Milan is the sort of city which empties as soon as holidays arrive, and in Italy there are lots of holidays. The schools are shut and so are private dancing schools… except for that of Walter Venditti.
Everyone knows that Venditti will have a lesson, even when there's hardly a local around. He's 84, and teaches around sixteen lessons a week, demonstrating steps and creating fiendishly difficult and fast Cecchettian combinations.
Venditti joined the ballet company at La Scala in Milan just after the war, and stayed until 1976. During that time he worked alongside Massine and his idol, Balanchine, as well as dancing in productions with Nureyev, Fracci, Fonteyn, and Beriosova. His passion for Spanish dance led to a collaboration with Antonio Gades, and his love for tip-tap brought him to the Italian television screen in musical numbers as well as classical.
After an injury when he was 40, he was forced to leave his dancing career, and soon after formed his school, which is attended by everyone from the lawyer during her lunch break to Roberto Bolle.
Thank you, Walter Venditti, for your constancy, enthusiasm and love of dance and dancers.
See over 40 photos of M° Venditti at work on Flickr.
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.