Photography by Kyle Froman
It’s rare to see celebrated ballet dancers outside of the grand opera houses that form their natural habitat. But Martha Clarke’s Chéri, which runs through December 22 at New York’s 294-seat Signature Theatre, gives audiences an up-close look at prima ballerina assoluta Alessandra Ferri and American Ballet Theatre star Herman Cornejo.
Based on the novella by Colette, which traces a turbulent affair between aging but glamorous Léa and dashing young Chéri in turn-of-the-century Paris, the multidisciplinary work poses a special challenge for two gifted dance-actors. It also marks a new phase in Ferri’s post-ballet career. ”When Martha proposed Chéri, I thought how incredible it would be to play somebody who belongs to me, now, and not to pretend to be 18,” Ferri says. ”There is something wonderful about looking at yourself as you really are—as Léa does in the stories, and as I am doing in this process.” Pointe went inside an intimate Chéri rehearsal with Clarke, Cornejo and Ferri.