Your Happy Thought: “Spending time with my wife: exploring new places together, experiencing new things together, growing together. There is something so incredibly beautiful about sharing your life with someone you love so much.”
Favorite Childhood Memory: “I have so many fun memories of me and my friends playing soccer against our dads, kids versus adults. We were always so determined to beat them, and would even organize meetings before the games to strategize and prepare. There was such a strong sense of teamwork, and even if we didn’t win very often we always had such an amazing time. We would play for 2-3 hours and then always go get pizza afterwards. We’d review the game while we ate, talking about what went well and what went wrong, and how we could improve for the next match. It was such a big deal to us. I cherish those memories so fondly in my heart.”
Something that makes you feel like a kid again: “Eating pizza always does the trick. There is also something about going to the beach that takes me back. When I was a kid my family used to spend most summers at a house near the beach. My sisters and I would spend our days building sandcastles and playing in the water. Every time I go home to Italy in the summer I take the opportunity to relive those memories by having beach days with my little nephew and niece.”
If time weren’t a factor I would…“Travel, travel, travel and more travel!!! I wish I could explore the entire world in this lifetime.”
What’s your favorite thing about Jorden Morris’ Peter Pan?
“I love the various dynamics between Peter and Wendy, Peter and Tinker Bell and Wendy and Tinker Bell. It’s not common for a ballet to have such diverse interactions. Peter and Wendy display love and romance, Peter and Tinker Bell have a timeless friendship and deep profound care for each other, and Wendy and Tinker Bell start out with jealousy but eventually become good friends too. It’s fun to watch these dynamics develop on stage.”
What’s it like to work with Jorden Morris in the studio? What’s his style?
“I love working with Jorden Morris. I was fortunate enough to dance Peter Pan the last time Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre did this production and that’s when I first met Jorden. His attention to the details is impeccable. And he always pushes you to do better in a very calm and constructive way. And I love how he truly lets you develop the character in the way that best suits who you are as a person and a dancer.”
Why does this story resonate with you? What makes it so timeless/
“Peter Pan is one of those fairy tales that I’ve always related to. I think the combination of the flying, fighting and the whole idea of escapism really resonates with me. Who wouldn’t want to fly to Neverland and never grow up?!?!”
What is it like to “fly”? How do you factor that into your typical character & choreography development?
“When I think of flying two emotions arise immediately: excitement and concern. Of course flying on stage is so much fun. You are up there doing flips and enjoying the stage from a perceptive that is very unique. But all the flying is incorporated into the choreography and therefore it’s timed very specifically. That’s when concern kicks in. A lot of elements need to work together flawlessly, at the same time, to create a smooth flight. The sword fights with Capitan Hook are definitely the most challenging as far as the flying. They are very fast and very precisely choreographed. There is very little room for error.”
What do you think is your unique take on the role of Peter Pan?
“As a dancer I always try to draw upon my own personal experiences to develop the character. Peter is very playful and mischievous, which is probably how my mom would have described me as a kid. So I try to draw upon memories of my childhood, when I had no real responsibilities or commitments and I just wanted to have fun. For scenes with Wendy, I think about my first love to tap into feelings of young and innocent romance. I feel that’s what most dancers do. Drawing inspiration from your own experiences is what makes a role so different from dancer to dancer.”
How’s it been to brush up on those sword-fighting skills?
“I feel I had a lot of practice when I was a kid. I used to sword fight with imaginary swords ALL THE TIME! Now, fast forward 15 years later and the kid in me is really really excited to be holding a sword and having rehearsals where we get to learn how to properly defend and attack. I cant deny it…. it’s so much fun!”