Another day, another cover. After the Chi magazine article a couple of days ago comes a 7-page spread in the equally popular men's magazine Sportweek, the weekly insert of the sports daily La Gazzetta della Sport. Alessia Cruciani goes for a different tack with her questions, her terminology all coming from the world of football. It works well.
Athletes are famous for taking great care over their look. Would you go on stage with a crest like Beckham?
Once I shaved my hair very short, but I couldn't do more than that for professionalism. Some dancers have tattoos.
That they then cover on stage?
That they then don't cover on stage, though they should. A colleague has thirteen!
Have you ever been booed?
It's never happened. So far.
Have you ever missed a ‘penalty'?
More than once… In Helsinki during Swan Lake I had to jump, turning in the air. I lost my point of reference, put my foot down badly and landed flat on my face!
Are there hard-core fans in the theatre?
Certainly football fans are very passionate, for them it's a belief, a religion. In the theatre there isn't the defiant challenge that you get in football, we're not one against the other. Though, right from the beginning, when I dance at La Scala there's always been a kind of stadium atmosphere for my shows.
In Italy, and abroad, touring with Bolle & Friends to open-air theatres has created an enthusiasm very different to that you normally see for ballet. My ‘ultras' – the Bollerini who have been following me for over 10 years – have even taken banners into La Scala, and they wave small lights. I like it, it makes the theatre more lively. Anyway, the audiences are changing, they're younger.
After various questions about how dancers are paid much less than footballers, how sponsors can't put their logos on ballet costumes and sets, and an extraordinary story of a Japanese fan who walked out of her job so that she could wait outside the theatre each day to see Bolle, the interviewer asks him if he has seen football, and if footballers come to the ballet.
I've been only once, to see Milan-Juventus at San Siro. Beckham was playing, and a few days later he came with Victoria to see me dance at La Scala. He liked it a lot. I think he enjoyed the ballet more than I enjoyed football. The ballet was Apollo, so very athletic. Shevchenko came to see me in London.
Roberto Bolle will be taking his Bolle & Friends to the Verona Arena on July 23. The €160 tickets for the best seats are sold out, and only some €40 unnumbered places (to sit on the marble steps) are left. So maybe San Siro is the next stop?
To dance in a stadium would be nice, certainly! I'm thinking about it. It's an ambitious project, but I'd like to do it. It needs someone who believes in it to support the event.
The football sponsors?
He doesn't answer the question, just smiles and sighs.
Photos for the article are by Efrem Raimondi
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.