Warriors can wear all kinds of things, a shiny armor or a police uniform, and believe me or not, many warriors wear ballet tights.
One of these is Pablo Octavio. At the sweet age of 24, Pablo is a first soloist of the Staatsballet Karlsruhe, where we worked together for three years. His natural talent and crazy technic make him enviable and his never-ending will to work is extremely admirable. He has fought a few injuries, including a hip surgery, but his determination and hard work have gotten him back in his best shape yet. That is why I wanted to share his story.
Born in Brazil, Pablo started to dance because of his brother, Jonathan dos Santos, who is also a dancer in the Gauthier Ballet (Stuttgart). “My brother Jonathan was always very connected with dance, and would make choreographies at his school, one day, when I was about nine years old a ballet teacher watched a choreography he had created at a school event and took him to Ballet classes, and that’s how it all began. After a few weeks, I also started going to classes with him, and from then on we never stopped, even though we moved cities a lot.”
His most significant move so far was moving to Germany when he was only sixteen, “I was offered a scholarship at the International Competition in Brasilia to study at the Mannheim Ballet School in Germany, and of course that was a fantastic chance I couldn’t pass. In Brazil art is not a priority, differently from Germany, that offers artists a lot of opportunities and support. I graduated after three years, and moved on to work at the State Ballet in Karlsruhe.”
But even though he is exceptionally talented, he didn’t always think he would be a dancer, according to him: “I never really took it seriously, I knew I really liked to dance and that turned out to be a way I found to best express myself.” Right now he loves his work and plans to stay in Europe, “The value art has in Germany makes all the difference in an artists life, being able to earn a living doing what you love is priceless.”
In 2016, Pablo underwent a hip surgery that kept him off the stage for more or less six months, including recovery time, this was undoubtedly a low point in his career. “Things get very complicated when you don’t know whether your body will recover, and if so, whether you will be able to go back to the same level, so it takes a lot of patience and determination.” Shortly after coming back to training, he fell again and broke his foot, that meant an extra four months off. So back he went to the recovery center. “I am very grateful for the doctors at the recovery center Medicos auf Schalke in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, they didn’t only take care of me physically, but they also prepared me mentally to make a fast come back.”
And like any other warrior, he has learned a lot from his injuries, “We can not take ourselves too seriously, and Physical preparation is crucial these days! We live in a time where athletes are pushing their limits more than ever, ballet requires a lot more of our bodies than it used to, and it is essential to prepare ourselves with extra training such as Gyrotonic, pilates, and physiotherapy and to surround ourselves with good specialists that can tell us exactly what our body needs.”
When asked about the high points of his career so far, he said he has had a few, such as McMillan’s Romeo, “it is such a technical role but with such a great story that makes you forget everything and live this character as much as possible. Another significant role that really helped to develop my artistry and allowed me to let go of many feelings was Kitty in Reginaldo Oliveira’s Anne Frank, and last, but not least, last year I had the chance to dance one of my brother’s choreographies again, in a Ballet Gala here in Karlsruhe. This was extra special, because ten years later, it took me back to right where we started, showed me how far we have both come and how grateful I am today for all of it.”
Moving forward he is not making big plans yet, “I have my dreams, but I try to stay focused on what I am doing right now. Sometimes we make a lot of expectations and forget to live the moment.” But he did confess Balanchine and Forsythe would definitely be future goals, as well as helping other dancers become their best self.
And when I asked if he could give an advice to younger dancers, he said “they should concentrate on what they feel is the best for themselves, and to not compare yourself to anyone else, If you feel your best and keep working hard you will keep on growing regardless of what is happening around you. It is not an easy thing to do, but its worth a try.”
He certainly has a bright future ahead!