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Bessie Nominee Profile: Juan Ogalla

Written by
Helen Shaw

For the next two weeks, we'll be counting down to the Bessie Awards—also known as the New York Dance and Performance Awards—by talking to the 15 performance nominees. This year, the nominators have honored a remarkably diverse group, one that manages to span the spectrum from trance dancers to flamenco performers, from longtime legends to exciting new faces. We'll be posting new interviews nearly every day, so be sure to check back to learn about the best New York dance has to offer—and start getting your fanciest duds together for the Bessie Awards at the Apollo Theater on October 19th.

RECOMMENDED: See more on the Bessie Awards

Juan Ogalla has been nominated for a Bessie for his work in Antigona, the blistering flamenco adaptation of Sophocles' tragedy, choreographed by (and starring) Soledad Barrio. In the piece, Ogalla played Haemon, Antigona's lover and Creonte's doomed son, and even in a production marked by intensity, Ogalla's vehement flamenco puro made the room vibrate—his fury formed a counterpoint to Barrio's anguish; his headlong passion made her sacrifice more painful. Juan Ogalla is in Spain, so he responded to questions via email, which were then translated into English.

When did you start working with Soledad Barrio?
We started working together over ten years ago.

What is your most memorable moment from performing in Antigona?
It's hard to select just one; it’s very hard work, not only dancing, but also playing a character. I'd say all the moments that have gone into the stage work and in having incarnated Haemon.

Did performing in Antigona change your work as a performer? If so, how?
Not that it’s changed it. It’s been an evolution, because besides dancing, I had to play a character that opened new registers in me and dared me to go places that I didn’t even know I had in me.

Do you feel you have a specific philosophy that you bring to your dancing?
My dance philosophy always starts from the truth; I always listen to my heart, my way of feeling… from there on I always try to enjoy myself…Enjoy every step, every breath…

Do you have a pre-show ritual, and if so, what is it?
I'm not a person given to rituals, but I do always hug all my colleagues before going on stage.

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