Your tour started in the gardens of the Royal Palace in Turin. How was this for you?
I am doing some gala evenings along with Alessandra Ferri with pas de deux selections from classic and modern pieces. This allows the audience to better see the talents of the lead dancers. They are all couples from the ballet companies in Hamburg, London, Paris, and Amsterdam.
Are you sad that Alessandra Ferri is retiring?
I am very sad because we have an artistic bond and a rare complicity between artists. She is very good, and it’s a pity that she’s leaving in such splendid shape. But I admire her and appreciate her precisely because she’s leaving the stage at her peak. She wants to leave an indelible memory of herself.
How did it feel being in Turin again after the inaugural ceremony of the Olympics?
I have to say that I was very happy. The Olympics was a truly one-of-a-kind and unforgettable experience, an emotion I will never forget.
Is dancing in royal gardens, amphitheatres, or stadiums different than dancing in a theatre?
Yes. It is very different. It is much more exciting. Open-air theatres or gorgeous natural architectural settings have a harmony that goes well with the harmony of dance, and for dancers, these places have a greater energy than that of the theatre.
Even if the theatres you frequent are the Mariinsky, La Scala, or the Royal Opera House?
Of course the historic theatres have a different magic than modern ones, and they help the artist with his art.
Which theatre feels most like yours?
Without a doubt, La Scala. I grew up there. Though I’ve danced in many great theatres, I have a certain affection for La Scala.
London at the Royal Ballet and then I will do Swan Lake at La Scala in December. Last month I debuted at the Metropolitan with a reception that exceeded expectations.
Who were your models as dancers?
I took inspiration from various artists, such as Nureyev and Baryshnikov. I took different teachings from each one.
Who was the biggest “maestro” for you?
I would have liked to have worked with Nureyev and Baryshnikov, but it wasn’t possible. I met Nureyev when I was fifteen years old, but unfortunately, I was too young and he died shortly thereafter.
What does it mean to be a dancer?
It means being an artist who interprets roles and actions with his body. You experience the emotions and the music in your body, which is like an instrument that communicates with the audience.
How do you stay in shape?
I train five or six hours per day. At times it is very difficult.
Is there a lot of narcissism?
Yes. There is narcissism. Because you are constantly in front of a mirror, but it’s a tool for our work, and I don’t think that dancers are much more narcissistic than anyone else.
You are from Casale Monferrato. What kind of relationship do you have with the Piedmont region?
Actually I’ve become a bit Milanese, but I’m proud of my roots. Piedmont is an amazing place. I feel at home in Milan, but it helps to have lived in the countryside and to have known a different way of seeing things and people.
Do you feel like a citizen of the world today?
Yes. I have no problem adjusting in the cities where I go. I just felt wonderfully at home in New York for a month, and then I spent two weeks in Hamburg. Every place enriches me in a different way.
Do you travel light?
I would like to, but I have a very large suitcase only for dance, training, shows, and all the rest. At least two suitcases if all goes well.
Is it possible for you to have a normal life outside of dancing?
No. Dance is my passion, and I live according to this.
Are politics and sport parts of your life?
Certainly. Outside of dance, I have been a UNICEF ambassador for eight years working on causes having to do with childhood.
Do you work every day?
Always. I go on holiday once a year. I go to the sea. I swim, I go scuba diving, and I relax.
After Alessandra Ferri’s retirement, have you already decided who will be your next dance partner?
There are many good ballerinas, but there is no other great, complete artist like her.
When did you realise you had this talent?
Dance was a passion of mine from the time I was a child. When I entered La Scala, I realised that it could become my future.
When will you stop?
Difficult question. I don’t know. It depends on my body and my ability to stay in shape.
Do you pay a lot of attention to your health?
Yes. Of course. I try to take care of my body, which is my instrument, so that it is in the best physical shape possible.
Has the world of ballet changed from the times of the Russian ballet dancers?
Yes, very much. The aesthetic and athletic abilities of dancers have increased quite a lot. And ballet dancers are closer to gymnasts compared to ballet dancers from the last century.
22nd July, 2007