One can spot a ballet dancer a mile away; they have impeccable posture, defined yet lean muscles and a certain elegance about them. This is exactly how I was able to recognize Italian born dancer and Ford model, Roberto Bolle upon arriving at the New York City Center.
I met up with Bolle to chat further on his upcoming performance for Roberto Bolle and Friends Gala where he and a company of five international principal dancers will perform a sequence of solos and pas de deux from classic and modern ballets of the 1900s at The New York City Center. The event, sponsored by Aqua di Parma, coincides with The Year of Italian Culture in the United States, which is exciting for Bolle as he will dance in representation of his home country.
After all, it was La Scala Ballet Company in Milan that prompted Bolle to principal dancer as a young adult. Since then he has performed at Buckingham Palace in presence of the Queen (which he discusses in the video below), in front of Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square, at the opening of the Winter Olympic Games in Turin and last but not least, for Salvatore Ferragamo’s 80th anniversary celebration in Shanghai.
To say the least, Bolle is dance royalty, but it’s not just his triple pirouettes (or those green eyes) that make him recognizable.
Over the years, the world of ballet has collided with the fashion industry; from designers like Riccardo Tisci and Christian Lacroix creating costumes for major ballet companies to models styled in pointe shoes for Vogue editorials, both industries have influences on one another. Seeing a professional dancer in a designer campaign? Well, it isn’t so foreign anymore.
Fashion and dance, ballet specifically, seem to be uniting more and more for they are fairly similar, both focusing on the smallest details, expressing emotion and using beauty to bring it together. “ Beauty is one of the main things they have in common” mentioned Bolle. “We [models and dancers] are working every day, working our bodies many hours a day to stay in shape, which is important.”
We have to trust Bolle on this, as he is no stranger to modeling having appeared in Ferragamo’s campaigns from fall 2008 to winter 2010 and gracing the cover of many a magazine including Vanity Fair Italia, GQ Style Italy and L’Officiel Hommes. Bolle is a ballet dancer who doubles as a fashion model, and a limber, graceful and passionate one at that. It helps that he has impeccable bone structure and manages to do a split in a Tom Ford suit too.
Though he has been featured as a dancer for brand campaigns and editorials (cue Bolle wearing a striped scarf and denim pants while hoisting ballerina Greta Hodgkinson high in the sky in a Gap campaign) he almost favors being photographed in designer clothes rather than a dance ensemble.“Photographers are excited to use ballet dancers for photo shoots because we have different muscle and different lines ” admits Bolle. “ We have to adapt to the clothes in a different way, which I actually prefer.”
On top of his various fashion campaigns, dancing at the MET and directing his upcoming gala, Bolle is a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF and has already traveled to Sudan and the Central African Republic to raise funds and awareness for children whose lives have ben affected by violence.
We give a very special thanks to Roberto Bolle for giving us his time between rehearsals, helping the world, and walking the red carpet. We don’t know how he does it all.
*Photos: Roberto Bolle for Fantastic Man/ Roberto Bolle covers Fashionisto Issue 8, 2013