Roberto Bolle is recording 16 “OnDance le Masterclass” episodes for an online subscription service TimVision. The four classical classes mark his debut as a teacher.
I’m very happy with this role, which I’ve never done before, mainly for the lack of time, but I’ve always been fascinated by teaching. I told myself: ‘I will do it when I stop dancing’.
Like everyone else [with the pandemic] my life changed. From a very young age I was used to travelling and having many commitments, with everything arranged well in advance. Then everything stopped. I’ve always been unable to stay away from the dance studio for more than 48 hours because I feel the call, it’s a physical need. So it’s been an upheaval, but maybe with this project, we have another way to return to how things were.
I will mature and improve [as a teacher] as this was my first experience, but I liked doing it and I have always loved working with talented young people. I put all my experience into it… well maybe not all: I still have some in reserve.
I feel [that I’m a reference for some young dancers]. I see how they observe me, how they try to learn the details. I find it very beautiful, and so I like to share the secrets that time has taught me.
Wilhelm Burmann really inspired me with his classes in America. It was so different from the Russian school, more classical. Patricia Ruanne, though, terrified me when she was ballet director [at La Scala]. She made me really uncomfortable and I even cried in the rehearsal room once.
Though I have to say, she forced me to react, to find the strength and motivation inside me to overcome the difficulties she put me through. In hindsight, even the teachers you don’t like, who are very strict, are important. But so are the ones you love. They make you even more passionate about dance.
[I belong to] the second type. I’m certainly not the one who arrives with a whip and makes the dancers cry. Some things you couldn’t get away with today: there were teachers who threw chairs at their students as they danced.
[This project] is another way of trying to bring people closer to dance. For years, I have aimed to bring as many people as possible into this wonderful world. The theatre can no longer continue without opening up.
He talks about a popular TV talent show for dancers and singers in Italy called Amici. As is the wont of many Italian television formats, the programme lasts several hours, so although it’s called ‘Friends’ much filler time is given over to arguments between the teachers, and between teachers and their students. There is a great deal of heckling and cheering from the TV audience.
I believe that talent shows are good for dance, as it opens it up to a wider public. The important thing is that they are done well and I appreciate it when I can these shows are doing their job and we are shown good dance. I don’t like it when there’s bickering or controversy… and I don’t like it when the students attack the teachers, even insulting them: it’s not educational.
Roberto Bolle was talking with Il Corriere della Sera’s Chiara Maffioletti
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.