A long time ago! And it wasn’t really a dance class. I lived with my family in Cartagena, Spain. My little sister was taking dance lessons. One day in December 1979, there was a costume party and my mother asked me to attend with my little sister. I was nine years old. When the professor saw me, she said “Stay with us if you want to.” It was a sort of party that lasted five hours from the afternoon until 9pm. I had a great time. When she saw my mother, the professor told her “He’s got rhythm, this boy. Why doesn’t he study dance?” I thought it was fantastic!
So that’s how I found myself at the bar in a white T-shirt with some sort of tights and Spanish leather slippers that were as hard as wood and caused me huge pain. I got into this to party and ended up suffering like a martyr. My first real course was a genuine disappointment. I expected to dance right away, instead I underwent torture.
Of course, I was the only boy in the class. After the first disappointing experience, I asked “So, when are we going to dance?” Pilar replied, “We’ll do a show in two or three months.” We performed “Grease” and I naturally had the role of John Travolta. So I continued in the dance school, taking three courses a week. One day, Pilar said to my mother that she had taught me everything she could and that I should go elsewhere to study. That’s how I wound up in Cannes, at Rosella Hightower’s school. I met Pilar again when I was awarded the medal of honor of the City of Cartagena. She has also come to see me dance at the Paris Opera.
Today, it’s José’s turn to give classes, with passion, to younger dancers…
Interview with Martine Plannels