May 17, 2012|
HK Magazine: What made you first become interested in ballet?
Raffaele Morra: I have no idea. I always knew I wanted to be a ballet dancer—when I was six years old, my teacher asked me to draw how I saw myself in the future and I drew myself with my leg up, dancing ballet. It’s always been in my head. I finally decided to become a dancer when I was 13 or 14 years old.
HK: Why did you decide to join the Trocks?
RM: I went to see a performance in Torino, my home town, and I just loved the combination of classical ballet, which I adore, and the comedy part. I remember having a very good time and thinking “this is something that I could change my life for,” and that’s what I did. I left my hometown in Italy to travel to New York, which was a big change for me. I began working for the Ballet Trockadero and danced as a female or male character in almost every performance. I was performing classical ballet such as Swan Lake, which I love.
HK: What do you change about your technique when dancing as a woman instead of a man?
RM: For male ballet dancers, the focus is always on big jumps and big turns or multiple turns. It’s a very powerful way of dancing. As a female dancer, I have to give a lot of importance to the finesse and detail of footwork or the movement of the arms. Ballerinas are much more delicate than male dancers. The good part of Ballet Trockadero is that we don’t really need to change all of that since we still want our masculinity to come across sometimes. So there are moments in which we are trying to really look like a ballerina, but some other times we revert back to ourselves.
HK: Would you say you understand female dancers better after being part of this dance group?
RM: Yes. I understand all the trouble girls have when we do partnering or pas de deux classes, and I understand the problems the ballerinas have that male dancers don’t. Ballerinas always say “this is very difficult!” and, as a male dancer I say, “oh come on, it can’t be that difficult” but once you do it, it’s much more demanding than you would think.
HK: How do you find strike a balance between seriousness and comedy?
RM: It’s a group effort. We have people watching us the entire time during rehearsals. It’s a work in progress all the time at our company. We just have to be ourselves, which is the most important part, and not overdo it because otherwise it doesn’t feel real. Everything has to be done tastefully—we want to have fun with ballet, we don’t want to mock ballet. We want to have a good and honest laugh about ballet because we love it so much.
HK: Have you ever had a tough crowd?
RM: We have never had a bad reaction from an audience, although the culture changes from place to place. We were once in Turkey—before the show starts, we usually make a preshow announcement, which [lets the audience know] that they can laugh during the show. None of us could speak Turkish, so we just went straight into the performance, so the first thing the audience saw was the prima ballerina coming onto stage with a huge jump and a huge grin and of course they stepped back and said “whoa, what is going on here? I don’t know what to do.” Five minutes into the show, a child started to laugh and this woke up the entire audience. From then on they had a great time.
HK: What kinds of people usually come to your shows?
RM: We welcome all types—people who are ballet lovers, people who don’t really like ballet but appreciate what we do, kids, everyone. It’s a very good introduction to ballet because we make it easy and fun to watch while keeping the standard high. Who doesn’t want to have a lot of fun at a ballet show?
Catch The Trocks through May 20.