Italian dancer Alessandra Ferri is a prima ballerina assoluta.To share my expanding knowledge on dance, that is a title awarded to the most notable female dancers. It is a rare honour, reserved only for the most exceptional artists of their generation. The ‘hauntingly beautiful’ Alessandra began her climb to the pinnacle of ballet when she joined The Royal Ballet at the age of 15. Four years later she became one of its youngest Principal dancers. A small staue of her as Juliet stands in the Royal ballet school in her honour. After a six-year sabbatical, she returned, at the age of 52, to her Covent Garden roots to perform a ‘mesmerising comeback’ in Wayne Mc Gregor’s Woolf Works. Only a handful of ballerinas have danced in their 50’s. The Royal Ballet said Alessandra is the oldest to take a leading role, “en pointe and of this physicality” since the legendary Margot Fonteyn, who danced until she was sixty. Early this month the double Olivier Award winner joined one of the stars of American ballet, Argentine Herman Cornego in Martha Clarke’s adaption of Colette’s obsessive love story Cheri in the Royal Opera’s Linbury Studio. The Observer’s dance critic Luke Jennings was full of admiration, concluding his review with ‘Cheri is about the cruelty of time; Ferri’s career tells another, happier story,”
This is one of two sketches I drew-the other was Alessandra and Herman rehearsing Cheri.They signed for me after the final performance.