An interview with Loreta Alexandrescu, teacher of the Accademia Teatro alla Scala in Milan.
Since 1987 she had under her pupillage Roberto Bolle, Massimo Murru, Marta Romagna, Jacopo Tissi. From her 2010 class she graduated Nicoletta Magni, prima ballerina at La Scala, and Rebecca Bianchi, prima ballerina étoile at Teatro dell’Opera Rome.
Tell us something about you
My name is Loreta Alexandrescu and I am a teacher at the Accademia Teatro alla Scala in Milan. I’ve worked in such a prestigious organisation for 33 years, teaching ballet, character dance, historical dance and repertoire. Since 2005 I also teach dance theory and practice for the Academy’s programme for teachers. I graduated from Liceul de Coreografie of Cluj-Napoca (Romania) and after a successful artistic career I dedicated my work to teaching.
What is your relationship with music?
I’ve always loved music. My mother was a soprano, she sang and often took me with her to singing lessons. Afterwards, as a dancer, music became vital to me. Dance and Music blend together – dance is music and music is dance. As a dancer, once I mastered the technique, I always looked for the most beautiful part, that of the interpretation not just of the character but also of the movement itself. With music everything came to life, took “colour”; the dance would come out and the more the choreography was “musical” the more emotions were created. And this both for the dancer and the spectator. As a teacher the relationship changes but the importance of music doesn’t diminish. I would say that the skills and talent of a teacher lay greatly in their musicality.
Many pianists had the luck to start in the profession with you. How do you build a relationship with a beginner? And can you tell us an anecdote of the many you must have had?
Yes, many pianists started in my classes – so many I have lost count! Many of them are now experts in their field. A fundamental quality is to be good pianists, intuitive, sensitive and not afraid of the art of improvisation. The knowledge of the ballet repertoire is necessary but being able to move between different musical genres, play with the rhythm or give the right interpretation and “breath” to a piece are qualities that cannot be underestimated. The main rule is to build a relationship based on trust. Everything can be learnt, including artistry, but if there’s talent then a masterpiece can be achieved! An anecdote? Well, I remember one with a very young pianist – no names! Before going on stage, I whispered “Merde!” and at the end of the performance he was very upset and asked me to explain. He didn’t know it was just another way to say “Good luck”! We had a big laugh…
How do you teach to your students the relationship with music and the musician?
In my classes I always try to make students aware of the music. Music is rhythm, artistry, expression, harmony, everything dance needs, A dancer has to develop a musical knowledge and their curiosity in knowing and listening to the music cannot be superficial. One should not dance ON the music but IN the music and this is what I try to teach.
How should the ideal relationship between music and dance, and between dancers and musicians look like, in your opinion?
Because I don’t only teach ballet but also character and historical dance, I can say that they all have their own musical specificity. In character dance, music is influenced by the folklore of the different countries, while in historical dance music ranges from the XV to the XIX century giving dance measure and style. The musical accompaniment in ballet changes depending on the level of the course. For beginners, it should be simple and not too incisive to sustain the flowing of linking steps and to not distract the student from the execution of the movement. Nevertheless, there will always be attention to the musicality. For a more mature dancer, musicality should perfectly blend with training to become one with their professional development. The dancer should feel the music even on silence and then appreciate every musical note. The musician accompanying the dancer should understand the body’s power and breath. With regards to the relationship between musicians and dancers, I would say it’s not an easy one. The pianist expects the dancer to follow the music, and the dancer expects the musician to follow the dance. Great humility and professionalism are necessary. Obviously, the skills and sensitivity of both are important. It’s a very hard work, with a difficult path but when great results are achieved it’s extraordinarily rewarding.