Dylan Gutierrez grew up in Van Nuys, California and received his training at the Los Angeles Ballet Academy under the direction of his mother Andrea-Paris Gutierrez. In 2006, he was awarded a full scholarship to train at The Royal Ballet School in London. With the guidance of Gailene Stock, Gary Norman, and Meelis Pakri, he was offered a job as an apprentice with the San Francisco Ballet where he danced ballets such as The Four Temperaments and West Side Story Suite. Since joining The Joffrey Ballet, Mr. Gutierrez has danced many roles in the Joffrey's extensive repertory. Favorite roles include Death in The Green Table, Basilio in Don Quixote, the title role in Othello, and the main pas de deux couple from Infra. In 2014, he performed his dream role as Prince Seigfried in Swan Lake.
How did you start dancing?
I started dancing when I was probably too young to even know why. I was 3 years old and my mother would bring me to the classes she taught and since I was always there and a little rowdy she had me join in. It just so happened that the longer I stuck with it the more I fell in love with it and enjoyed it even more then my other activities like basketball and skateboarding.
What gets you out of bed in the mornings?
Definitely reminding myself that the day ahead of me is going to be filled with great things. Even if I am feeling down about something ultimately my job is to be active and to express myself, and that's something you can't take for granted. Lately I have been reminding myself I am very lucky to be healthy and able to choose what I want to do with my life. Not everyone has that luxury so it would be foolish of me to not enjoy the moments I have and recognize that life is good.
Most memorable moment of your career?
Most memorable was probably when I had to go in for someone who got injured in Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux. I only knew the variation I didn't know any of the other sections and I had a rehearsal at the end of the day on the day before the show. The next day we were performing it in our company's gala. I was so nervous because that pas de deux is exhausting even when you know it. I was 21 and I was scared. It was memorable though because the Company had Edward Liang and Philip Neal (two former NYCB dancers) in town at the same time so they kept me relaxed before the show by goofing off a little in dress rehearsal and I had a really great show. I think it cemented my reputation within the company as a reliable leading male dancer and I think it was something the staff referred to when suggesting me for other lead roles.
Who is your role model and why?
My role model would have to be both of my parents. There are a few people that I like and look up too but the people who have ultimately had the most impact on me and my outlook are my parents. They taught me how to be able to not just believe everything that is in front of me but also be moldable and adaptable to certain situations. As a result of that I feel like at times I am good at feeling people out and not just being impressed by a name but by how someone works with others and approaches things.
Do you have a specific way of warming up for a performance or to get focused for a main role?
My warm up is usually the warm up class. Then after I get into "Conservation Mode" which is pretty much me trying to stay as relaxed and low energy as possible so that I can direct my energy and focus the right way on stage. I listen to music in my headphones and I will go up to stage early to practice with my partner and work up a sweat before I take the stage. I think you always feel better if you have already sweated a little before the curtain goes up.
Which is your favourite theatre in the world to dance in?
I really love The Kennedy Center in Washington DC. I feel like I have had a lot of great performances in that theater and it holds a special place in my heart. I also Love the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden because I trained at the Royal Ballet School and getting to perform there in our Graduation performance is an opportunity of a lifetime.
How has ballet made you the person you are today?
Well I am who I am because much of my Identity is that of a ballet dancer. I approach life like a ballet dancer, I feel I make decisions like a ballet dancer. It is hard for that not to happen when you dedicate your life to something. I love who ballet has made me and I think it's extremely cool that I am a male ballet dancer. I am strong because of ballet, I am smart because of ballet and I also have my wonderful girlfriend and a lot of my friends because of ballet and that's very special.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I play drums and I think I have a good knack for making people laugh. I like being able to get people to bust up laughing at something I said, and I like to make people smile.
Photo by CherylMann
What is your favourite ballet trick/step?
I love when a ballet allows me to do a Revoltade Devant, like Solor in La Bayadere' coda in the third act. I am not the biggest trickster but for my size I think I have a couple up my sleeve. I also love finishing a pirouette with a double tour where I start with my supporting leg in coupe and then changing to go coupe back with my working leg in the air before landing back on my supporting leg if that makes any sense...
Any advice for young aspiring ballet dancers?
You have to love it. That's all I can say, whether you are good or bad or a prodigy you have to love it and want to really work for it because that will be the difference maker. There are plenty of extremely talented people with no heart that don't really make it and there are plenty of not as talented people with a lot of heart and grit who make it and have great careers. I will always appreciate someone who goes all in and who really cares about not only being a great dancer but great coworker as well.
What's your escape from the ballet the world?
I love to listen to music, I also recently got a dog and she is like therapy for me. She is a little Boston Terrier. I am also into fashion somewhat and I like to invest in nice clothing and brands others might not know about. Every once in a while, I like making little webisodes for my Facebook and YouTube to give people a peak at who I am outside of ballet.
What has been the hardest and most challenging role you have performed?
Solor from La Bayadere was really difficult but I think the hardest was Lar Lubovitch's Othello. That partnering work is out of this world, as Othello you dance with Iago and Desdemona and the circular movements are so exhausting. It is a beautiful ballet so fantastically told by Lar's choreography that it was worth every second of the struggle.