To celebrate 200th Anniversary of the formation of the Ballet School at Milan's Teatro alla Scala, the Academy, which runs the school, threw a Black and White Ball with three exceptional guests: dancers Carla Fracci, Luciana Savignano and Svetlana Zakharova.
The event was held in the ex-ice rink, the Palazzo del Ghiaccio, a 1920s Liberty structure. Almost 500 people (paying €200 for their ticket) attended the evening, which was to not only celebrate the anniversary, but to raise money for a new building which will allow students who live far from Milan to stay in the city during the week.
The school's ballet students presented extracts from Paquita and Béjart's Gaîté parisienne, a 60-piece orchestra mixed jazz standards with ballet scores, and fifty tables with names such a ‘Giselle' (where Carla Fracci was seated, obviously) and ‘Jeune Homme', let all the guests eat and sip their spumante in comfort.
During the evening, television host Fabio Fazio presented the three divas with awards for their careers. Savignano thanked choreographer Mario Pistoni who spotted the talent in this long skinny girl with wide shoulders and in 1968 cast her in his Mandarino Meraviglioso. Four years later she became a principal at La Scala, going on to collaborate extensively with Maurice Béjart who created Leda e il Cigno for her and Ce que l'amour me dit with Jorge Donn.
Zakharova recalled her audition to join the school in Kiev. She had no music, but had devised a choreography to a famous popular song, so the commission from behind its desk sang the song to accompany her audition. She was admitted.
Dancing followed of the less classical type: bankers danced with ballet students, Berlusconi's daughter Marina danced with gossip editor Alfonso Signorini, Carla Fracci danced with the director of the Academy.
Here's to the next 200 years.
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.