A star comes along once in every generation that causes a sensation across the world, we are lucky to have one or two of these stars gracing the not-so-far-away stage of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and we may not be of the generation to have witnessed Nureyev and his legendary partnership with Margot Fonteyn that electrified a generation but what I can hope for, is that Nureyev’s star, Roberto Bolle, could grace the Covent Garden stage for the last few years of a career that has seen hordes of adoring fans flock to see ‘Roberto Bolle and Friends’ across the globe and been dazzled by the epitome of the classical ballet Prince, who has also shown that there are no limits to his talents, adding modern works by Petit, Forsythe and Kylian, in recent years.
The Royal Opera House was abuzz last November, when the ‘King of Ballet’ once more graced the Covent Garden stage for the first time since he was a favourite partner of Darcey Bussell, chosen to dance at her farewell performance but unfortunately due to commitments, we were not afforded the privilege to see this partnership for one final time but there were many others as ‘Darcey Bussell: a Life’ testifies to.
I had booked my flight and survived the 2-hour anxious wait for tickets, the bright days of summer turned to winter, warmed by the thoughts of Bolle-Yanowsky-Acosta, only for the first Manon performance to be cancelled, due to a horrendous injury to Roberto’s hand that saw him hospitalised for a time but due to his commitment to the Royal Opera House, managed to get himself back to rehearsals with Zenaida Yanowsky, a Royal Ballet dancer who is probably one of the most underrated Principals to the public but one of the finest actor-dancers at the Royal, also at the peak of her career. The pairing of Bolle-Yanowsky was sensational and brought the house down. Both dancers are in a golden age of their careers, they have accumulated a wealth of experience that would inspire and cause an even greater sensation in the ballet world and further afield, if more established.
Ballet has somewhat lacked star-power, to the mainstream public and having witnessed the buzz that having such a gorgeous ballet couple on the stage caused and spilling out onto the streets of Covent Garden, Bolle should be able to bring a little bit of his International icon status to the UK, once more. Bolle causes such a stir, not just because he happens to be one of the most beautiful people on the planet but because his ballet is equally as beautiful. The lines that he creates are breathtaking and as ballet is so much about the line of the body, it makes him one of the finest proponents of his art. However, it does not end there, no-one watching Bolle dance, can do so without witnessing such strength and power which is probably why Paris Opera Ballet Etoile, Agnes Letestu rather magnificently called him, “the Rolls-Royce of Ballet Dancers”. A male dancer must also have strong, but expressive, feet and legs to leap and jump to heights that the mortal being cannot even dream of, Roberto fulfils this dream also. It is the years of working with top companies and ballet dancers from around the world, being a talisman for the art-form in his home country of Italy which is suffering it’s own financial crisis, being inspired in his role as a UNICEF Ambassador to take his gala, ‘Roberto Bolle and Friends’, around Italy and now to Japan and the USA, that has added to his many virtues, a depth of character that now shows in his work on stage, like never before.
However, younger dancers, I feel, that are on the verge of Principal status and who will be soon be losing the stratospheric influence of Carlos Acosta, could benefit most from having a figure such as Roberto Bolle, in the company. Someone such as Melissa Hamilton, for instance, who tweeted her delight of watching Manon from the wings and gaining from the experience. A recent review of Romeo and Juliet at La Scala in Dance Europe magazine with young dancer, Alina Samova, (incidentally Roberto’s Romeo has not been widely seen and must be a sight to behold), “Having first danced the role in 1995, Bolle’s Romeo is fine-tuned and confident, yet remains remarkably fresh and unpredictable. Not only handsome and statuesque, Bolle moves smoothly through his technique and is musically articulate. Most impressive, though, were the small details which Bolle creates…. a reality on stage with timeless resonance”.
Maybe it is just a dream but that is what ballet is all about and why we love it so much, it allows us to dream and it would be a dream come true if Roberto Bolle was to finish his career at the Royal Ballet as a Guest Artist, still making appearances across the world and in his home company, La Scala, Milan, of course. Another undisputed great of his generation, Carlos Acosta is due to retire and who greater to bring that kind of star power than Roberto Bolle. The cinema season is an innovation largely driven by Arts companies in the UK and the Royal Ballet has a very popular following across the globe but who better to see on the big screen with his matinee-idol looks, than Roberto Bolle, who, I am sure, would draw in a whole new and even mainstream audience. Roberto has made frequent appearances in the media in Italy and has made the crossover to becoming a mainstream star, there is more competition in the UK and possibly, maybe, the British audience has lost its interest in ballet, thinking it is inaccessible but I’m sure Roberto could make the crossover in the UK and promote ballet to greater heights than it has seen for a long time. I know that if this dream were to become a reality, I would be booking my flights over to London to be there and in the cinema but I’m afraid it might also mean that my long-suffering friends and family might hear a lot more about Roberto Bolle and the Royal Ballet than they do already and I might have to find more space for the pictures up that get me through some dull days in Belfast! I also know that I am not alone, it is the Bolle Effect and I am also reassured that it happens to quite a lot of people. So, go on, Mr O’Hare, I am so respectful of how you’ve run the company over some very tough times, you know you want to. It makes sense in so many ways, for everyone, the Royal Ballet is one of the world’s finest ballet companies, in the world’s Arts capital it would be a match made in heaven!