Dancing around the world with Alessandro Audisio
Alessandro Audisio, a Roman dancer, is a veritable globetrotter. He has travelled half the world, including countries like England, Italy, France, Rumania, Hungary, USA and, now, Spain. He has has danced such iconic pieces as Romeo and Juliet, Alice in Wonderland, The Nutcracker, The Sleeping Beauty, Pinocchio and Don Quijote (and different versions of that last one). But, after passing through different schools and companies, he citsEn Sol (Jérôme Robbins) and Night Creatures(Alvin Ailey) as his favourite contemporary pieces.
You start your training in your birth town of Rome and, at just 16, you go to London to study at the Royal Ballet School. What was that change like for you? Did you notice much difference between the Italian and English way of teaching?
It was an important change for me; both professionally and on a personal level . Looking back, I am now aware I had enough courage to leave home to live in a foreign country without knowing the language. But the only thing I remember at the time is the excitement and enthusiasm of starting a new adventure. To be honest, as it was one of the best schools in the world, I didn’t have to think about it much.
As regards the teaching styles, I noticed a big difference. I think the Royal Ballet School gave me a much more complete and intense training, with classes in classical and contemporary dance,pas de deux, Pilates and muscle strengthening. What’s more, the training also included classes in choreographic studies, physiotherapy, nutrition and the history of dance. They later offered me a scholarship for a summer course and that made me fall in love with the school and the city.
For one so young, you’ve seen a lot of the world. You’ve been to Birmingham, Bucharest, France and Hungary. What would you highlight as regards ballet teaching in each country?
Yes, you’re right. I’ve travelled a lot over the past years and all those experiences have been unique and unforgettable; I would not change them for anything in the world because they have made me the person I am today. I think the reason for changing so much is due to my personality. I am the kind of person who is always looking for motivation but, above all, who really wants to experience, try out, feel, see and live new sensations, both in and outside the world of dance.
The biggest difference I noticed was that, in the East European countries, classical ballet traditions are deeply rooted. There, classical ballet is deeply loved and appreciated by the public and the Russian influence is so apparent. But then in France, I had the chance to take on more neoclassical pieces and was able to appreciate the more elegant and refined side of dance, though perhaps it a little more restrained in its sense of expression.
If you had to go back to one of them, which one would you choose? What does dancing in companies in such different countries mean to you?
I’ve never thought of going backwards. I wouldn’t like that; not because they were not nice experiences—as I told you, they are all part of me and have helped me grow as an artist and a person. Yet, I’m a very curious person, and so I like to look forward to try to discover what the future may have in store for me. I’m not closed minded to anything. I like to keep moving forward. But maybe an experience in USA.
In 2019, you joined the CND, coinciding with the arrival of our new director, Joaquín De Luz. What was your reception like? Did you notice the freshness of new beginnings in the atmosphere?
Yes, I noticed a freshness in the air; especially as it was also a new beginning for me. I can honestly say you could actually feel the excitement in the air throughout the company. For me, it was thrilling to be part of this new beginning.
Let’s focus on the pieces. You’ve danced such iconic productions as The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Don Quijote and Pinocchio, to mention just a few. What’s it like to dance a piece the public knows so well? Do you prefer to dance well-known pieces or pieces that are new to the audience?
I’ve always been a great lover of classical ballet. Ever since I was young, I’ve had the chance to dance them all, as a student and then as a professional. Dancing them has been a dream come true to me. But after passing through different companies, I have really appreciated, and enjoyed more, dancing modern pieces, such as Jérôme Robbins’ En Sol and Alvin Ailey’s Night Creatures.
You have danced Don Quijote,specifically, twice: once with the National Opera of Bucharest and once with the Rome Opera Theatre. What was it like to dance such Spanish pieces with foreign companies? How did each one approach the piece? Would you like to dance it with the CND?
My first shot at Don Quijote was actually at the school of the Rome Opera Theatre, as a student. I was lucky enough to work with two Cuban teachers, Pablo Morer and Ofelia González, and noticed quite a Spanish stamp in terms of style, while the technique had a strong Cuban influence, of course. As well as some other extracts, I got the chance to dance the role of Basilio, as I had to substitute another dancer who suffered a last-minute injury.
In Bucharest, despite a shallower preparation of the piece, the Russian influence was very clear. I dance the seguidilla with them, as well as the bullfighters’ part. Absolutely I would like to dance it with the CND; perhaps a new version of it.
Of all the choreographies you have danced, is there one you are particularly fond of?
I have something of a list. In general I really love Balanchine’s choreographies and it was such a great experience for me to dance pieces like Allegro Brillante or Theme and Variations, as well as working with one of his muses, Patricia Neary. I also really enjoyed dancing Night Creatures (with a more jazzy style) and En Sol. And finally, how could I forget Sinfonietta by Jirí Kylián? Dancing that piece was both thrilling and stressful because it was an one of the early important parts I danced for the company.
The training and routines you dancers do is really strict and disciplined. Could you tell us what a day in the life of a dancer is like?
Well, look, things can change from way day to the next. The first thing I do is listen to my body. On the days when I feel more tense and contracted, I do stretching before starting the class. If I see my body isn’t responding, I activate it with some glutes, abdominals and feet exercises. Then, the classical classes start and, after a short break, we have rehearsals through the afternoon. You can work on the same ballet the whole day but there are also days when we rehearse different pieces, one after the other. Doing that is a little bit more complex, as you have to adapt your body to move in a different way as you go from one style to the next. It’s a bit harder.
I imagine you also have to be strict with diet. Is there anything in particular you have had to give up eating and was it tough doing so?
I try to limit junk food but, of course, I allow myself the odd deadly sin, like a good dessert, a pizza or a tipple at a terrace café, for instance. And for a short while now I’ve been limiting my lactose and gluten intake because I’ve discovered I’m quite intolerant, though I don’t hold to a particular diet.
As today is your birthday, an exception is called for. Your favorite cake or birthday food?
My favorite dessert is tiramisu, especially my mum’s. Whenever I get the chance to celebrate it with my family in Italy, I just know that it will be there waiting for me to blow the candles out.
ALESSANDRO AUDISIO – CORPS DE BALLET CND
Interview by: Sandra Cadenas