News: Alessandra Ferri back for Royal Ballet's Woolf Works.

Friday 8 May 2015 by Clare Evans

Alessandra Ferri in Vogue June 2015 Photo: (VOGUE/Linda Brownlee)

Alessandra Ferri is returning aged 52 for The Royal Ballet’s Woolf Works, as its oldest leading lady since Dame Margot Fonteyn. She will take the lead in the three-act ballet from Wayne McGregor, based on the writings of Virginia Woolf.

Ferri hopes to blaze a trail for older dancers, saying that the over-40s face age discrimination in the ballet world.

“(Younger choreographers) are unable to see that you are unique and to enjoy that fact. Some of them hardly even look at you in the rehearsal studio. I’m a pioneer and maybe I can open the door to whole new possibilities for other mature dancers,” she said.

McGregor, a long-time fan of Ferri’s, explained why sought her out for his leading lady.

“She is such an amazing dancer and a good actress,” he said. “I wanted to push her physically. We still have this very particular idea about the age at which people should dance.”

Born in Milan, Ferri joined the Royal Ballet at 15, catching the eye of Kenneth MacMillan, eventually becoming the famed choreographer’s muse. She was made a Principal at just 19 years old, and retired (temporarily) at 44. She’ll have to dance for another eight years to match Fonteyn, who marked her 60th birthday with a celebratory dance at the Opera House.

Read more: The Telegraph, 6 May 2015

Woolf Works will run at The Royal Opera House from May 11 – 26.

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