Like an actor's monologue, a ballerina's solo must achieve the difficult balance between drama and ostentation, controlled technique and theatrical abandon. In the ballet rendition of Rossini's play, Guillaume Tell, Alessandra Ferri dances the character of Mathilde, an Austrian damsel whose love for a Swiss man is reminiscent of the forbidden love in Romeo and Juliet.
In this clip, performed in Pesaro, Italy in 1995, Ferri's third act solo evokes the torment Mathilde experiences in her divided loyalties between a cruel father and her lover's family. Ferri is blocked and tossed by her darkly clad partners, José Manuel Carreño and Rafael Rivero, and we see her increasing desperation as she stretches skyward with each rélévé and piqué. Ferri's acting prowess extends throughout her whole body: she embodies Mathilde's hopelessness in her loose floating arms in the chainé turns and the frantic pleas in her darting feet as she reaches and runs.
Ferri retired from American Ballet Theatre in 2007, but this 52-year old continues to create and inspire. Last month, she premiered in Wayne McGregor's Woolf Works, and we can't wait to see what role she will tackle next. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!