Roberto Bolle’s television specials Danza con me (Dance with Me) which over the last couple of years have welcomed in the New Year with their screenings on 1 January on Italy’s main TV channel, RAI1, mix classical dancers – Anna Tsygankova, Silvia Azzoni, and Virna Toppi this year – with pop stars, actors, comics, such as Roberto Benigni and Andrea Bocelli for the third edition on 1 January 2020. One thing that they all do is dance, or participate in something related to dance.
“I enjoy doing television, it’s very stimulating as well as being a challenge: it’s something completely different from what I’m used to doing,” says Roberto Bolle.
“I think I’ve gained more insight, fresh ways of seeing things, and also a new awareness so that now I have another outlook and more conviction about what we’re doing. [Through this programme] I’ve entered Italian homes in a major way, which before wasn’t possible for me. When we put together the first episode, there was a lot of anxiety because it was unknown territory, but from the second edition, after having had so many positive comments and a sizeable TV audience, I was clearer about want I wanted to do and ready to be more daring. I know that the messages I want to send will be understood if they are coherent.
“There will be two very topical moments: one dedicated to environmental issues and the problem of plastic, and the other to compassion. We will try to make dance stimulate empathy, aiming to encourage the viewer to break with old habits, and to not remain indifferent when confronted by the images of suffering that we constantly see.
“I’m convinced that the language of dance reaches everyone, even those who do not know anything about it – they manage to be caught up by the emotion, as well as the beauty, of dance. On television, we have a very big audience and the confidence that I have now comes from the positive feedback I have had from those people, which is amazing, especially when you think that it is not a ballet crowd, accustomed to dance. Nevertheless, they have enjoyed the programme and they praise it.
“I know I have changed. I am more confident now, not just as an artist but also as a person. I have had to confront situations that are not natural for me, like doing sketches with actors and singers, having to be serious or light-hearted, funny or amused, in short having to be an actor with words and not with the body. It was something which I had never done and never wanted to do. It has been a great challenge but also difficult. Though looking at what I’ve done, I can see that with each new challenge I take another step ahead. Now I think I interact differently with people, and so even this aspect of me has changed. I am able to be more natural because I have a new attitude, even with the use of words, which is certainly not my forte. I think it always helps to explore unfamiliar worlds.”
Roberto Bolle was talking to the Corriere della Sera’s ‘Sette’ magazine and Italian Vanity Fair.
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.