Born: Sommariva Del Bosco (Italy), 1995
Education: National Ballet Academy, Amsterdam
Experience: Introdans (since August 2016)
“You really want this, don’t you?”
It’s a question – or actually an observation – that’s been a regular feature of Alberto’s life. But he didn’t know that the first time he heard it. The first one to ask was his first dance teacher. Alberto was aged fourteen and had just begun learning hip-hop dance. He was a rather shy outsider at the local dance school and was doing his utmost to learn the movements. Up until then he had only played football, which he found more or less OK. What he was feeling now was totally different – this was the real thing! But he still had so much to learn!
It’s the story of his life. Or at least, the dance part of it. Alberto grew up in Sommariva del Bosco, a little village close to Turin, as the son of a Sicilian architect and a Piedmontese geriatric care provider. Grandad and grandma live with their daughter’s family. His sister Noemi – who is sixteen years older and a graphic designer, and with whom he has had a close relationship all his life – left home when Alberto was five. This meant he grew up more or less as an ‘only child’. Alberto caught the dance virus when he saw the dance film. “After that I thought just one thing: wow, that’s what I want to do, too! A few days later I asked my parents whether I could take dance classes.” Yes, he could. And what’s more, they encouraged him to follow his own path and not to care what anybody else might say about his new hobby. He chose hip-hop.
Which brings us back to his dance teacher’s question. Once Alberto confirmed that he really was prepared to do anything to get better at hip-hop, his teacher recommended classical ballet. This would help him, was the advice. “My first thought was: no way, I’m not a ballerina! But when I finally took a class, I was amazed by the elegance of the dance movements. I thought it was wonderful. Outside dance school things were more difficult: I was bullied because I was taking ballet classes. After a year someone in my class did an audition at the Scuola del Balletto di Toscana in Florence. That was a trigger, and I decided to audition as well, just to test myself. To my own and everyone’s total amazement, I was accepted.”
“After that I had to choose between hip-hop – which I was still doing – and ballet. And there was also a complication due to my age: my parents felt I was too young to live alone in Florence. My mother was the second person in my life who saw that I really wanted this. Together we managed to talk my father round. The solution we came up with was that my Sicilian grandma would go with me. A great idea! When I started my course of studies I could hardly do anything. I didn’t even know the basics. But I was determined to learn everything that could be learned. And here too many teachers helped me actively because they liked my drive. I learned a huge amount in the four years of the programme. But despite this I still didn’t have the same level at the age of nineteen as other boys who had started dancing at an earlier age.”
“In my third year of studies I took a dance summer school, which included a few modern lessons. I still remember that I didn’t like it that much. Not the right mindset, I think today. But now I just love the Introdans repertoire. After Florence I auditioned and in Amsterdam. I was accepted by the National Ballet Academy in Amsterdam – despite my age – because my ambition was so clear. I was speechless when I got the phone call. It was such a big thing for me. As a nineteen-year-old I entered in the fourth year of studies and I had a great year! And at the same time the toughest one ever. But I grew so much, in so many aspects. I didn’t speak a word of English when I arrived. Well, I could name some parts of the body. And knew the names of the steps, in French. I watched a whole lot of films and read English books during that time.”
“I feel like a fish in water at Introdans. I feel like Introdans is where I want to be. There’s no comparison to school. Here I’m once again learning so many new things, not only about technique but also about people, performing, you name it. I like the Netherlands, too. Apart from the weather. Everything is clean and tidy here, which is nice, and I like the open-minded mentality of the Dutch. Really, growth is my only goal for the time being!”