BBMAG – Hugo, let’s start at the beginning: where are you from? Where do you now call home and tell us a bit about your family and childhood.
HUGO– I was born in Salvador, in Bahia, on July 8, 1984.
I had the best childhood. Though we were poor, I was happy. I remember playing in the street, not like the kids of today, with their video games. I miss the freedom we had back then. My neighbourhood is very different now, as is Brazil. I grew up with my mother and my grandmother: my superheroes. They taught me so much. They kept things as real as possible, so that from an early age I would know that with dedication and focus I could get anywhere in life. I left Brazil when I was 19. I was hired for The Lion King in Hamburg and my life changed forever.
BBMAG – What is your connection with the UK today?
HUGO– I moved to London in 2005. My dancing career took off here. London is my second home. I’ve toured the UK with stage productions, performed ballet at the Royal Opera House, met my dancing icon (Carlos Acosta), performed for Michelle Obama and the G20 First Ladies, been involved in movies, magazines, TV…. I couldn’t have asked for more.
BBMAG -What is your perception of Brazil in the music and arts circles in the UK?
HUGO– Great. The music produced in Brazil is very popular overseas, especially MPB. Every professional Brazilian dancer I know is doing well. As well as our technical ability, we always add a little extra “flavour” that makes us stand out in the crowd.
BBMAG – And your interest in music, dance and arts, when did it first start?
HUGO– I grew up playing percussion. Candomblé and Capoeira were early influences, and still are. However, as a teenager kept getting hurt when performing Capoeira and had no free time to keep up with my studies and acting classes. My father, who was the director of a dance company I was with (Balé Folclórico Da Bahia), told me to choose what to focus on. I’m glad I picked dancing as it allowed me to see the world and choose a better life.
BBMAG – Tell us about the professional career.
HUGO– I’ve had a very successful career. I sacrificed a lot but it has paid off well. In June 2003 I went to The Lion King audition thinking I wouldn’t have a chance. More than 800 people auditioned. Two months later I got the call to join the musical in Germany. It was life changing. From then on it has been non-stop.
BBMAG – Tell us a little bit about the show that you’re in at the moment (STOMP).
HUGO– STOMP is a perfect blend of acting, music and dancing. The show is super creative and I can’t get enough of it. 10 years in the company and I still get butterflies before walking out on stage. The show allows me to inject a bit of myself into the role I play, which is fun.
BBMAG – What do you like doing in your free time? Do you have any hobbies?
HUGO– I love movies—I go to the cinema on my days off. I like reading too, but most of all I love salsa. When I’m not dancing for money, I’m dancing for fun.
BBMAG – What is your recommendation for young musicians and artists who are starting their professional careers?
HUGO– Study. You have to be versatile and knowledgeable in whatever area you choose. As a musician, improving your music IQ and knowledge of other genres will translate into better listening and better playing. The same thing with dancing. Study as many types of dance as you can. Even if you choose only to master one, your mobility and versatility will be far greater.
BBMAG – Finally, please tell us a little bit about your future projects and anything else you would like to share with us.
HUGO– I recently became a senior Apple technician with a large company here in the UK. I love to learn and develop new skills. Technology is part of our everyday life, so I am challenging myself to understand the tech world.