Coronavirus. How the Scala dancers train

Nicoletta Manni and Timofej Andrijashenko, First dancers of the Teatro alla Scala, tell Vogue about their home training routine

Perhaps no artist like a dancer suffers from inactivity. After just one week without the daily lesson, the damage is done and getting back in shape won’t be easy. It is therefore essential to find the time and place to practice those exercises at the bar and in the center that accompany the daily life of every dancer, since childhood. Our artists were the first places in forced quarantine and who knows how long still: the closure of the theaters, from Milan, Rome, Naples, deprived them, as well as the scheduled shows, also of the ballrooms where to train and try . Organizing yourself is not just a matter of ingenuity, as they explain to us Nicoletta Manni and Timofej Andrijashenko, first dancers of the Teatro alla Scala, partners on the scene and companions in life. “The first few days of inactivity were a discovery for us: we never have time for anything other than dance,” they tell us on the phone from their home in Milan. «Of course, immediately we had to find a way to train every day. At home it is not easy because for our lesson we need a bar, a particular floor and obviously adequate space ». «We created the space in our living room» explains Timofej. “Not having a large apartment, we move the table to the sofa.” “We use window sills and an iron board as a bar”, Nicoletta jokes. “Fortunately in our garden we manage to running and doing push-ups to maintain athletic training and muscle tone. For the step two let’s try some holds ».

Nicoletta Manni and Timofej Andrijashenko during rehearsals

Nicoletta Manni and Timofej Andrijashenko during rehearsals

Nicoletta Manni and Timofej Andrijashenko during rehearsals

Of course, for a lesson, which dancers also call “class” in jargon, you need a teacher, but in internet times a solution is found, as the couple suggests: «Every day we retrieve on YouTube a lesson recorded every year during the “World Ballet Day” event with the great ballet companies of the world, held by excellent teachers. Let’s follow those: we had never found the time to look at them, but they are very interesting and suitable for us for technique and rhythm ».

A solution similar to what their colleagues had to come up with. A immediately viral video released on social netwok portrays the dancers of the Teatro alla Scala intent on trainingi, with great inventiveness and a lot of irony, inside their homes: in the kitchen, in the living room, on a balcony, between domestic dogs and cats or together with their children.

“A colleague of ours, Marco Messina, had the idea” say Timofej and Nicoletta. “He asked all of us to send a 20 second video recorded with your smartphone, to then edit it in a short video clip: we gladly took part, also to play down a bit in this difficult period. Yes, it really liked it and we are already planning another one. At 18 we also participate in the flashmobs from the windows, with our pizzica from Salento, in the garden, and a cat who comes to visit us »says Nicoletta, originally from Puglia. “It also serves to keep up the mood, not easy overwhelmed as we are by such dramatic news. But we must, yes: being together supports us and every morning, when we wake up, we set schedules and goals: in addition to the lesson we cook, we see some ballet videos or a movie, we keep in touch with family members. For responsibility we didn’t want to go home. ” “I am in Lecce,” says Nicoletta; “I am in Riga,” says Timofej, “but we inquire about the situation in our home cities.”

Unfortunately, artistic renunciations for ballet stars are also heavy: both Nicoletta and Timofej had to cancel important appointments: she was a guest invitation to Russia, to which she cared a lot, he a Swan lake guest of the Riga Ballet, together with a Gala in Poland. At La Scala the couple had started trying Romeo and Juliet, expected from late April, and it would soon be the turn of rehearsals Swan lake, on the bill between June and July, two titles loved by both. Before the closing decree, the corps de ballet had continued to rehearse in the theater, with the necessary precautions and a doctor at the entrance who measured the temperature. Then the news of a positive backing vocalist and the government decree also made La Scala close its doors.

In the meantime, the closure of the theaters and the cancellation of the shows have affected almost all the international ballet community, the last to resist the English and Russian. «We are in contact with the dancers friends we have known over time at gala and shows, also with WhatsApp groups: everyone has our same difficulties and fears. We Italians who were the first affected, now we no longer feel alone. For us dancers this could be a long inactivity that had ever occurred and then returning will be very, very difficult. ” «We don’t deserve it» Nicoletta grows excited «our sector, especially in Italy, is already so forgotten! We theater employees are somewhat protected, but you have to think of the many dancers without fixed contracts ».

Nicoletta Manni and Timofej Andrijashenko

Hope could come from the initiatives of this ballet community or from some of its stars. «Already circulating on social a invitation to spectators in possession of canceled show tickets not to ask for a refund of the price, if they can afford it, and we bet that Roberto Bolle, who cannot stand still, will organize something ». “It is useless to make predictions, but we cannot stop hoping and we can’t wait to go back to dancing in our beautiful theaters” Nicoletta hopes; «Hashtag # will be all right» »Timofej says.

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For the video courtesy of Instagram marcomessina81

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