The ballerina Alessandra Ferri has had many dance lives. Now she may have one other, offstage. On Tuesday, the Vienna State Ballet introduced that Ferri, a former principal dancer with American Ballet Theater, can be its subsequent inventive director, succeeding Martin Schläpfer when his contract ends in August.
The information comes as one thing of a shock. Though the Italian-born Ferri directed the dance program of the Spoleto Pageant in Italy from 2008 to 2014, she had not beforehand expressed ambitions to run a ballet firm. And at 60, she nonetheless has a thriving performing profession. Ferri tried to retire from the stage in 2007, nevertheless it didn’t take. Two years later she was again, performing in items by Martha Clarke and Lars Lubovitch, amongst others. In 2015, she created a significant function in Wayne McGregor’s “Woolf Works” and, the following yr, at 53, she returned to Ballet Theater to bounce Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet.”
“Life is filled with surprises,” Ferri stated, with amusing, throughout a dialog in London the day after she returned from Vienna and the formal announcement of the job. “It does really feel to me like a pure development.”
Ferri may have an enormous job in Vienna. The 102-dancer firm offers round 80 performances a yr of its personal repertory at each the Vienna State Opera and the Volksoper theaters, in addition to showing in opera productions. And Ferri’s job can even embrace working the affiliated Ballet Academy, which was hit by allegations of abuse in 2019.
Lotte de Beer, the Intendant of the Volksoper, stated in an interview that selecting Ferri “wasn’t a tough resolution,” and that whereas Ferri had no earlier expertise of working an organization, she “requested the proper questions, made the proper remarks and felt just like the pure candidate.”
De Beer additionally praised Ferri’s “very excessive requirements and impeccable style.”
In a dialog, Ferri talked about bringing her broad expertise to the job and her imaginative and prescient for the Vienna State Ballet. Listed here are edited excerpts from the dialog.
Is directing an organization one thing you will have been desirous about for some time?
I had been considering it was one thing I wish to progress into, however I wasn’t centered on making it occur. I hadn’t utilized for any directing jobs, and there have been a variety of fantastic productions I used to be dedicated to as a performer. And at this stage of my life, to have the ability to dance actually wants a variety of dedication!
However on the finish of this summer season, the Vienna Opera requested to speak to me. I’m very instinctive, it has at all times been clear to me when I’ve needed to change and transfer on. This felt just like the second.
How properly are you aware the corporate?
I’ve been affiliated to the Royal Ballet, to La Scala, to Ballet Theater and the Hamburg Ballet. With Vienna, nothing. At first I assumed, Is that this the proper place? I don’t have a historical past with them. Then I spotted that’s truly a plus. I might be dedicated and concerned, however indifferent, which is a pleasant place to begin.
And I grew up within the opera home system, at La Scala, so it’s a construction I perceive very properly. So I assumed, I don’t know Vienna, however I do know ballet and I perceive the system.
I feel my expertise of dancing everywhere in the world has freed me to see completely different managerial approaches, and never be caught in a technique of doing issues.
The classics have at all times been essential on the Vienna State Ballet. What sort of stability would you want between classical and extra up to date repertory?
It is likely one of the nice classical repertory corporations, however I wish to have an organization that lives within the current and appears to the long run. What is evident is that it needs to be a glamorous firm, that displays its historical past and town. A sophistication needs to be there.
Possibly we may have a 60-40 stability of classical and up to date work, however to be sincere I don’t know precisely at this level. You may additionally ask, what’s classical? It’s not simply Nineteenth-century narrative ballets, however the trendy classics from the twentieth or twenty first centuries. I undoubtedly need creation, new works, however at all times holding in thoughts it’s a ballet firm.
Will you program completely different sorts of works on the two theaters?
I feel the programming needs to be differentiated between the State Opera and the Volksoper, which does operettas and lighter work. However I don’t know the audiences but, and I’m actually simply brainstorming now.
What is evident to me is that the phrase “excellence” have to be excessive up.