When did you start dancing?
When I was 4 my mother started to teach me dance; my grandfather, as all good Italians, was a lover of art, opera and ballet, so in my family there was always an artistic atmosphere. At 8 I told my mother I wanted to start studying ballet, and so I enrolled at the Escuela Nacional de Danza at the Teatro Colón in Argentina.
Why did you start dancing?
I loved moving to the rhythm of music, and doing that gave me a feeling of freedom.
Which dancer inspired you most as a child?
That's a difficult one… I saw Nureyev, Michaël Denard, and Baryshnikov, and maybe Vladimir Vassiliev was the one who inspired me the most.
Which dancer do you most admire?
Many, but perhaps I saw Vladimir the most on stage.
What's your favourite role?
I can't name just one, but I love the roles which are close to real life, in Romeo and Juliet, Manon, The Taming of the Shrew, Don Quixote etc.
What role have you never played but would like to?
What's your favourite ballet to watch?
Romeo and Juliet, Onegin, Manon, Don Quixote, Le Corsaire, works by Jiří Kylián, Martha Graham, Oscar Araiz etc
Who is your favourite choreographer?
Kenneth MacMillan, Kylián, Duato, Forsythe, Alvin Ailey, Graham, Limón, Mauro Bigonzetti, Araiz, Ana María Stekelman, Tharp, Jerome Robbins…
Who is your favourite writer?
Franz Kafka, Yasunari Kawabata, Stephen King, Jorge Luis Borges, Isabel Allende, Eduardo Galeano…
Who is your favourite theatre or cinema director?
Spielberg, Almodóvar, Carlos Saura, Juan J Campanella.
Who is your favourite actor?
Ricardo Darín, Julia Roberts, Alejandro Rey, Meryl Streep, Sophia Loren, Julio Chávez, Isabella Rossellini, Robert de Niro, Alfredo Alcón.
Who is your favourite singer?
Mercedes Sosa, Madonna, Sandra Mihanovich, Rosana, and many more, but often I just love the melody.
What is your favourite book?
Le Petit Prince.
What is your favourite film?
I love films like the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the Harry Potter films with their fake witchcraft, which can be… magical.
Which is your favourite city?
New York, Copenhagen, Pantelleria, Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Madrid, Athens, Dubai, Oman, and many more: each offers something something wonderful.
What do you like most about yourself?
Everything… hahaha! If you don't like yourself there's something wrong!
What do you dislike about yourself?
Again, hahaha… one has strengths and weaknesses and we must learn things and change as we go through life. It's difficult to say one thing, I'm generally happy with myself.
What are you proudest of?
Having succeeded in making ballet extremely popular in my country.
When and where were you happiest?
On stage dancing with my partner.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Yikes… there have been so many, hahaha!
What is your greatest fear?
Actually, I don't have one.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
To be more relaxed.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Having built my career as I chose, and made ballet popular, even taking it onto the football field.
What is your most treasured possession?
What is your greatest extravagance?
Having crossed the river for love, and going to live in another country, where I'm very happy. [Bocca crossed the Río Uruguay from Argentina to Uruguay where he is the Artistic Director of the National Ballet Company in Montevideo]
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
On what occasion do you lie?
Never. Maybe years ago for work.
If you hadn't been a dancer what would you have liked to be?
A figure skater… and I love art.
What is your most marked characteristic?
What quality do you most value in a friend?
Those who like champagne!
What quality do you most value in a colleague?
Which historical figure do you most admire?
Which living person do you most admire?
What do you most dislike?
What talent would you most like to have?
To be able to sing.
What's your idea of perfect happiness?
Be honest with yourself.
How would you like to die?
In my sleep.
What is your motto?
Learn from the past, live the present, and dream of the future.
Julio Bocca – a biography
Born in March 1967 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He began his studies at the age of four under the tutelage of his mother Nancy Bocca. He was accepted in 1974 as a member of The Institute Superior of Art at the Teatro Colón where his teachers included Gloria Kazda, José Parés and Ninel Julttyeva. He further improved his technique with Maggy Black, Lidia Segni and Wilhelm Burmann.
