At the end of June Alessandra Ferri will return to the stage after an absence of 7 years, and, at the age of 50, will restart her dancing career.
At Spoleto, where she is the artistic director of the dance component, she will dance in The Piano Upstairs, a new work for which she is also choreographer. The piece recounts the end of a marriage, and, although it has been in the pipeline for three years, it is what is happening to Ferri offstage right now. She is separated from her photographer husband Fabrizio Ferri, with whom she had two children, now aged 15 and 11. The Ferris remain friends.
Milan's Il Corriere della Sera newspaper sent Valeria Crippa to interview her.
A comeback at 50?
I won't be dancing Juliet, Manon or Giselle. I want to tackle new roles which are part of who Alessandra is today. I will play Eleonora Duse at La Scala in 2014 in a new ballet which will be created for me by John Neumeier. It was with his Dame aux camélias that I bid farewell to La Scala dancing with Roberto Bolle…
At the off-Broadway Signature Theatre, I'll play Léa, the 50-year-old lover of the 20-year-old Chéri (which will be played by ABT's Herman Cornejo) in a new work by Martha Clarke based on Colette's novel. I'm also working on a Broadway musical.
While she's surely not deliberately treading on the toes of Italian ballet diva Carla Fracci, it is certainly a coincidence that La Fracci is known as the ‘Duse della danza' and one of her last great roles was in the ballet Cherì that Roland Petit created for her. Incidentally, she was also slated to dance in a Broadway musical based on the film An American in Paris many years ago, though that's another story.
Rather like the Royal Ballet's Darcey Bussell, Ferri's unexpected retirement was explained by her family commitments and the desire to be a full-time mum. And, like Bussell, who returned to London from Australia after suffering from depression having abandoned her body, career and city, Ferri says,
My children have given me their full support… They prefer to see me happy, even if less present, rather than be unmotivated, waiting at home for them. They grew up between dressing rooms and photographic studios believing that my life, and that of Fabrizio, was like a party; but they also witnessed the dedication, work and concentration needed to achieve excellence.
And of The Piano Upstairs? A way to exorcise the separation from your husband?
The separation from Fabrizio was immensely painful. But when things in life change drastically, you need to overcome them with faith in life, and look ahead. I find strength by following the talent I was born with.
Love with a capital ‘L' never ends, it transforms, and if you recognise that it will continue to grow. That's what ties us together. I hope to set a good example for my daughters.
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.
I respect Ferri, love her dancing, but if she wanted to become a mother full-time, why didn’t she stop dancing when the children were born?
why do YOU think you have the right to decide what women should do? Leave her alone!
Alessandra must have stopped dancing before she was ready. There are thousands of reasons for this that we’re not privy to, but it seems that women too often feel guilty about following a career and, children or not, fall back on stereotype role models. We should not judge her choices, but a demotivated mother is not healthy for children; welcome back Alessandra!
I am thrilled that Alessandra Ferri will dance again. It is a new age of people dancing longer, restarting careers, there is so much for all of us to learn about ourselves and others. BRAVA!!!
Yes, in Cheri, I saw her dancing full of heart within five meters away. Can you imagine how marvelous and touchy experience it was…?
Great idea Alessandra…When you such an Artist,,you just can dance and give us emotions in any kind of roles right for your time and age…! 50 is nothing for a great Artist…!!
I married a ballerina less famous than Alessandra but very good in dancing and performing. We were in USA when we saw Alessandra at ABT playing Romeo and Juliet. She was amazing as always. I completed my PhD program and she her studies at Steps, Alvin Ailey school and get a certificate at Zine Roomete Technique.
We returned to Italy and build a family. After a while I saw her unhappy even if she never said a world. She found every possibility to be out of our home. Leaving in the morning and return late at night. It was clear that she wasn’t born to be just a mother (we have two children, 10 and 14 years old) or a wife. At the end this December she ask me to divorce. I knew that that day would be arrived sooner or later but I wasn’t ready to leave her and I am still suffering just because I know that our story could have been wonderful but maybe not for her, just for me and my childrens.
Finally she went back to dance , happy (perhaps) faith in life, and look ahead and find strength by following her talent she was born with. I really hope that what Alessandra said could be true also for us: “Love with a capital ‘L’ never ends, it transforms, and if you recognise that it will continue to grow. That’s what ties us together. I hope to set a good example for my daughters.”
Wishing Ballerina Alesandra Ferri every happiness as she resumes her Dance career. Having followed Ms.Ferri’s career, I will look forward to seeing her develop new roles. I am dancing at 51 years old after being a Special Education Teacher for 24 years. To live fully and chase a dream is a great gift. Hopefully her family will share in her work. Food luck Ms. Ferri!!!
This article is several years old. I saw footage of Alessandra rehearshing, “Woolf Works,” recently, and she looks marvelous! Kudos to her! And I’m sorry she and her husband have separated. That is sad.
I am sorry to learn that Mrs Ferri and her husband divorced. The fact is, she spent her entire life in the ballet studio and onstage. Obviously, because she had never developed any other resources, she felt at loose ends when just left in the home waiting for her children and husband to return. I takes real creativity and resolve to find direction and purpose in life when you’ve spent all your time being directed by something or someone else. I’m sorry that she couldn’t find a sense of the meaning to her life on earth in addition to dance. Dance is important, yes, to human beings and for a short time. But we have been put here on earth for a reason, and it has to do with our souls and the souls of the lives to whom we are important. In the ballet world, Mrs Ferri has distinguished herself as one of the best dancers. In her children’s lives she is the most important woman in the world, one no one else can replace: their mother. It should be true for her role as her husband’s wife … but that is such a throwaway today. Wives are replaced as easily as inanimate objects. I wish Mrs Ferri the best and hope she finds what she’s looking for.
Very difficult to be a mother, wife when you are a dancer. Dancers spend so much time onstage, rehearsing and doing all the many things a professional dancer needs. It is practically impossible to combine the two careers. Either you are a dancer or a wife. People have to choose between receiving the kudos of fans or receiving just one simple kiss at home and do the dishes. Dancers like Ms. Ferri were born to dance, it is very difficult to say this dancer ought to cut her or his career. Once you have been infected with the “dance worm” it is impossible to be a simple person. I just hope that whatever road she takes she could be happy and contented with her life. The choice is hers.
Great, welcome back Alessandra! She is always more a beauty! I belief she is one this ballerinas who can dance the late works for Maja “Leda” for example and other interesting ballets! And new works of course!