Alessandra Ferri brings Martha Clarke’s Chéri to the Ravenna Festival in two weeks, with the same cast that accompanied her for the piece’s début at The Signature Theatre in New York: ABT’s Herman Cornejo and actress Amy Irving. Although Charles Isherwood for The New York Times said that Clarke’s choreography “sometimes falls into patterns of swooning sameness”, of Ferri and Cornejo he had only praise: “both are expressive dancers who can convey nuances of feeling through subtle gestures, a talent not always cultivated (or required) in classical ballet.”
Chéri was one of the first of several projects that marked Ferri’s return to the stage at 50, after a seven-year absence. Colette’s story recounts the six-year relationship between 19 year-old Cherì’ and Léa, a woman 24 years his senior.
It’s a wonderful opportunity for a woman of my age. As Léa I can explore the eroticism of a woman who has the same age as me in a realistic way. It was an intimate process: some audience members in New York felt uncomfortable being almost in the same bedroom as the two lovers.
With Il Corriere della Sera‘s Valeria Crippa, Ferri talked about her other upcoming projects. She will leave her position as dance consultant for the Spoleto Festival, which was where she made her comeback last year,
I have done all that I can. I would have liked to have created more new works but there isn’t the possibility.
However, elsewhere choreographers seem to be queuing up to work with her. The new creation based on the life of Italian acting legend Eleonora Duse with John Neumeier will now go ahead in Hamburg, not at La Scala as previously announced; and in 2015 she will play Virginia Woolf in Wayne McGregor’s new work for The Royal Ballet called Woolf Works, based on Orlando, The Waves and Mrs Dalloway.
There are also rumours that she’ll be offered the top job at La Scala’s ballet company, a position that would necessitate her leaving her home in New York and returning to her home town.
I would weigh up such a proposal with care. I’d never refuse an offer a priori; let alone now!
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.