The children were on a break from their school, the Lycée français in Rome, so we went to our house on Ibiza, and now we’re blocked here. We haven’t been out for three weeks. It’s a drama here too.
And that’s how the étoile of the Paris Opera Ballet and director of the Rome Opera Ballet Eleonora Abbagnato finds herself in isolation on the Spanish island of Ibiza in the time of the coronavirus.
My commitments as mother, wife and dancer map out my days here in Ibiza: I do the shopping, I cook, I do housework and, of course, I keep up my training! Everyone joins in, so we feel like a large clan.
Abbagnato is on the island with her husband, the ex-footballer Federico Balzaretti, their children Julia and Gabriel, and his two children from a previous relationship.
I imagine a Rome now empty and silent… I miss it a lot. I’m worried – no one expected this disease to be so contagious and to go on for so long. Hopefully, a cure will be found soon, a vaccine.
Unfortunately [my mother] has been ill for more than a year and although she is much better now because of the therapy she’s been receiving, in her condition the virus is even more dangerous.
This situation is disastrous for us artists too, but we’ll pull through! My dancers [in Rome] have progressed so well recently that I hope they’ll come back stronger than before – determined and energetic. We hope to get going again as soon as possible. I’m confident; I try not to think about the worst. We often organise short conference calls to talk and support each other. My dancers are like my children – they need to be supervised continually.
These days I’m giving lessons on Instagram and Facebook. Everyone can join in, and I’m getting a lot of positive comments. It makes you understand how dance and the desire to train are a need that you can not give up. Also, it shows how easy it is to overcome being apart and the lack of adequate space.
Abbagnato’s farewell to the company in Paris has been put off twice:
First for the strikes, in December. Now the virus. [It was rescheduled for 18 May] It will mean that I will dance at the Opera even after I’m 42, despite this being the age when dancers retire in France. With the director Paris Opera Ballet, we will see when it’s possible and how to organise my soirée d’adieux.
We will have to bring the general public back to the theatre, but it will be different from before all of this. It’s a challenge, but I’m not scared. The important thing is to approach it with lots of positivity. I would like to bring a new work to Rome, something that only we can have the rights to perform.
Eleonora Abbagnato was speaking to the Corriere della Sera newspaper