He has been called one of the most beautiful men in the world, and I can hardly dispute that assertion. Standing 6’2” in his tights, Roberto Bolle is an Italian ballet dancer, currently a principal dancer with the American Ballet, also holding guest artist status with The Royal Ballet and La Scala Theatre Ballet. He has also appeared in numerous fashion and style magazines and holds something of a rock star status in his native Italy.
Bolle was born in 1975 in Casale Monferrato, in the Piedmont region of Italy, near Torino. At age six, he used to watch ballet on television and would start dancing in front of the set. He asked his mother if he could learn ballet, but the family wasn’t able to swing lessons at that time. Three years later he asked again and was successful. He went to classes in Piedmont for several for two hours twice a week. Then his mother decided to let him try, at age 11, the audition for Milan’s La Scala - the best ballet school in Italy.
Roberto was accepted. Though he later came to see it as the right decision to stay there, he was dreadfully lonely and homesick the first three-four years. When he was 15, Roberto met Rudolf Nureyev, who was at La Scala producing Nutcracker. Nureyev offered him the opportunity to go to Venice and a role (Tadzio) in Death in Venice which he was directing. It was very emotional for Roberto as he hadn’t expected this offer - something incredible. In the end he didn’t actually do it, as he was too young and there was a problem with the school. “But just to have that chance was wonderful, because I realised that ballet could be my career, it could be my life.”
In 1996, two years after he joined La Scala Ballet, he was promoted to principal dancer. He left La Scala a couple of years later, however, to pursue a freelance career. Among the companies with whom Bolle has danced are The Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, Stuttgart Ballet and Finnish National Ballet. Bolle made his first appearance with American Ballet Theatre in 2007.
Among many performances, Bolle also danced a solo at the opening ceremony of the Winter Games in Turin, Italy in February 2006. Recently, 50,000 people assembled in Milan’s Piazza del Duomo to see Roberto’s performance, and he has also brought ballet to Rome’s Colosseum and a central square in Naples. Since 1999, Bolle has also served as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF. He has also been a “poster child” for enrolling boys in ballet programs. “If I can help people to enjoy ballet more,” he has said, “and particularly to encourage boys to take up dance as well, then I’m doing my job ... You cannot underestimate the power of Billy Elliot [one of my all-time favorite movies]” adds Bolle. “The film and also the stage musical have been brilliant at kicking down the doors to help boys take up dancing.”
You MUST watch at least one of the following video clips. The first is a bit over the top, but what the heck. It refers to Bolle as the new Antinous, a second-century Greek, renowned for his beauty, who was the lover of the Roman Emperor Hadrian and deified by him after Antinous’ untimely death (a subject for another post). The video is dramatic, but engrossing, not the least because it features video clips of Bolle dancing.
The second video is more refined, featuring, as background music, Italian tenor Vittorio Grigolo singing beautiful “Tu Sei.” (A visit to his website would be worth your time. Have I mentioned I have a thing about Italy and Italians?)
If you still want more Bolle, the third video clip features even more photos, with background music from Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty. Beautiful.
A veritable feast! Enjoy. Sigh.