Portuguese ballet dancer Marcelino Sambé named ‘Personality of Year’
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Portuguese ballet dancer Marcelino Sambé named ‘Personality of Year’

Sambé’s career is the stuff of fairytales…

Marcelino Sambé, a principal dancer of London’s Royal Ballet, is this year’s winner of the Personality of the Year/Martha de la Cal award of the Foreign Press Association in Portugal (AIEP), the group announced today.

Said a statement by the association: “The AIEP distinguishes Marcelino Sambé, 28 years old, for his unique artistic career and the path taken as a Portuguese of African roots, from the so-called ‘social neighbourhoods’ to the biggest dance stage in Europe”.

Sambé joined the Royal Ballet in 2012. He was made principal dancer in 2019, when reports highlighted his extraordinary journey from ‘once troubled child put into foster care’ to lead dancer in one of the largest and most prestigious ballet companies in the world.

Earlier this year, Sambé was decorated by president Marcelo with the rank of Knight of the Military Order of Sant’Iago da Espada.

Says AIEP president Carolina Ribeiro: “Marcelino Sambé has been a source of pride for Portugal since he took off to become a professional in London. He has had a brilliant career and this year we have been able to follow his achievements even more closely”.

The AIEP award aims to honour a person or institution that has contributed to promoting Portugal’s image abroad during the year.

The distinction has been awarded since 1990, based on a vote by the 50 or so foreign journalists accredited in Portugal who are members of AIEP. The prize takes its name from Martha De La Cal (1926-2011), a US-born journalist who was the correspondent in Portugal for Time magazine for over 40 years.

Last year, the award went to the then Vice-Admiral Henrique Gouveia e Melo, the former coordinator of Portugal’s taskforce for vaccination against Covid-19, who is now in charge of the Navy.

Sambé has learnt of this latest distinction while performing in Lisbon, as an invited artist in the classic “Giselle” by Adoph Adam, coreographed by Georges Garcia, which has its last performance tomorrow evening at the Teatro Nacional de São Carlos.

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