(Phoograph by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

Francesca Dugarte, 25, joined the Washington Ballet last year. Originally from Venezuela, she is a former member of ballet companies in Switzerland and Spain. She will perform in the Washington Ballet’s production “Petite Mort” beginning Oct. 22.

What do you think about onstage?

I don’t know. Sometimes I finish dancing, and I’m like, Whoa, what happened? That’s why ballet is an addiction, it’s like a drug. It’s like a state of mind where I can’t think. It’s the perfect moment.

When you watch a ballet, what do you focus on?

I try to absorb everything that that ballerina has to give. I really want to see her soul. That’s what I’m looking for. Because I feel like every dancer has something, a purpose, something inside of them that they want to give out.

Pro athletes have good games and bad games. Is that true of dancers as well?

Totally. There are days when it just doesn’t happen. And it’s really frustrating, but I try to keep the mind-set of: “It’s okay. We’re humans; we’re not robots.” We all have good days, we all have bad days. We just have to work harder.

What is the worst thing someone can say to a ballet dancer?

You’re fat. [Laughs.]

Do you want to say more about that?

Well, we spend a lot of time working on our bodies, and it’s so easy to say, “Oh, I’ll just have a chocolate, or I’ll just have a pizza.” We have to give up a lot of things. I’m Latina, so I have a booty, and it’s hard for me to keep in ballerina shape. So I really try to work hard on that and focus on that. I have to be the perfect size and the perfect weight to look good onstage.

Do dancers talk about this to each other?

I think it’s a really delicate thing. We talk about it, we try to help each other. But it’s super delicate.

What do you want to accomplish in your career?

I guess like every girl I just want to be the dancer that little girls look at. I want to be a role model as a dancer. I want to be on the biggest stage in the world. I want people to know my name. I want to accomplish the most I can for who I am.

What percentage of your awake life would you say has been spent dancing or practicing dance?

I think I’ve been dancing more than resting. But it’s good. I can rest when I die.

You’ve now been in Washington a year. How are you adjusting to life here?

Oh, I love it. I think this city is amazing. I’ve lived in Zurich and Milan and Florence and Madrid, and this is the best. I like the people. I like the environment. I like how people work. I like how the city moves.

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