A Chat with Jarina Carvalho

Q: Could you tell us a bit about your training and career and how they’ve influenced you as a teacher? 

My early training was quite the bumpy road… I started ballet training at age 6 with a wonderful local studio in Brasília, and by age 9 I was offered a full scholarship to study in Russia. Needless to say, my mother did not allow me to move to Russia alone to study ballet, and by the end of that year I stopped dancing. I didn’t return to ballet until I was 12 and had so much to catch up on. Most of my training after that felt like a game of chase, never the lead, and always having to prove myself. By the time I got my first principal role in my studio I was dancing next to none other than Peter Boal (today artistic director of Pacific Northwest Ballet)! Peter opened the doors to the world! I spent a summer at School of American Ballet (my first and only summer intensive), and was invited to spent a year at the school on full scholarship. It was a very difficult year trying to adjust to the new culture in one of the most competitive ballet schools in the country, and at the end of that year, I returned to Brazil. Back at home, it was time to regroup and focus. I made several trips to foreign countries to audition for multiple companies. I had lots of rejections, lots of ups and downs, but I was finally accepted to study at The Dance Theatre of Harlem professional school. DTH became my home as a professional ballerina for many years after that. The one thing my training has taught me is that opportunities may come my way, but I can only take advantage of them if I am fully prepared. That influences me every day.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about teaching? 

Being a teacher is my vocation and I love it more than I ever liked being a ballet dancer. My favorite thing about teaching is helping find out what my students need to do to be ready for the opportunities that will come to their way.

Q: What interests do you have outside of dance?

I love spending time with my family, eating good food, and enjoying their company. I also spend some time gardening, sewing, and painting.

Q: What’s been your favorite moment as an artist? 

So many! Traveling the world with Dance Theatre of Harlem, watching the New York City Ballet almost weekly when I was at SAB, amongst so many others. Being a ballerina is a magical thing!

Q: Any quick words of advice to your students? 

Passing the advice it was given to me by an old teacher:

“If you want to succeed in this game you got to:

1. Be strategic (Figure out what you want and what is important for you do to get what you want.)

2. Work really hard at it (Give it all you got, don’t hold back!)

3. Don’t give a damn (Once you have done everything under your control learn to relax, because you did all you could; don’t stress about things that are out of your control.)”