The boat may not be sinking, but this season finds four members of the ballet company at Milan's La Scala moving elsewhere, and two, following in the footsteps of Kobborg and Cojocaru, made it a last minute announcement.
Soloist Francesca Podini has left for Jean-Christophe Maillot's company in Monte Carlo. She is a dancer with a unique physique and probably will find more opportunities with this company. Sofia Rosolini, a beautiful dancer who had the audience flipping through their programmes to discover her name after a dazzling appearance in Rubies a couple of seasons ago, has been snapped up by the Paris Opera Ballet. Like so many dancers at La Scala, she has little chance to dance on stage, as they have far fewer performances in comparison with other major companies. The decision to leave involves abandoning a fixed post and pension, to be able to have the possibility to dance while still in peak form. Rosolini was, surprisingly, on a seasonal contract, and maybe the decision was easier for her to make. Certainly not so for principal dancers Petra Conti and Eris Nezha, who were married at the end of August, and leave a job-for-life and principal roles in one of the most beautiful theatres in the world.
They are both heading off to Boston Ballet; a late decision which has left company director, Makhar Vaziev, fuming. The reality of their situation however, is that with only six to eight performances of each ballet, and with guest dancers like Svetlana Zakharova, Natalia Osipova, Ivan Vasiliev, Roberto Bolle and others, it might leave Conti and Nezha with the possibility of only one or two performances of a role. La Scala's 2013-2014 season has six ballet programmes… do the math!
Of the seven Giselles at La Scala in April, Zakharova and Bolle got three, Conti and Nezha got two. Aurélie Dupont and Hervé Moreau danced Sasha Waltz's Roméo et Juliette three times, Conti and Nezha twice. If you consider that Boston performs Nutcracker more than forty times during December alone, and other titles have between nine and twelve performances, it is easy to see the attraction. You're only young once.
So ballet ping-pong continues with stars bouncing around from company to company like never before. If the lesser known names are uprooting too, then maybe we're seeing the beginning of ballet globalisation which may change the artform as we know it. Precise company styles, which even now are becoming blurred, may be a thing of the past.
Photo: La Scala Principals Eris Nezha and Petra Conti on their wedding day.
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.
All I can say is good for them! All fabulous dancers who deserve to be, and should be, dancing on stage and although it is a huge pity for regular La Scala visitors, not one of us can blame them. It is a massive loss for the company and just highlights how ridiculously rare performances of one of the world’s greatest ballet companies are. In the meantime, until the powers that be wake up and Italy lifts it head out of a recession, we will just have to trek the globe in order to see some of our best dancers dance….