His professional career began in 1982 as a Principal Dancer with the Fundación Teresa Carrreño in Venezuela and The Teatro Municipal of Río de Janeiro in Brazil. In 1985, he won the Gold Medal at the Fifth International Ballet Competition in Moscow. He joined The American Ballet Theatre as Principal Dancer in 1986 and performed with them throughout 2006.
He was Guest Artist with Royal Ballet of London, Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow, Kirov Ballet in St. Petersburg, Alla Scala de Milan, La Zarzuela of Madrid, Royal Danish Ballet of Denmark, Opera Ballet in Oslo, Stuttgart Ballet, Opera Ballet in Paris, Tokyo Ballet, Ballet Nacional de Cuba, Ballet Teatro Municipal de Santiago de Chile, Ballet Nacional de Mexico, Ballet del Teatro Municipal General San Martín and Ballet del Teatro Colón, in Buenos Aires where special works were created for him. He danced with some of the most important partners such as Nina Ananiashvili, Eleonora Cassano, Alessandra Ferri, Cecilia Figaredo, Carla Fracci, Cynthia Gregory, Cynthia Harvey, Paloma Herrera, Susan Jaffe, Julie Kent, Natalia Makarova, Amanda McKerrow, Noelle Pontois, Raquel Rossetti and Cheryl Yeager.
In 1990, the Teatro Colón of Buenos Aires appoints him International Representative. The same year he founds his own company “Ballet Argentino” and toured throughout the world. Prima Ballerina Eleonora Cassano joins them in some of the tours.
He inaugurated his own Dance studio and took over Ballet Argentino direction in 1997. The following year he found Musical Theater School with choreographer and Director Ricky Pashkus.
His dancing was the show that represented Argentina during the celebrations for Millennium Day that took place on December 31st, 1999 and January 1st, 2000, marking the beginning of the new millennium in Ushuaia. The celebration was broadcasted simultaneously all over the world through over 60 networks.
After 20 years as Principal Dancer with the American Ballet Theatre, Julio Bocca danced his farewell performance on June 22, 2006 playing “Des Grieux” in MacMillan´s “Manon” with Alessandra Ferri
His prizes and nominations include among others: “Dancer of the Year” New York Times (1987); “Gino Tani Awards to the Arts”; Personality of the Year (1990) granted in France together with other celebrities such as Mother Teresa of Calcutta; Barocco sponsored by RAI; Dance Magazine (1992); Benois de la Danse (Bolshoi Theatre 1992); King Davis Award from the Argentine House of Jerusalem (1996), Hispanic American Max Award for the Performing Arts (2007) granted by SGAE in Bilbao, Spain; Homage for his career and collaboration to ballet world in “Equinoccio Cultural 2008” at the Embassy of Spain in Buenos Aires; Gold Medal on the Arts by Kennedy Center International Committee on the Arts for his achievements and dedication to cultural exchange between Argentina and the United States of America (2008); Homage by American Ballet Theatre during Latin Night (2008).
He danced his farewell on December 22, 2007 in front of 300,000 fans in Buenos Aires. In 2008 Julio Bocca was engaged to participate in the “Earth Day Special” carried out by National Geographic.
Julio Bocca is the Cultural Ambassador for the Mercosur and Member of the International Dance Council, CID Paris – Unesco- and participated in the Jury at the Benois de la Danse Prize 2008 Edition and Rome Prize in Italy.
He was named director of the Ballet Nacional Sodre by Uruguay's president José Mujica in March 2010.
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.
The warmth and wit you sense from this interview are embodied in Julio and never escaped his on stage persona either. Sending “un gran abrazo”.
One of the best interview I have read on your site! A great artist and a refined human being.
I have always experienced great emotion watching Julio dance: the thrill of his extraordinary technique, and the realism of his portrayal of his characters… Romeo and des Grieux are especial favorites. Thank you Julio for this interview!
PS I’m male, so not the ‘other’ A Ferri 🙂
Love your questions and answers. Seen Mr Bocca many times, always brilliant, exciting, emotional performances. Thank you.
I’m a great admirer of Bocca’s work and I’m very excited to see him dance in São Paulo next month!
One of the greatest dancers of the history !!!