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Ballet Pensacola's 'Sleeping Beauty' is the first show for new Artistic Director

Stéphano Candreva
Ballet Pensacola
Stéphano Candreva

In February, Ballet Pensacola announced Stéphano Candreva as its new artistic director. The Brazil-born dancer trained at the Studio de Dança Com-Passos and later graduated from the Escola de Dança Alice Arja in Rio de Janeiro. He's worked with Smuin Contemporary Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, and The Suzanne Farrell Ballet.

This weekend's production of "Sleeping Beauty" is the first production under Candreva's direction. We asked him a few questions about his art and the future of Ballet Pensacola.

WUWF: What is your background in dance and ballet:

Stéphano Candreva: My journey in dance began in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where I immersed myself in various styles such as Jazz, tap, contemporary, and classical ballet from a young age. I even had the opportunity to dance for a major Brazilian television show during my adolescence. As I turned 18, I embarked on my professional career, starting with a ballet job in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, followed by a stint with Cisne Negro in Sao Paulo before eventually moving to the United States.

WUWF: How is ballet different or the same in Brazil?

Candreva: While ballet retains its essence across borders, there are notable differences in Brazil — particularly in infrastructure and opportunities. Many rehearsal spaces and studios lack proper flooring, often being concrete, yet the passion for ballet remains vibrant. In Brazil, students are granted more opportunities to perform compared to their counterparts in the U.S., fostering a unique stage presence and experience.

WUWF: What made you want to come to Pensacola?

Candreva: Last summer, I was invited to teach at a summer program in Pensacola, and I instantly fell in love with the city's charm — from its beachside allure to its welcoming community and delightful cuisine. The inviting atmosphere, coupled with the prospect of contributing to the local dance scene, drew me to Pensacola.

WUWF: What was it like to transition from dancing in ballet companies to leading them?

Candreva: Transitioning from being a dancer in ballet companies to leading them has been both fulfilling and challenging. While I've always harbored a passion for nurturing dancers and fostering a supportive environment, the transition is bittersweet. It's difficult to let go of performing, as dance has been an integral part of my identity. Nonetheless, the opportunity to guide and inspire others in their dance journey is immensely rewarding."

WUWF: What can we expect from the ballet under your direction?

Candreva: Under my direction, you can expect a blend of passion, creativity, and storytelling. I am committed to crafting performances that not only showcase technical prowess but also resonate emotionally with audiences. Through meticulous coaching and choreography, I aim to connect viewers with the narratives unfolding on stage, leaving them introspective and moved by the experience.

WUWF: What can you say about the dancers and students you have gotten to know in the short time you've been there?

Candreva: In the short time I've been in Pensacola, I've had the privilege of working with incredibly dedicated dancers and students. Their passion for dance is palpable, and their relentless pursuit of growth and excellence is truly inspiring. Witnessing their progression and hunger for knowledge fuels my own creativity and deepens my appreciation for this art form. I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with such a talented and motivated group.