Alessandra Ferri   Alessandra Ferri in Lower Manhattan.  Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

It was late April, and the ballerina Alessandra Ferri was rehearsing the balcony pas de deux from Kenneth MacMillan’s “Romeo and Juliet” with Herman Cornejo in American Ballet Theater’s Lower Manhattan studios. The liquid fluidity, gorgeously arched feet and dramatic intensity that have characterized Ms. Ferri’s long career were all in evidence, and onlookers were watching with rapt appreciation.

Ms. Ferri does know what she is doing. On Thursday night, she is returning, at 53, to the Metropolitan Opera House stage to dance, for just one performance, the teenage Juliet — probably her most famous role — which she first danced at 21, in 1984, as a principal at the Royal Ballet.

“I was a little afraid of doing it again,” Ms. Ferri said after the rehearsal. “I went through many stages of indecision and fear and excitement. Then at one point, I thought, I’m only alive once: Why not?”

Dancers have relatively short careers. Because of the demands the profession makes on the body, retiring in the mid-40s — as Ms. Ferri did — is considered a very good run.

“When I retired, it was the end of my career, and that’s still true. My career is over. I have gone back to the pure joy of what I feel when I dance.

– from Alessandra Ferri Makes the Most of a Dance With Father Time, NYT, 6/22/2016

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