THERE are not too many reasons WA Ballet fans could forgive soloist Andre Santos for leaving the company at the end of May’s Don Quixote season, but missing his family in Brazil is cause for exoneration.
The 25-year-old has been a wonder to watch on the Perth stage for the past seven years, both dancing and developing his choreography skills, but being so far away from his family since 16 (when he studied at New Zealand School of Dance) is taking its toll.
“I’ve learnt a lot and grown a lot but I also feel like I’ve missed a lot of opportunities to be with my family on special occasions,” Santos, who grew up in Embu, Sao Paulo, said.
“I have a niece and two nephews, one who will be my godson, but they haven’t baptised him yet because I haven’t been able to get home.
“My brother has been holding off on his wedding for four years now because I’m his best man. Mum and I are very close; we Skype every day and it’s not good for my phone bill, but it’s worth it.
“I’m looking at this as an opportunity to explore different sides of myself as a professional; to dive into different waters and see what happens.”
Santos said he had been thinking about leaving WA Ballet for about a year but waited to see artistic director Aurelien Scannella’s 2017 program.
Despite the allure of staying until the end of the year for Peter Pan, he decided the poetic nature of finishing with Don Quixote, the first season he performed as a member of WA Ballet at His Majesty’s Theatre in 2010, was too good to miss.
“I had such an amazing time back then and it was the first time I got an overload of information, which made me want more,” he said.
“It made me hungry and I absolutely love this ballet. I’ll have performed 501 shows here on closing night of Don Quixote.”
Santos will perform the role of wealthy Gamache, adding the character to a long list of highlights at the company including 5 by David Dawson, Ballet 101 by Eric Gauthier, working with Toby Behan (the original Peter Pan), and Pinocchio, which was created for him by then artistic director Ivan Cavallari as his final new work for WA Ballet.
“My mum came here in 2012 for Pinocchio,” he said.
“Ivan pulled me aside and said he would be creating the ballet before he told the other dancers and told me not to tell anyone.
“I was fidgety, so I told my mum and said she had to get a passport because she didn’t have one. I organised her visa and got her on a flight.
“She was here for two weeks, saw three performances including closing night and was a mess every single show, but loved it.”
Santos will return home to Brazil for seven weeks after Don Quixote before he travels to his new ballet company in Montreal.
“It’s just a 10-hour flight from Montreal to Brazil rather than 25 hours from here,” he said.
“I am excited to be the new kid on the block again.”
What: Don Quixote
Where: His Majesty’s Theatre
When: May 11 to 27