Ballet Changes Lives:

International Ballet Star Julio Bocca dreams big

Julio Bocca teaching a master class at the National School of Ballet in Cuba | photo credit: Yailín Alfaro

Earlier this month, when acclaimed ballet historian Elizabeth Kaye interviewed the incomparable Julio Bocca for The Music Center’s Digital Dance Salon Series, I knew their talk deserved mention.

Beyond the genuine warmth of their long-time friendship, which allowed for a fluid and even playful dynamic, what makes this share-worthy is the content of the talk… content that speaks to us all.

The Argentine-born ballet virtuoso was appointed by Mikhail Baryshnikov as a principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre (ABT) after one memorable interview with the two artists doing barre work, face to face.

This life-defining event took place decades ago, yet when Julio talks about it, he never fails to summon the vigor of that very moment… and we’re transported right there with him.

Elizabeth’s savvy journalist streak prompts Julio to reveal the question on everyone’s mind: did he and long-time dance partner Alessandra Ferri consummate their intimate partnership off-stage as well?

Julio’s answer dispels any such notions, confirming his level of devotion to the purity and sanctity of the artform above all else.

If it was not so before, it certainly becomes clear now why he is who he is, and how intricately his value system is linked to his caliber as a professional and human being.

Elizabeth Kaye talks with Julio Bocca
Ballet shaping lives: shown here are students of the National Ballet School in Cuba | photo credit: Santiago Barreiro of National Geographic Your Shot

When Elizabeth asks the man who by most accounts, has reached everything anyone ever dreams of… what he still dreams of, Julio’s answer is a ballet & arts school that would provide a life-changing education for many who would otherwise not find this possible.

Julio’s heart is with his homeland and surrounding cultures that yearn for enriching opportunities, and to that end he has set up the Julio Bocca Foundation, which finances projects to make this happen.

But, Julio says: “My home is ABT” (American Ballet Theatre) where he spent 20 of his brightest years, the place which enabled him to carve out the power and depth of his Identity.

“Bocca invited the trainees to make a difference from the heart…” writes Martha Sánchez in a 2014 article about Bocca’s visit to the National School of Ballet in Cuba, where he gave this advice to young dancers after teaching a master class. 

HEART. Ultimately this is Julio’s greatest asset. It is the place from where he dances, partners, teaches and connects. And this is what enables him to share his gift with all of us and make the world a better place for it.

til next time, dear readers !