There are many, many Italian dancers scattered around companies throughout the world. Some are in the corps de ballet, others are principal dancers, but all continue the tradition that made Italian dancers some of the most famous of all. Even leaving the men aside, we have Pierina Legnani (noted as ‘maybe' being the first to perform 32 fouetté turns) who was a prima ballerina assoluta at the Mariinsky; Giuseppina Bozzacchi who created the role of Coppélia for the Paris Opera Ballet when she was 16; Fanny Cerrito and Carlotta Grisi (together with Marie Taglioni – herself half Italian – and Lucile Grahn) who created the roles in Perrot's Pas de Quatre in London; Virginia Zucchi (for whom Petipa created La Esmeralda pas de six), Carlotta Zambelli (the star of the Paris Opera Ballet for three decades), and more recent exports: Fracci, Ferri, Galeazzi, Durante, Savignano, Abbagnato and others who have become principal ballerinas with major international companies.
It is Paris Opera Ballet's Eleonora Abbagnato (also director of the Rome Opera Ballet company) who heads the bill of Daniele Cipriani's latest starry gala, this time for the 62nd edition of the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, a town which has seen many of the world's most famous dancers pass through over the past half-century.
The programme, curated by Cipriani, ranges from the great classical repertoire to pieces by important contemporary choreographers, as well as original creations by young Italian dance makers.
Joining Abbagnato in the line-up are Davide Dato, from Biella, who since 2016 has been First Soloist with the Vienna State Ballet; Gabriele Frola, from Aosta, who became principal dancer of the National Ballet of Canada and, at the same time, of the English National Ballet in 2018; and Rachele Buriassi, a soloist at Boston Ballet.
There is also 18-year-old Davide Riccardo, from Messina, who graduated from the School of American Ballet and, since August 2018, has become the first Italian at the New York City Ballet (and will present Jerome Robbins's Andantino as a tribute to the NYCB choreographer who also had links with Spoleto); as well as six Italian dancers from the Stuttgart Ballet: Fabio Adorisio, Daniele Silingardi, Alessandro Giaquinto, Matteo Miccini, Vittoria Girelli and Elisa Ghisalberti.
Coincidentally, the gala – on Sunday 30 June – coincides exactly with the tenth anniversary of the death of Pina Bausch, and Damiano Ottavio Bigi, who dances with the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch in Germany, will present his own creation dedicated to the great choreographer and interpreter.
Contemporary choreographers are represented by Claudio Cangialosi, from the Vlaanderen Opera Ballet, who will dance a piece by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, and Sasha Riva and Simone Repele, formerly at John Neumeier´s Hamburg Ballet and now at the Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève, who will perform a work by Marco Goecke.
There are also national premieres by young Italian authors whose talent has been acknowledged abroad: Alessandro Giaquinto and Fabio Adorisio, of the Stuttgart Ballet, present two creations, especially for the Spoleto Festival, danced by the six Italian dancers from the same company. Tommaso Beneventi from the Royal Swedish Ballet will dance with Buriassi (together with Giacomo Castellana of the Rome Opera Ballet) in a world premiere by Francesco Ventriglia on the music of Saint-Saëns' Danse Macabre.
Among the (non-Italian) guest artists who complete the lineup are Nikisha Fogo and Liudmila Konovalova from the Vienna State Opera who will dance the Le Corsaire pas de deux along with the young dancer from La Scala, Mattia Semperboni, who set the stage alight in Milan recently as the slave. There's also Friedmann Vogel from Stuttgart, Megan LeCrone from the New York City Ballet, Katja Khaniukova from English National Ballet and Nancy Osbaldeston from the Royal Ballet of Flanders.
Not only is there a fancy lineup – and quite unique – but the gala will be performed in the Piazza del Duomo with the stage backdrop being Spoleto's stunning cathedral.
Eleonora Abbagnato con le Stelle italiane nel mondo – Sunday 30 June at 21.30.
Some tickets are still available: Festival Di Spoleto – Abbagnato.
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.