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Herman Cornejo

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Herman Cornejo
Born (1981-05-13) 13 May 1981 (age 43)
Buenos Aires, Argentina
OccupationBallet dancer
Years active1999–present
SpouseCarmen Corella (divorced)
Current groupAmerican Ballet Theatre

Herman Cornejo (born 13 May 1981)[1] is an Argentine-born ballet dancer and a principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre. He has had leading roles created for him by Alexei Ratmansky and Twyla Tharp; his signature roles include Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, and the leading male role in Ratmansky's Symphony No. 9.

He won a Bessie Award in 2013,[2] and the Prix Benois de la Danse in 2014.[3] In 2004, Joan Acocella called Cornejo "the most technically accomplished male ballet dancer in the United States."[4] He was described by critic Claudia La Rocco as "not a fairy-tale prince," but "something more interesting, and more useful, really, for ballet: a believable, 21st-century hero."[5]



Cornejo was born in a suburb of Buenos Aires.[4] After early ice skating lessons,[6] at the age of eight he was introduced to ballet by his older sister, Erica Cornejo, who later became a principal dancer with the Boston Ballet.[7] Cornejo enrolled in the school of the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires at age 9.[4] At 14, he began studying at the School of American Ballet on a full scholarship, and subsequently left to join Julio Bocca's Ballet Argentino.[8]

At 16, he placed first at the Eighth International Moscow Competition, becoming the youngest winner in the history of the competition.[2][7] In 1998, aged 17, he joined the ABT Studio Company as an apprentice.[2]

Professional career[edit]

In 1999, at the ABT, Cornejo was chosen for the role of the Bronze Idol in Makarova's production of La Bayadère in Japan. Soon after, in 2000, he was promoted to the rank of soloist, and in 2003 became a Principal Dancer.[2] Since then, he has danced many major roles; signature roles include Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, and the leading male role in Ratmansky's Symphony No. 9.[6][9]

Cornejo has worked with a number of choreographers. Major roles have been created on him by Alexei Ratmansky,[10][11] Mauro Bigonzetti,[12] Trey McIntyre,[4] Jorma Elo,[5] Twyla Tharp,[12] and Martha Clarke,[7] among others. Cornejo has also choreographed several pieces for himself.[13]

More recently, he has collaborated with Italian ballerina Alessandra Ferri, after they starred together in a 2013 ABT production.[14] This collaboration led to other projects, including the 2016 production "TRIO ConcertDance".[14] In 2015, Cornejo was the artistic director of the Latin American Stars Gala, part of the Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County's 50th anniversary celebrations.[15][16]

In 2014, Cornejo was awarded the Prix Benois de la Danse for Outstanding Male Dancer, for his portrayals of Aminta in Sylvia, Caliban in The Tempest and a leading role in Symphony #9, as well as for his appearance in Martha Clarke’s Chéri.[17]

In October 2019, Cornejo celebrated his 20th anniversary with ABT with a special performance at the Lincoln Center, including George Balanchine's Apollo with Cornejo's frequent partner, Misty Copeland, El Chamuyo with his sister and former Boston Ballet principal dancer, Erica Cornejo, and Twyla Tharp's new work, A Gathering of Ghosts.[18]

Cornejo has performed as a guest artist with numerous companies around the world, including Ballet Estable del Teatro Colón, La Scala Ballet, Universal Ballet of Korea, National Ballet of Japan, Kremlin Ballet, Dortmund Ballett, New York City Ballet, Boston Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Martha Graham Company, Ballet Hispánico, Ballet Contemporáneo de Cuba and Corella Ballet Castilla y León.[2]

Selected repertoire[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

Cornejo has earned international recognition as a soloist. In 2005, he was appointed a "Messenger of Peace" by UNESCO and "Dancer of the Year" by The New York Times; he won a Bessie Award in 2013.[2] In 2014, he won the "Best Male Dancer" award of the international Prix Benois de la Danse,[3][19] along with the Positano Prize in Italy.[16]

