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An Interview with Saul Marziali

by Kate Snedeker

I recently sat down with Saul Marziali, a member of the Royal Swedish Ballet's corps de ballet, in the Kungliga Operan staff cafeteria for a short interview. Marziali, a dual Swiss-Italian citizen, joined the company after auditioning last August and has already danced several solo roles.

Born in Milan, Italy, Marziali started dance and gymnastics at a local school when he was six, after seeing his older sister in her classes. After several years of both ballet and gymnastics, the siblings went to take the entrance exam for the ballet school of the famed La Scala Theater. As it turned out, Marziali's sister was too old to take the exam and Marziali was a year too young, but he was asked to come back the following year and thus started his intensive ballet training.

As a student a La Scala, Marziali had the incredible experience of dancing in Rudolph Nureyev's production of "The Nutcracker" with Nureyev, a dancer he has always greatly admired. Marziali also spent time in Moscow studying at the school of the Bolshoi Ballet. After finishing his schooling, he performed as a freelance dancer with companies throughout Europe, including Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, Ballet Ireland and a ballet company in Sofia, Bulgaria. Prior to coming to Stockholm, he also danced for several years at the Berlin Opera Ballet under the direction of Patrice Bart.

In 2003 after an audition in Stockholm, he found himself in the corps of the Royal Swedish Ballet. In discussing his reasons for coming to Stockholm, Marziali mentions the repertoire of the company, which includes many classical ballets such as "Swan Lake" and "Sleeping Beauty."

Since joining the company, he has danced in the pas de trois in "Swan Lake" and is currently dancing multiple roles in "A Midsummer Night's Dream," including "En hovmalare" (the court painter). Marziali has enjoyed his first year with company, mentioning the friendly and positive atmosphere and the willingness of dancers to help each other. He also likes the busy schedule -- which gives him plenty of opportunities to dance -- and the often sold-out, attentive and appreciative audience at the Kungliga Operan.

In the nearly twenty years of his professional career, Marziali has been exposed to a diverse range of companies and dancers. He admires his fellow Italian Alessandra Ferri, reminiscing about her performance in George Balanchine's version of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at La Scala, and hastens to add Sylvie Guillem to his list. Closer to home, Nathalie Nordquist, Marie Lindquist, and Anna Valev are among his favorite Royal Swedish Ballet ballerinas.

While he most enjoys performing in Nureyev's version of "Sleeping Beauty," it is Balanchine's ballets that most appeal to Marziali when he is a member of the audience. He talks animatedly about his admiration of Balanchine's choreography, which he has not performed since guesting with Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo. He will get his chance soon, as in April the company will dance "Allegro Brilliante," which was set on them over five days by Balanchine Trust repetiteur, Nanette Glushak.

At thirty-six, Marziali knows that he is much closer to the end of his performing career than the beginning. He has taught both students and professional dancers at the various stops in his freelance career, and though his busy schedule here has so far precluded it, he looks towards teaching as a possible post-performing career. But for now, performing still holds his attention, and though he is fortunate enough to have danced many principal roles in his career, one role he still hopes to dance is that of "De Grieux" in "Manon."

Marziali appeared in the Royal Swedish Ballet's production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" which ran through March 18.

Many thanks to Torbjorn Eriksson for arranging this interview and Saul Marziali for taking the time to answer my questions, both on very short notice. Tack and Grazie!

Edited by Lori Ibay

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