The Boston Ballet's Reigning Sugar Plum Fairy
by jessica laniewski
photograph by stephen sherman
Long before she begins a full day of arabesques and pirouettes, Erica Cornejo, a principal dancer with Boston Ballet, spends her early mornings warming up with the Gyrotonic Expansion System in the company’s newly remodeled, light-filled training room in the South End.
The Argentinean native, who is performing in the roles of Sugar Plum Fairy and Snow Queen in The Nutcracker this year, has recently begun doing Pilates and Gyrotonic exercises for an hour before practice, five days a week. “I worked through injuries when I was young because I was so strong,” says Cornejo, who has been with Boston Ballet since 2006. “You should start taking care of your body before you get injuries.” Her husband, Carlos Molina, a former principal dancer with the company, is a certified Gyrotonic teacher and has helped her establish a morning workout of abdominal and back stretches.
When Boston Ballet isn’t in session, Cornejo dances for other companies in Europe and Asia and has laced up her slippers in Israel, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, and China. The ballerina loves the expressive dances that have more acting to them and has performed across the world in Nureyev’s Don Quixote, Bournonville’s La Sylphide, and Gielgud’s Giselle.
“With dancing it is nice to have the chance to do what you love, travel, and meet new people and wear new costumes,” says the 33-year-old. While this ballerina has seen the world in toe shoes, she always enjoys coming home to Boston. “I love the architecture; it is so European,” says Cornejo. “I do exactly the same things I was doing in New York, but Boston is calmer and there is more space.” Watch Cornejo explore that space when she takes the stage in Mikko Nissinen’s reimagining of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, running until December 31 at The Boston Opera House. 539 Washington St., 617- 695-6955; bostonballet.org