to Build EV Battery Plants in the US

After Toyota announced its commitment to build batteries in the U.S. Monday morning, Stellantis has now announced it’s investing in a stateside factory to power all its upcoming electric Jeeps, ... Read more »

NHL Power Rankings: Early season reactions (and overreactions)

In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings we take a look at some early season reactions (and overreactions, if the case may be) to the first week of ... Read more »

Pick Up The Just Launched Trail Runners SWT From Allbirds Today

Do you like getting out of the house and away from your hometown to get some exercise in? Running on the trails in the woods or any setting that isn’t ... Read more »

Maxx Crosby: We've been rushing well, but we consistently got to the QB against the Broncos

© Provided by NBC Sports After a tumultuous week, the Raiders went to Colorado and crushed the Broncos 34-24 on Sunday. The final score wasn’t quite indicative of how badly ... Read more »

How Lauren Parker Overcame the Odds to Become a Paralympic Silver Medalist

“Can’t” is a word that rarely comes to mind for Lauren Parker. And on the rare occasion when it does, she uses her elite athlete speed to replace the negative ... Read more »

Authorities say three dead after Arkansas officer attacked with knife

Police in Arkansas said that three people are dead and a police officer was injured in a knife attack, USA Today reported Sunday. © Greg Nash A police line set ... Read more »

Biden administration urges Supreme Court to suspend Texas abortion ban

The Biden administration on Monday asked the Supreme Court to intervene and suspend a Texas law that has banned most abortions there. © (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press) The ... Read more »

British Driver Fined Because Traffic Camera Misread Someone Else's Shirt

Over the years, we’ve covered quite a few news stories related to traffic cameras. From a town that was forced to pay back millions of dollars in fines to a ... Read more »

Last chance: Final Daily Getaways travel deals include Marriott and Best Western

© Provided by The Points Guy MSN has partnered with The Points Guy for our coverage of credit card products. MSN and The Points Guy may receive a commission from ... Read more »

Cannabics Pharmaceuticals Announces Two New Provisional Patents: Compositions and Methods For Treating Cancer

© Provided by Benzinga Cannabics Pharmaceuticals Inc. (OTC: CNBX), a global leader in the development of cancer-related cannabinoid-based medicine, announced on Monday that it has filed two new provisional patent applications ... Read more »

‘Ron's Gone Wrong' stars Zach Galifianakis, Jack Dylan Grazer discuss the important lessons in their robot movie

© Courtesy Disney/TNS/TNS Zack Galifianakis voices Ron, left, and Jack Dylan Grazer voices Barney in “Ron’s Gone Wrong.” “Ron’s Gone Wrong” sends the right message about social media, the movie’s ... Read more »

Rob Zombie Shares First Look at The Munsters Remake: 'Newly Completed 1313 Mockingbird Lane'

© Provided by People Universal Studios via Rob Zombie/Instagram The Munsters remake is officially on the way! On Monday, director Rob Zombie shared a first look at the reboot for ... Read more »

The Best Podcast Mics to Buy Right Now, According to Three Professional Sound Engineers

© Courtesy of Adobe Stock/Alex from the Rock All products and services featured by Variety are independently selected by Variety editors. However, Variety may receive a commission on orders placed ... Read more »

‘Sex and the City' reboot: Author Candace Bushnell says show's message isn't 'very feminist'

Cue the pop jazz theme music, designer fashion labels and the New York City cityscapes: The “Sex and the City” ladies are back – well, at least most of them.  Sarah Jessica Parker (who played ... Read more »

ABC Taps Brianna Bennett to Head Drama Development

Brianna Bennett ABC has named Brianna Bennett to lead its drama development team. Bennett will be senior vp drama development at the network, overseeing the department’s daily operations and supervising ... Read more »

Justice Department Asks Supreme Court to Lift Texas Abortion Ban

(Bloomberg) — The Justice Department asked the U.S. Supreme Court to lift Texas’s ban on abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy, setting up a new high court showdown over ... Read more »

Vince Neil rushed to hospital after falling off stage

Motley Crue star Vince Neil is recovering in hospital following a nasty fall off stage which left him with broken ribs. © Bang Showbiz Vince Neil The 60-year-old singer was ... Read more »

18-year-old arrested for drive-by shooting that killed 13-year-old Alabama boy in bedroom

An 18-year-old has been arrested in connected to a drive-by shooting that killed a 13-year-old Alabama boy who was in his bedroom. The Tuscaloosa Police Department said Kei’lan Allen was ... Read more »

Biden meets with Jayapal to kick off week of pivotal meetings

President Biden met Monday at the White House with Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, kicking off a week of planned meetings to break the ... Read more »

Vanderpump Rules' Jax Taylor 'Investing' in His Face by Getting Botox Live

The fountain of youth! Jax Taylor made his return to television with a very unique approach – getting live botox injections. © Rob Latour/Shutterstock Jax Taylor Celebrities Who Admitted They ... Read more »

Pete Carroll: Seahawks have talked to Cam Newton

© Provided by NBC Sports The Seahawks reached out to free agent quarterback Cam Newton after Russell Wilson went down with a finger injury last week. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll ... Read more »

NBA season preview: Expect another Wild West playoff chase

© (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times) Suns Coach Monty Williams hugs guard Chris Paul as teammate Devin Booker, right, watches the final seconds of a series-clinching win over the ... Read more »

Apple event live updates: Watch MacBook Pro with M1 Pro and M1X launch and more now

Macs are about to get an upgrade. Apple is expected to announce its next generation of computers today, powered by its new M1 Pro and M1 max chips. The new devices ... Read more »