Alessandra Ferri at Excelsior Studios, London on February 2021. Photo BY Amber Hunt
People

SPECIAL MOMENTS: ALESSANDRA FERRI

I’ll start with the ‘age’ subject, because I know it’s going to come up.

I’m 58, going on 59! I’m actually rather amused by the idea because obviously I never expected it, to be dancing at this age. It’s not that I look to the future, I never really have, but every day it’s like a lovely surprise that I can still do it and still enjoy it. I’m not afraid of saying my age – in fact I think it should be said. We should all stop worrying about it. I think a lot of it is in our heads. We have been brought up to think about age but times have changed. Why should we put ourselves in compartments, thinking when I’m thirty I can do this, when I’m forty I can do that – it’s up to you what you want to do. It’s up to us to free ourselves from that kind of mind-conditioning. Embracing age means embracing the age you are. For me it means understanding that I cannot be the girl that I was when I was twenty, thirty or forty. My body cannot do certain things anymore and I don’t want to compete with myself. I think that’s the important thing. Years do go forward and we do change – it’s about embracing where you are at the fullest. I’ve worked hard all my life, and now I’m working with my body at 58. I cannot do a lot of things, I cannot jump – but I’m aware of where I’m up to, and one should not be afraid. In class, I see all these beautiful young dancers but if I started to compete with that, I would be frustrated. I enjoy being back on stage. In L’Heure exquise I play an old ballerina and it’s a great role. I couldn’t have done it before. I never thought I would sing on stage, and there I am trying to sing! It’s a dream role. Béjart did an amazing thing because he was able to translate Happy Days into a dance piece in a very clever way. I still feel I’m doing [Samuel] Beckett but in a different language.

With Gil Romain in ‘Les Chaises’ Photo by Kiyonori Hasegawa

The first thing you did when you came out of retirement was a piece you created on yourself.

Yes, I did The Piano Upstairs for the Spoleto Festival. It was also a play. I wasn’t talking myself but I was on stage with an actor. It was the story of the end of a marriage. It was a strange case of – is this life imitating art or art imitating life – because as I was working on it, my own marriage came to an end.  It was very personal. I never thought I was going to choreograph and I didn’t really want to because I don’t feel I am a choreographer but it was so personal, it would have felt strange to go and ask someone to choreograph. I thought, let me just try and see what happens….

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