Voci dell’Opera got a chance to have a talk with Jacopo Tissi, a former La Scala ballet dancer, who has recently joined the Bolshoi Ballet Company. Jacopo told us about his passion, dreams, partnership with Svetlana Zakharova and other interesting things concerning his life and career.
When did you start taking up ballet? Was it your own decision or, perhaps, your mum’s?
I started studying ballet at about 5/6 years old, I saw a ballet on the TV and I told my parents I wanted to study ballet.
At what age did you get to know you are cut out for ballet, that you have impressive physical possibilities, turnout, etc? Was it difficult for you to study at La Scala Ballet School?
At the age of 11 I was accepted at La Scala Academy, this was already a big thing for me because I didn't know almost anything about the professional ballet world; I'm really affectionate to La Scala Academy, there I spent eight very important years of hard work, life, experiences and more.. since I started there I really wanted to be a ballet dancer and this wish never changed, making my passion a main part of my life developed with my route.
In 2013 you took part in Tsiskaridze’s class at the Bolshoi. Could you describe how it was? Did you have a private talk with Nikolai on your possibilities, some technical things, future plans etc?
In 2013 I visited Russia for the first time with La Scala Academy, I was very fascinated by the Russian ballet world. I remember I liked the class with Tsiskaridze and I remember that in the end he asked where I was from and told me I was interesting.
You were born to dance princes, but have you ever danced villains or funny characters? Would you like to?
I'd like to dance many different classical characters and also trying different dance styles, it's always interesting to open yourself to new experiences but of course there are some things that suit you better than others.
Were you nervous when you danced with Svetlana Zakharova in ‘The Sleeping Beauty’? What was your reaction when you found out you would dance with her? What was she like during your rehearsals? Are you planning to dance with her at the Bolshoi?
It was a great chance and experience for me dancing with her at La Scala, of course I was a bit nervous because it was also a big challenge; I was very honored and happy of course, she helped me a lot and she was very nice with me during rehearsals and on stage, I'm very grateful to her for giving me this opportunity; I would love to dance with her again and here would be great, let's see.
Do you remember the first ballet performance you saw? Did it impress you? In what way?
Probably the very first one I saw was Makarova's Bayadère at La Scala; I can remember I was impressed by people's energy on stage, the story, the costumes, everything was new for me, seemed kind of magic.
Some people believe that the most important thing for male ballet dancers is a high jump along with partnership cooperation with a ballerina. Do you agree?
For ballet you need many things, yes it's true a male ballet dancer must jump and be a good partner, but also coordination, good presence, personality... but I think a dancer also needs to have everyday perseverance, intelligence and humility; everyone has its own qualities and defects and even when you have a strong technique you can improve it more and more, I think it's great when you see above all somebody's special on stage.
Do you think male ballet dancers are still considered to be just ‘a frame’ for ballerinas that helps them show their grace and beauty on stage?
The man part developed from just partnering to a main role, but I think the "ballerina" is still the protagonist at least in the historical classical ballet.
Could you tell us about the Bolshoi’s dancers reaction to your joining the company? Did you notice any signs of jealousy from male dancers’ part? A great deal of admiration from female dancers?
I felt good joining the company and also the people from the company were and are nice to me.
Could you say a few words about the roles you have already danced at the Bolshoi?
I recently danced Etudes and Diamonds, yes, I enjoyed both. Etudes is kind of structured like a ballet class where we try to show the purity of the classical form, but also the joy to dance; Jewels is one of the Balanchine's masterpiece, I like Diamonds atmosphere that includes mystery, beauty, joy and brightness all together.
Could you tell us about your couch at the Bolshoi? What kind of advice does he usually give to you?
I'm very happy I have Alexander Nikolaevich Vetrov as my coach here at the Bolshoi, he's a great teacher and also a very nice person.
Do you like Moscow? What are you favourite places there? Is it hard for you to live in Moscow? What is the most difficult thing?
I like Moscow, it's a very interesting city. Of course it's very different from Italy and there are things that I'm getting to know and discovering and getting use to, but this is interesting as well.
Do you speak Russian?
Let's say I do speak Russian, but still I have a lot to learn and I'm working on it.
What is your opinion of the Mariinsky Theatre? Would you like to dance there?
Mariinsky together with Bolshoi is one of the most important theaters in Russia and in the world and it has a great history and tradition, it would be an honor and pleasure to dance on that stage.