Born: 1993, Agrigento (Italy)
Education: Agora Coaching project, Reggio Emilia
Experience: MMcompany, Reggio Emilia; Introdans (since August 2013)
While his father was waiting for him to start playing football, Salvatore became increasingly interested in the ballet lessons being attended by his sister Luana, who is three years older. “As the youngest child you often follow what the oldest is doing,” he says with a shrug. But was it only that? Whatever the case, once he was allowed to go along, things moved fast. The ballet teacher immediately recognised his talent and insisted on talking to his parents. They needed a while to get used to the idea, but soon became supporters instead.
“I grew up in Porto Empedocle, a harbour town and coastal resort on the southern coast of Sicily. And in a warm nest, so to speak. We have always been very close as a family, even though I left home early because of my dance career.” Salvatore’s mother runs her own pastry bakery – with a full arsenal of delightful Sicilian sweets, it should be said – and his father is employed at the town hall. His sister Luana has stayed there too and currently works at a law firm. “She stopped dancing when she was ten, while I carried on. The only thing my father asked me was whether I was really sure about it. When I said ‘yes’, he always gave me his support from then on.”
At the age of twelve Salvatore received a scholarship from the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma. His parents arranged accommodation with a guest family in the capital. He stuck it out for a month and then returned home. But not because he was homesick – he couldn’t take the strict classical character of the dance school. “In Rome I learned that I do indeed like classical ballet, but that I myself am not a classical dancer. For me modern dance is a more natural way of expressing myself. I love to work on socks or bare feet, to feel the floor and to be grounded as opposed to being light and high. In my view, dancing is not about what you do, but how you do it.” At the age of sixteen a new opportunity arose: he was able to start dancing in TV programmes. For two years he shone as a dancer in TV studios in Turin, Rome and Bologna. “These weren’t live shows. I was always away from home for two months for recording, and then a month at home. In the meantime I trained as an architectural draughtsman.”
After Salvatore had gained his diploma he finished with the TV work. He wanted to make a new attempt at a professional dance education and to prepare for what he calls “real life”. He was accepted at Progetto Danza in Reggio Emilia and took part in the Agora Coaching Project. “My idea was to move on from here to a professional dance company. You get lessons from many well-known choreographers and you can be invited to auditions. My plan worked out. After a year I was offered a contract at MMcompany, a regional dance company. I had a fantastic time there and I still cherish the memories! The director treated me like a son. I can come back at any time, they told me. But I couldn’t make a living from it – which is very difficult in Italy anyway, as a dancer – and that’s what I wanted to achieve.”
It was Introdans which gave him this chance. “I’m not a planner – it’s not that things don’t get to me sometimes, but I always simply take the train that’s coming past. That’s an agreement I once made with myself. Which is why I did the audition at Introdans… me, who had never been outside Italy. And I was accepted! It makes me so happy. The repertoire we dance offers so many possibilities, styles… I still have so much to learn! And that’s exactly what I want. I want to be challenged and to focus: to really achieve something as a dancer.