Spotlight Saturday: Marianela Nunez

This week's Spotlight Saturday features Marianela Nunez, who has just celebrated twenty years with the Royal Ballet.

Marianela Nunez was born in San Martin, Argentina, on March 23 1982. She began dance classes at 3, and was accepted into the Instituto Superior de Arte of the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires at the age of 8. At 14, she joined the corps de ballet of the Teatro Colon. In 1997, she toured Uruguay, Spain, Italy and Japan as the partner of Maximiliano Guerra, before touring to Europe with the Teatro Colon.

In September 1997, she joined the graduate class at the Royal Ballet School. For her graduation, she performed the lead in Sir Kenneth MacMillan's Soiree Musicale for Dame Ninette de Valois' 100th Birthday Gala, as well as the lead in Raymonda Act III and as Third Shade in La Bayadere. She joined the Royal Ballet in 1998 at 16, and was promoted to first soloist in 2001 and then principal in 2002.

She has performed a number of roles in works by the following choreographers: Sir Kenneth MacMillan (Soiree Musicale, Concerto, Romeo and Juliet, Mayerling, Manon); Sir Frederick Ashton (Cinderella, La Fille Mal Gardee, Ondine, Daphnis et Chloe); Christopher Wheeldon (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland); Rudolf Nureyev (Raymonda, Don Quixote); Bronislava Nijinska (Les Biches); Vaslav Nijinsky (Afternoon of a Faun); Ninette de Valois (Coppelia); Sir Peter Wright (Giselle, The Nutcracker); Anthony Dowell (Swan Lake); George Balanchine (Agon, Apollo, Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, The Four Temperaments, Jewels); John Cranko (Onegin); Natalia Makarova (La Bayadere, The Sleeping Beauty); William Forsythe (In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated); and Johan Kobborg (Napoli Variations), among others.

She is widely regarded as one of the best interpreters of Sir Frederick Ashton's works. Critics have drawn attention in particular to her performance of Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, stating her to be among the ballet's finest since 1946 with 'the phrasing of an angel'. She has also been acclaimed for her performance of the Diana and Actaeon Pas de Deux alongside Carlos Acosta and her interpretation of Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, which critics called 'sublime'. She was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award in 2007 for The Sleeping Beauty and Chroma. She is also celebrated for The Dying Swan and Romeo and Juliet. In 2009, she guest starred at La Scala in Milan, performing Gamzatti in La Bayadere alongside Roberto Bolle as Solor and Svetlana Zakharova as Nikiya.

On February 1 2018, after a performance of Giselle, a small ceremony was held on the Covent Garden stage to mark Nunez's 20th year with the company, at which Royal Ballet artistic director Kevin O'Hare called Nunez 'one of the greats of her generation'.

Thanks for reading!

- Selene

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