When Alessandra Ferri dances, something magical happens. Her movement transcends the steps, transforming her body into something that seems not entirely human—all while revealing some of the deepest human emotions. I’ll never forget the first time I saw her perform. In my teenage mind, I thought her dancing looked the way love must feel.
Part of what makes Ferri so extraordinary is that dancing doesn’t appear to be her choice; it seems almost as essential to her as drinking water. “I feel most alive when I am dancing,” she told me at our cover shoot when I asked what brought her back to the stage after retiring seven years ago. “I am a dancer—that’s what I am here to do.” She admitted that she had to overcome the fear of not being a ballerina, of aging as a dancer, but once she did, a new world of possibilities opened up. Now she has almost half a dozen projects in the works everywhere from Indianapolis to Italy. And at 51, this new chapter has been liberating: “I’m less afraid of dancing. I’d always been rather nervous about going onstage, but now I only do it because I love it.” As she tells writer Gia Kourlas in this month’s cover story, she no longer views dance as a career, but a passion—and a gift.
“Today everything is so fast, so immediate, so young, then you’re gone. You haven’t tasted the pleasure of each different phase. It can be something that is more refined, more subtle.”
—Alessandra Ferri on the opportunity to perform at 51.
Above right: Ferri rehearsing with Herman Cornejo. Photo by Kyle Froman.
This issue is filled with advice and inspiration to feed your passion: We spoke to iconic choreographer Ohad Naharin about the process behind his latest U.S. premiere; commercial mastermind Ryan Heffington told us about why he finds the most interesting techniques to be those that are “wrapped in a creative burrito”; and New York City Ballet principal Abi Stafford wrote a moving “Why I Dance,” about how she rediscovered her drive after almost quitting. She had to reconnect to the physical sensation of choreography on her body, the joy of playing in an empty studio, the goose bumps she gets when she steps onstage—and realized that no matter how challenging this career can get, those are the moments she lives for.
Editor in Chief