Alice Bellini, who graduated from The Royal Ballet School last year, has won this year’s People’s Choice Award at the annual Emerging Artists competition held by English National Ballet to promote its new talent. The People’s Choice Award is voted for by audience members so represents how an artist communicates with the public.
This is my first season with English National Ballet and for me winning the People’s Choice Award is a great privilege. I’m trying to give everything to the public and all the work I’m putting in to it is paying off apparently. So I will definitely keep doing that!
Bellini, from Milan, started her training at La Scala.
Before coming to London I trained for five years at La Scala Ballet School from 2010 to 2015. I had a really good time there and very good training. All the teachers were amazing.
I worked for three years with Ms Loreta Alexandrescu and I learnt so much from her. She meant a lot to me and can never say thank you enough from what she gave me. Really tough and honest, she would always push you to get the best out of you! For the other two years I was with Ms Vera Karpenko – I really liked her too.
So why did you decide to leave?
When I was 17, in 2015, I decided that I wanted to try something else, like different styles for example. I also wanted to try new experiences abroad and London had always attracted me.
I won a place in The Royal Ballet School and I graduated there in 2017. I learnt so much during those two years.
What did The Royal Ballet School give you?
I had to learn and discover another kind of style: a different use of épaulement and use of the head and arms. I learnt how to move faster because they used to give us lots of very quick petit allegro to train our footwork.
I also began to understand the use of space and harmony in the upper body, and this is something that I always try to do and improve every single day now, even in class… dancing with the upper body and staying soft with arms while the legs are doing the exact opposite!
In my two years there I tried to take the most from the school and I feel that I learnt so, so much! I was with Ms Daria Klimentova and Rodrigo Castellanos for my second-year upper school, great teachers and also wonderful people! Then I had Ms Jay Jolly, Ms Nicola Tranah and Ms Jessica Clarke for my graduate year. Such good teachers and they would always push you to the maximum to get you to the highest point!
You also had the chance to observe and work with the main company?
I got the opportunity to work with The Royal Ballet Company during my graduate year, which gave me a preview of company life.
Being the other side of the road from the company was a student’s dream! We used to go, during our lunch break, to the other side of the Bridge to see the company rehearsals and if we were lucky the principal dancers too, like Marianela Nuñez, Osipova or Vadim Muntagirov! It was even better when, during our graduate year, we got to do class with the company!
For me it was amazing to see how the company members work. Super inspiring! And I used to watch and get the best things from each dancer and try to practice them to see if they would suit me or not… I still do it now!
And so on to English National Ballet…
I have always been attracted by ENB company, especially by its varied rep and the amazing dancers the company has. It’s a great company and I was delighted when Tamara Rojo offered me the contract. I didn’t think twice to sign it because I felt it was the right place for me to start. And I love it here!
So how has your first year with the company been?
I’ve enjoyed all the rep and productions we did this season. Especially, I feel grateful to have had the chance to dance the principal role ‘The Novice’ in Jerome Robbins’ The Cage and be in one of the pas de deux in Aszure Barton’s Fantastic Beings, during our triple bill Voices of America, which we performed in the spring at Sadler’s Wells in London. It has been a great experience for me and I truly enjoyed the whole process, especially working with amazing choreographers: Aszure Barton and Tobin Del Cuore for Fantastic Beings and Diana White for The Cage.
For the triple bill, I was also learning Approximate Sonata by William Forsythe. I didn’t get to dance it in the end, but for me just having the chance to work with such a legend was a great opportunity! He is a genius and a wonderful person! I have really enjoyed getting to dance new styles!
It sounds as though it has been a fun and rewarding first year?
It’s been great and everyone in the company is really nice!
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.