All the stars, the étoiles, have gone on dancing past pensionable age. Roughly speaking, that’s 45 for a dancer. For most people this is about the right age, but it changes for those who have charisma. Nureyev, Baryshnikov, Ferri, Savignano, Fracci: they all went on dancing because they had that something extra that makes our profession become an art and not just an athletic activity. That ability to be able to stimulate emotions that the average dancer doesn’t have.
I will continue to dance as long as I am able to communicate beauty and emotion. It’s difficult to say when I will stop but I hope that day will be as far away as possible. Today physical possibilities have changed; the artistic life of a dancer has increased.
It won’t be an easy decision to retire and it is not only mine to make. I feel responsable for many people: for the young dancers who see me as an example, and also for those who have believed in me and allowed me to have a role as an ambassador for Italian art and culture.
It’s certainly not easy to leave the stage. Dance is a passion that took me over when I was a child and it’s my priority every hour of the day, every day. Wanting to remain on stage, with all the emotions that you feel there, is obviously a factor in a decision, but I hope I’ll have the awareness and intelligence to know when it’s time to say stop.
Certainly, this is an advanced age for a normal dancer, but there are many examples to follow. For me, Baryshnikov working alongside Bob Wilson…
She is a benchmark for dance. She can dance when she’s eighty, fine, but if you are deciding on programming for a company and this all revolves around you, that is wrong. She often chose productions that were based more around her than around the young dancers. It was because of this that I said that she should leave them space.
So will he still be on stage at 50?
Why not? Ten years pass quickly.
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.