DANCE THE ART OF ELEGANCE
Giulia Lunardi is an Italian ballerina with the Teatro alla Scala corps de ballet. Originally from the Vincenza area, she moved to Milan when she was ten to attend Academy’s ballet school. She puts everything, body and soul, into her great passion and, thanks to ballet, she travels the world, broadening her horizons, culture and experience. We met up with her and asked her to tell us about this art form that is as old as mankind and an essential part of her life and ours in general.
– What are your earliest memories of dancing and when did you realise it was going to be your future?
When I was little, I used to go to my room every evening after dinner, I’d put some music on and start dancing. I used to jump about, it was my way of expressing myself, of letting off steam. When I was four, my mother decided to take me to a ballet class and I just fell in love with it. I saw all the girls in the room in their leotards and tutus and heard the teacher counting and explaining the exercises to them. I wanted to be one of them. That was when my passion began. Then, when I was ten, my dancing teacher suggested my parents took me for an audition at the Academy of the Teatro alla Scala. It seemed so unattainable, so out of my reach… But I had my heart set on it, so my parents decided to take me. I got through the first three selections and was accepted at the Academy. It was a completely different world to what I knew and was used to. I was from a small town. All of a sudden, I found myself in a new place with fourteen other boys and girls who lived for dancing. We went to school in the mornings and did ballet in the afternoons. This experience showed me I could have a future in dance, that I could actually be a ballerina. During my years at the Academy I had some really great times, times that helped me become who I am today. But it was also really tough. I boarded with other girls my age, but when I went home in the evening, my Mum wasn’t there to greet me or make me feel better if I was down. But I got through it. My passion was greater.
– Dance is a universal means of communication. What do you feel and what do you want to convey when you dance?
Dancing is my be all and end all. If I can’t do it, my body and spirit both suffer. Dancing means being free to express myself, to show who I am. Without anyone setting any limits, telling me what I can and cannot do. Dancing is a way of life and when it becomes yours, you can’t live without it. Then you realise that all your sacrifices have been worth it. I can’t imagine my life without dance.
– Dancing and rehearsing must be very demanding, both in terms of time and energy. Do you have any left over to devote to other things?
When I was at the Academy, no, I didn’t have time for anything else. After dancing, school, dinner and homework there wasn’t much left. My adolescence was very different to that of other people of my age. Now, though, I’ve got time for me and my projects. I get to work with other colleagues outside the company. It’s great when you get the chance to study steps we don’t do at the theatre, like some pas de deux. Not just in my classical repertoire but in contemporary dance as well. Great complicity can arise, every male ballerina has his own style, so that brings something different out in you too.
– Different dancing styles – classical, contemporary, hip hop, tango, jazz and flamenco, for instance – all have different rules and approaches. What is it like for a classical ballerina to try out a new genre? And if you had to choose one, what would it be?
It’s definitely easier for a ballet dancer to try other styles. They say ballet is the basis for everything, and it’s true. The discipline it gives you enables you to take on all the rest. If I had to choose another type of dance, it would be the tango. Because there’s nothing else in the world that combines elegance, sensuality and beauty like the tango. A woman can seduce a man with the tango without having to do anything else.
– There has been talk recently of an evolution in dance towards a form that is more purely physical, athletic and less theatrical. What do you think? How has dancing changed since you first began?
Dance is always evolving. Today the focus is on greater virtuosity, it’s become a lot more technical. I think there are two kinds of ballerinas. Technical, rational ones and more expressive ones who speak with their souls. Virtuosity is always exciting, but I think seeing the expressiveness of an artist who tells a story and really manages to convey it, is more moving. Expressiveness allows you to interpret a multitude of things.
– The year you got your diploma was an exceptional year because twenty-eight dancers graduated. A real explosion of talent. Could you share one of your memories of that unforgettable day with us?
Your diploma is something you dream of from your first day at the Academy. Everything you do in your last year is in preparation for that day when everyone performs a variation in front of a commission. There is great excitement and great empathy with the teachers. The families are there to watch. It’s amazing. I remember in the evening we all released balloons into the air, we didn’t know what the future held for any of us… It was a magical day.
– Three words to define dancing?
Discipline, elegance, beauty.