In a 2004 profile in The New Yorker, critic Joan Acocella called Cornejo "the most technically accomplished male ballet dancer in the United States" even though, she noted, he is unusually short for a male principal.[4] Critic John Rockwell wrote in The New York Times: "What makes Mr. Cornejo great is that his stunts don't look like stunts but like beautiful dancing."[20] The NYT's chief dance critic, Alastair Macaulay, praised his artistic range in 2016: "His jumps' height and his turns' speed matter less than their windblown, tilting ecstasy and shining, boyish fervor. How can this paragon of adolescent lyricism also be the mature prince or witty imp we see in other ballets?"[21] In the Los Angeles Times in 2013, Susan Reiter wrote: "Cornejo has elegantly and boldly left expectations behind. The phenomenal technique continues to amaze, but he always uses it to express the essence of each role."[6] Critic Gia Kourlas called "Momentum", a piece Cornejo choreographed to music by Philip Glass, an "unpretentious exploration of his clean virtuosity."[14] He generally attracts enthusiastic applause, indicating his popular appeal.[5]

Cornejo is 5 feet 6 inches (1.68 m) tall, unusually short for a male ballet dancer. Traditional ballet roles cast short male dancers in minor or comical parts, and Cornejo was given such parts early in his career; critics called for him to be given larger roles, in recognition of his technical ability and popularity, and he was eventually cast in many lead roles as his career progressed.[4][5][22] Cornejo has remarked that he feels "much bigger" than others perceive him, enjoying "big, slow" adagio choreography as well as the quicker movements generally assigned to smaller dancers.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Cornejo was married to Carmen Corella, a professional dancer from Spain and the sister of Ángel Corella, the founder and director of the Corella Ballet.[5][23]

Cornejo is now married to an Argentine journalist, they have a child and are living in the Bronx, New York City.[24]

Cornejo enjoys drawing as a hobby.[11]

In 2022, an honoree by the Carnegie Corporation of New York's Great Immigrant Award.[25]


  1. ^ "Herman Cornejo". Fundación Konex (in Spanish). 16 March 2016. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Herman Cornejo". American Ballet Theatre. Retrieved 15 April 2020.
  3. ^ a b Rizzuto, Rachel (4 September 2014). "Honors and Awards". Dance Teacher magazine. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Acocella, Joan (1 November 2004). "New Heights: An A.B.T. dancer defies a ballet convention". The New Yorker. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d e Rocco, Claudia La (14 October 2007). "Herman Cornejo – American Ballet Theater". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  6. ^ a b c Reiter, Susan (7 July 2013). "Herman Cornejo stands tall in multiple roles in ABT's 'Le Corsaire'". LA Times. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  7. ^ a b c Lavandera, Maria José (26 January 2016). "Herman Cornejo: La intensidad de un bailarín auténtico". Revol – Revista de Danza (in Spanish). Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  8. ^ "About me". Herman Cornejo. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  9. ^ Macaulay, Alastair (2 June 2013). "Ratmansky's 'Shostakovich Trilogy' at American Ballet Theater". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  10. ^ a b Harss, Marina (29 September 2010). "Reverence: A Prince of Artistry: Herman Cornejo". Pointe Magazine. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  11. ^ a b "Interview: Herman Cornejo – American Ballet Theatre – Principal". DanceTabs. 26 November 2012. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  12. ^ a b "Herman Cornejo". International Ballet Masterclass in Prague. 15 October 2014. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  13. ^ "Herman Cornejo". Integrarte. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  14. ^ a b c Kourlas, Gia (3 March 2016). "Review: Alessandra Ferri, Herman Cornejo and Piano Makes Three". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  15. ^ "These star ballerinas are retiring – graceful, and grateful, to the last dance". The Washington Post. 20 March 2015. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  16. ^ a b "Dance at the Music Center to Host First-Ever International Dance Collaboration and World Premiere of BalletNow". Music Center. 23 June 2015. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  17. ^ "Herman Cornejo, Polina Semionova and Alexei Ratmansky Win 2014 Benois de la Danse Prize". 4 June 2014. Retrieved 15 April 2020.
  18. ^ "NY ballet crowd fetes Herman Cornejo on 20th ABT anniversary". Business Insider. 27 October 2019. Retrieved 15 April 2020.
  20. ^ Rockwell, John (16 February 2005). "A Medley of Ballet Hits Delivered by Power Couples". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  21. ^ Macaulay, Alastair (24 June 2016). "Review: At 53, an Effortless Return to Dance 'Romeo and Juliet'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  22. ^ Wegsman, Graciela Berger (23 October 2008). "American ballet gets Latino dancer fever". NY Daily News. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  23. ^ "Una historia de hermanos: Ángel y Carmen Corella". La Nación (in Spanish). 22 August 2012. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  24. ^ Harss, Marina (17 October 2019). "Herman Cornejo: A Ballet Hero's Milestone". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 April 2020.
  25. ^ "Herman Cornejo". Carnegie Corporation of New York. Retrieved 12 June 2024.

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