Junior Gaspar Caballero is an extraordinary young dancer. At 16 Junior left his home country of Paraguay to pursue his dance dreams in Canada, and has since then has performed on stages across Canada and the US as a member of Canada’s Ballet Jörgen! Get to know Junior and his dance journey, the challenges he face and what brought him to CBJ!
Could you introduce yourself and tell us a little about your dance background?
My name is Junior Gaspar Caballero and I am 21 years old. I started dancing when I was 8 years old. I was a very hyper child and I always saw my sisters dance at school so I wanted to dance because of them. I started with jazz, salsa, hip hop, and Brazilian dance. Around the age of 12 I started modern dance and classical ballet.
What kind of challenges did you face at the beginning of your dance career?
There was definitely a lot of bullying, but I didn’t care so much about it. I knew that I loved to dance and it didn’t matter to me what other people thought. I kept focused, and when I performed at school I left everyone speechless with my dancing. They started to slowly respect me, and as the years went by the bullying faded.
When did you decided that you wanted to make dance your career?
When I was 15 or 16 years old I went to a competition where I had to put a lot of time and effort into rehearsals. It made me realize that I wanted to be a professional dancer, but I think I always knew that I wanted to be a dancer.
What made you decide to come to Canada to pursue your dance career?
In 2012 I was in the Prix de Lausanne competition and I made it to the finals. I received 3 scholarships there and decided to go to Canada’s National Ballet School because it offered the full ride and I could also graduate from high school.
How did you end up at Canada’s Ballet Jörgen?
Before my graduation I was facing really hard times. I was injured and had to go back home to Paraguay for surgery. When I came back to Canada’s National Ballet School for graduation, they asked me what was next and I told them I wanted to go to a summer school or do auditions. They arranged a private audition at CBJ and I ended up getting a contract. It felt amazing to me, because after the injury I didn’t know if I could be a professional ballet dancer anymore.
You’ve been with the company for three years, what have those years been like? What are some of the challenges that you’ve faced and how have you evolved as a dancer?
The transition from being a student to being a professional dancer is huge. The first year I almost felt lost. There are not a lot of rehearsals in professional companies so the challenge for me was to go on stage and do my job and perform without many rehearsals. On top of that I was alone without my family and when I first came I had always been taken care of by the school. It was my first steps as being an adult and there were many personal and artistic challenges.
What do you miss most about home?
The food of course! I miss my family and friends and sometimes I miss the crowd. They really appreciate the art in the sense that when they see something really good they really give it back to you. Here in Canada they are more conservative. In Paraguay they scream and cheer when they see something they like.
What are you proud of? What opportunities has CBJ given you that other dance companies might not have?
I got to dance a lot here. Normally in big companies you only get the small background roles when you first start, but I was able to do lots of different roles.
The Company has also given me a lot of opportunities to teach. I came here as a student so I didn’t get to the chance teach in the beginning, but CBJ pushed me to do it. My first time teaching was at a master class in Florida and the good thing was that the director came after and asked me how long I had been teaching. I told him “this is the first class!”
I really love teaching and I think I have the drive to be a teacher at some point. I want to be able to be a teacher and a professional dancer. I would also like to give back to my country and whatever I get outside of my country I bring it back.
What is the most rewarding part about teaching?
Being able to help and discover things about myself and dance. Some people keep it as a secret to help themselves, but I like to share my dance secrets to help other people.
Have you ever taught your friends to dance back home?
Of course! They love to dance! I also taught in Paraguay at the academy where I started dancing.
Going forward is there anything in particular you want to do in your career? Is there a dream role you would like to dance?
I want to do anything. I want to be able to dance whatever they give me, whether it be principle, solo or corps. For me the most important thing is to be able to dance. I will take any opportunity, and I take any opportunity as a big one.
Make sure you cheer on Junior during this season’s Anastasia tour! Find out when CBJ will be coming to a theatre near you here!
Our anniversary marks 30 years of supporting young artists like Junior. Please consider joining us in our 30-year birthday celebration with a gift of $30!