Video: Video Finds: Dance — Ferri and Sting |
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Video Finds: Dance — Ferri and Sting

The artist otherwise known as Sting deserved some kind of medal for the promotion of interdisciplinary understanding (the Crossover Cross?) when he arranged for the prima ballerina assoluta Alessandra Ferri to dance while he played a guitar transposition of the Prelude from Bach’s Cello Suite No 1 in G major, with choreography by Heinz Spoerli and understandably lingering direction by the dancer’s husband, Fabrizio Ferri. The actual duet takes about two and a half minutes to get started, but since Alessandra Ferri, throughout her career, was fascinating even when standing still, there is no danger of the viewer’s attention straying. For many ballet fans in London, Ferri was the all-time most lyrical Covent Garden ballerina, especially when dancing for Kenneth MacMillan. There were mass cries of pain when the Royal Ballet allowed her to escape to New York. Copyright controls on ballet are cruel — musicians, conductors and dancers all have agents — so there is sometimes not much to go on when you search YouTube in the attempt to trace the highlights of a distinguished lifetime. Suzanne Farrell, whose poetic ability was possibly the single greatest inspiration for Balanchine, is hardly there at all. But there is enough of Ferri to get the new viewer started on the trail to the full-length DVDs.

Several substantial fragments from MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet are on YouTube, and they show her at the dizzy height of her craft. Viewers who aren’t yet quite ready for her partner Wayne Eagling in tights, however, can always begin here, with this duet, where she is supported by nobody less butch than Gordon Thomas Matthew Sumner from Wallsend. As if startled by an unexpected charge of pheromones, Alessandra Ferri from Milan is driven to a beautiful distraction. Credit also to Johann Sebastian Bach from Eisenach: all he ever needed was the right instrumentalist and a pretty woman at stage centre — just as long, of course, as she danced like an angel on holiday.

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