I am Jacopo and I come from Landriano, Lombardy. I am twenty-three and have been living in Moscow since October 2016.
I first decided to be a dancer when I was five. I had been watching a ballet on TV. and had found it to be fascinating. I went to my parents and told them: “I want to do what they are doing!” I have always had a good sense for music, and was lucky to have such a supportive family. My parents brought me to the dance school in Landriano and, at the age of eleven, I passed the exams and was accepted into the La Scala ballet school in Milan.
While my family allowed me to matriculate, they took a “wait and see” approach. In 2014, I graduated from the Academy at La Scala and got my diploma. The very next year, I decided to go abroad for a while, and joined the Wiener Staatsoper ballet company, and eventually returned to Milan.
A very important person on my path was Makhar Vaziev, the director at La Scala. In 2016, he went to Moscow and invited me to come and study dance there.
With dance, you grow. There are not many other career paths that inject the same sense of discipline, responsibility, will, and bravery. Yet, you also have to be humble in order to keep the growth constant. You can never become complacent, even if you can enjoy the results along the way. A dancer always tries to improve himself, even if the rivalry is ultimately against himself. You also must be patient. Once aware of all of this, you can be sure of why you made this the choice of your life.
At The Bolshoi, the amount of work is huge. We work on two hundred shows per year, which means about twenty per month, with very diverse productions and rehearsal schedules.
A thing that makes the difference is the coach. Every dancer has his personal teacher-coach who follows him daily, and before every show. The coach is essential because of the diversity of the roles and debuts.
I became First Soloist last November, which has been very rewarding. Now I aspire to become First Dancer. What is important, in order to achieve your goals, is the work you must do every day. You need great willpower to overcome stress, difficulties, bad days, and outdoing and going beyond your limits and fears. You have to look to improve your technique and develop your artistic side, which involves interpretation.
The public responds strongly, which is essential for me. I need and love to feel the audience’s energy, the adrenaline that comes during and after the show thanks to the audience’s emotions. It gives a dancer strength. Depending on the role one has just danced on stage, at the end one can feel even stronger or completely exhausted. This is because every ballet – and every role, indeed – is a story in and of itself. Siegfried of Swan Lake or Sleeping Beauty’s Prince are very interesting roles, and achievements for every classical dancer, because they are pieces of the ancient repertoire. But more recent ballets such as Manon or Romeo and Juliet, or Spartacus, are moving as well. Choreographies that I feel strongest about are the ones that lead me to wonder and think, and be in a constant dialogue between reason and sentiment.
The most important people for me are my family and my teachers. Both Makhar Vaziev and Alexander Vetrov (who is my coach) not only give me support in terms of my progress and technique, but also a psychological plan to stay strong throughout.
My next task is Flames of Paris. Every show presents something new and different. In every show, there is a growth. My first important experience was partnering with Svetlana Zakharova in Sleeping Beauty at La Scala. A guest artist did not show up and she chose to trust me. She has been very generous and has taught me a lot—an amazing experience for me.
What dance can do?
Dance is something that unites, joins; it can really bring people together. The music is very important. The dance and music combine into something positive—an expression of joy.
Jacopo Tissi is first soloist with the Bolshoi Ballet.
Interview by Maura Madeddu.
PC Gregory Shelukhin and Pierluigi Abbondanza