Peek Backstage During Roberto Bolle's Final Bow with ABT
Roberto Bolle's rise in ballet reads like a fairy tale—one in which he's the prince. At 15, he was hand-picked by Rudolf Nureyev to perform with La Scala Ballet, and by 19 he was hired into the company. Two years later, he rose to the rank of principal, and in 2009, he joined American Ballet Theatre.
"A lot of ballets remind me of Roberto," says Hee Seo, ABT principal, who danced the role of Manon in Bolle's farewell performance this summer. Although Bolle will continue to guest with La Scala, he is leaving ABT to devote more time to a festival he's building in Italy. His final role with the company had special significance: Bolle also debuted with ABT in Manon, when Italian ballerina Alessandra Ferri requested him as her partner.
On his final night with the company, fans, who had flocked to the Metropolitan Opera House to see him one last time in that iconic theater, rushed to the edge of the stage even before the curtain fell. In true farewell fashion, company members threw roses, confetti rained down, and a parade of ballet greats presented him with hugs and bouquets.
Bolle developed a reputation over the years for farewell performances. Ferri asked that he be her final Romeo in 2007, and then Julie Kent followed in 2015. That same year, he was Paloma Herrera's last Albrecht in Giselle, and he even made time to travel to the Paris Opéra Ballet to partner Aurélie Dupont when she retired in Manon. "He's always been the perfect partner," Seo says.
Bolle, who has appeared as a model in fashion campaigns, has been compared to a Greek god and a movie star. Audiences in Italy, the U.S. and beyond follow his performances religiously. Since 2013, Bolle has toured and performed with other big-name ballet dancers in his own gala, Roberto Bolle and Friends, to massive sold-out theaters.
Among Bolle's peers, he's equally admired for his humble work ethic. "A lot of things he says with his body are very clear—it's almost like a textbook," Seo says. Bolle's presence at ABT "raised the bar for principal dancers," says principal Herman Cornejo, who has also appeared in Roberto Bolle and Friends. "And, as a human being, he is one of the most respectful people I've ever met."
At one moment during Bolle's final curtain call, Cornejo and his ABT peers Daniil Simkin, Cory Stearns and David Hallberg ran from the wings to embrace Bolle from all angles. "A great gentleman is leaving," Cornejo says. From the proscenium to the last row, everyone could feel the bittersweet sentiment that ABT and New York City audiences were saying goodbye to a legend, and of course, a friend.
Just hearing the word "improvisation" is enough to make some ballet dancers shake in their pointe shoes. But for Chantelle Pianetta, it's a practice she relishes. Depending on the weekend, you might find her gracing Bay Area stages as a principal with Menlowe Ballet or sweeping in awards at West Coast swing competitions.
She specializes in Jack and Jill events, which involve improvised swing dancing with an unexpected partner in front of a panel of judges. (Check her out in action below.) While sustaining her ballet career, over the past four years Pianetta has quickly risen from novice to champion level on the WCS international competition circuit.
Sean Dorsey was always going to be an activist. Growing up in a politically engaged, progressive family in Vancouver, British Columbia, "it was my heart's desire to create change in the world," he says. Far less certain was his future as a dancer.
Like many dancers, Dorsey fell in love with movement as a toddler. However, he didn't identify strongly with any particular gender growing up. Dorsey, who now identifies as trans, says, "I didn't see a single person like me anywhere in the modern dance world." The lack of trans role models and teachers, let alone all-gender studio facilities where he could feel safe and welcome, "meant that even in my wildest dreams, there was no room for that possibility."
It's hour three of an intense rehearsal, you're feeling mentally foggy and exhausted, and your stomach hurts. Did you know the culprit could be something as simple as dehydration?
Proper hydration helps maintain physical and mental function while you're dancing, and keeps your energy levels high. But with so many products on the market promising to help you rehydrate more effectively, how do you know when it's time to reach for more than water?