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Ballet is Worth Dying For, Interview With Luca Masala

editorial & arteditorial

20 March 2019

I've entered the Academy of Dance Princess Grace with the emotion of a little girl remembering the days when I used to hold that bar, bend, do the pirouettes, dance like a ballerina. Those moments of grace came back to my mind and stirred the magic. Seeing the ballet dancers getting ready for the class brought up that fairy tale we all want to believe in. But, behind the curtains, there's a whole new world that I was eager to get to know. I met Director, Luca Masala, a very handsome tall man, with an unexpectedly cool attitude and humour, a very dignified person with a lot of stories to tell, stories that will be revealed in the book to come, Untold Stories from Monaco by Andra Oprea.

Dance is your life, our readers are very curious to know more about your life as a dancer, how it all started...

It all started by opening and entering the wrong door! Or, actually, it was the right door! (laughing) I was a little ten years old kid when, one day, I went with my mother to pick up my sister from the ballet classes.  I was waiting in the waiting room and getting bored. Then, one second, hearing the beautiful music, I entered the class room and I saw those boys doing Russian character dance, with this teacher who had a lot of hair, and there was sweating and turning and then the sweat was gone. They were doing beautiful jumps and the next thing I remember is that I said to my mother that I want to be a dancer.

So, I need to thank to my sister because if it wasn't for her taking the dancing classes, I would not even got close to that. My mother was very happy to hear that I wanted to dance so she could just bring me together with my sister. My brother was also doing ballet class there.

Was it in Italy?

It was in Italy. For a very short time it was in a private school in Reggio Emilia of two important dancers. One is Liliana Cosi, she was one of the biggest etoile from La Scala who opened this private school and Marinel Stefanescu who is a Romanian ex-dancer, a gold medallist with Baryshnikov in Varna, in the sixties.

The next day, I started.

It was quick!

Everything goes very fast with me!

How did this world unveil to you?

At first, I was a bit disappointed because I was not going to do all those big jumps and I had to go in front of a bar, hold it in very strange positions and do very slow exercises. Then, there was, also, the teacher who screaming at me for about one hour and a half.  

So, it was not love at first sight?

It was love at first sight but then you're like "oh, that's not the full picture I'm seeing here!" But, nevertheless, I have to say, from the little I remember, is that I liked it. I liked the fact that I was working my body and I liked the challenges. I had changed many disciplines before this. I was doing swimming, tennis, Tae Kwando. I liked ballet! Living in a very conservative city, at that time, where if you did ballet as a boy, you were considered as a little girl, my friends were making fun of me, so I said to my father that I didn't want to dance anymore, four months after starting the classes. Because I left so many hobbies, my father was like: "I had it! You are going to your Director and tell him that you don't want to dance anymore. I come with you, but you speak." And I was very afraid of this man! Back then, the teachers were a little bit harsher than today. They could do a lot of things that, today, are forbidden. So, I remember I entered the office with my father who said: "Mister Stefanescu, my son has something to tell you." And, I said: "I decide that I don't want to dance anymore." And, then, there were screams at my father: "It's not possible! How can you permit that to your son who has a lot of talent, he has to do ballet!" I was giving up because I was mocked at, not because I didn't like it. Then, I got so afraid and, after the conversation, I said that I would continue. 

How interesting this whole life starts for Luca Masala, such an intriguing and passionate man! His ballet career started at La Scala, then he continued with the School of American Ballet in New York, and Princess Grace Academy of Classical Dance in Monaco. A perfect triangle splashed with encounters, roles and performances that outpass normal emotions. Toward the end of his career as a ballet dancer, after playing in well-known theaters such as La Scala, Kirov, Teatro Massimo in Palermo, Luca Masala became Maitre de Ballet for the Ballet du Capitole de Toulouse. In 2009, he is named Director of the Princess Grace Academy in Monaco. On 19 November 2011, he was honoured by HRH the Crown Prince to the rank of Knight of the Order of Cultural Merit.Besides all these, the passion in his voice, the smiles and desire to share proves that he is not only a true artist but also a great human being.

You will read the sequel and all the captivating stories in the book so, please, stay tuned! 

Author: Andra Oprea