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.