Roberto Bolle is a name you are sure to have come across. He is an internationally acclaimed professional ballet dancer. I just attended his latest show, BalletNow at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in downtown Los Angeles. Bolle directed the show along with Argentinian performer Herman Cornejo.
Roberto's passion for dance began at a very young age. He started his studies at a local school in the Piedmont region of Italy before going on to study at the acclaimed La Scala Ballet School in Milan. It was a meeting with Rudolf Nureyev when he was 15 that sparked the beginning of his career on stage.
At the age of 20, Bolle appeared on stage as Romeo in Romeo & Juliet. He was then promoted to Principle by Elisabetta Terabust which led to a huge international career for him.
Roberto has performed solos for major names including Pope John Paul II and Queen Elizabeth. He also performed a long solo at the Winter Olympic Games in his hometown of Piedmont in 2006.
No stranger to the fashion industry, Bolle performed at the Dolce & Gabbana Spring 2015 show in Milan and has also been shot by popular American photographer Bruce Weber. He regularly appears on the glossy pages of influential fashion magazines such as Vogue Paris, GQ and Essential Homme.
It's clear that Roberto has a very kind heart as he uses his fame to highlight children's issues and works regularly with UNICEF in many different countries. He says that he has a moral to defend children's rights because he has received so much in life. He has been on philanthropic missions to Africa many times to give back to the community.
It was my first time seeing Roberto perform when I attended BalletNow and I have had his solo performances on my mind since. I grew up dancing and watching Bolle's show brought my past back to me. The energy, determination, focus, movement and strength required and the creativity involved in the direction and choreography of the show - it was mesmerising. I'm lucky enough to have the opportunity to talk with Roberto about his past, present and future.
Tell me about your journey into your career in ballet.
At seven years old I started training in a local ballet school close to my hometown. Then at eleven years old, I joined the Ballet School at Teatro alla Scala. In 1996 I was promoted Principal Dancer of La Scala Ballet Company and, in 2004, Etoile of the Theatre. I have danced as a guest with the major Companies all over the World and since 2009 I have been Principal with ABT.
What’s a typical day for you? Your schedule when you’re performing.
I take class at 10.00 and I rehearse for 5/6 hours, then I do one hour of stretching. If there is a show in the evening, I take a rest in the afternoon and I do some warm up before the show.
You have travelled extensively throughout your ballet career, what’s your favourite country and why? What were you performing while there?
I've been very lucky having the possibility to travel so much throughout my career. I love visiting new places and working in different countries. Now I have two bases: La Scala in Milano and ABT in NYC but I love going to Japan to perform, as well as Paris and London. It's very hard to choose only one place.
I danced competitively when I was younger and understand the constant pressure. How do you motivate yourself?
The pressure is very high but I also have very high motivations: performing at major theatres around the world, working with greatest artists such as Bob Wilson, Greenaway, Weber, bringing my Gala Roberto Bolle and Friends in prestigious locations, being a Unicef Ambassador, and beyond everything, being an example for many kids who want to start a ballet career.
What advice do you have for aspiring dancers and artists?
You have to be prepared to work hard every day, to sacrifice yourself and your life. There are no shortcuts to reach the top level. And what is very important is to start in a good school. The way you prepare and train your body when you are young is extremely important because it's the base on which you'll build all along your career.
If you'd like to see more of Roberto, you'll be as excited as I am to buy his luxurious new book called A Voyage Into Beauty. The photographic volume brings together the works of Fabrizio Ferri, Luciano Romano, Bob Wilson & Giovanni Puglisi and is Bolle's photographic love letter to Italy.
Thank you Roberto!