Portrait of the Month: Ermanno Sbezzo
Originally from Italy, Ermanno trained at the BalletO di Toscana in Florence, Italy, before graduating from the Rosella Hightower High School in Cannes, France. He then joined the Pforzeim Ballet (Germany) where he was promoted to soloist and became first soloist at Pfalztheater Kaiserslautern (Germany), both under the direction of James Sutherland. He joined the BJM in 2019.
What is most difficult about dancing professionally?
I’ve been dancing professionally since I was 8 years old, and the more I go on, the more I realize how hard and demanding this job is. It’s really strange; there is a big part of myself that feels incredibly lucky and blessed the other that feels nostalgic.
I left home when I was a kid. When I was only 15 I had to learn how to deal with everyday life: cooking, washing, living alone and being a good student. Otherwise, my parents wouldn’t have allowed me to study dance. I’m proud of how much I’ve learned from my experiences, but at the same time, I wish I could have lived my childhood differently and have done things that all children do at that age. Dance has brought me away from the people I love the most: my parents, my family, my love. But on the other hand, dancing is something I love so much that I can’t stop.
Pina Bausch couldn’t say it better: “Dance, dance otherwise we are lost”.
What do you miss most about Italy?
I come from Sicily, to be specific, a very beautiful island in the south of Italy. Goethe used to write: “God created the world then he kissed it, where he put his lips, that’s Sicily.”
I miss everything about it: the culture, the people, the smiles, the smells, the church bells close to my home that used to ring every Sunday morning at 9… But what I miss the most is the beach. I don’t remember a single summer that I didn’t spend at the beach.
What have been your most memorable career moments?
I remember very clearly three of the best moments in my career:
The first one is when I signed my first contract with a professional company. I had been dreaming about this job day and night, and when I got the offer, I thought I was going to pass out.
The second was when my former director James Sutherland offered me the role of Romeo in his Romeo and Juliet. I was only 22, and it was the most someone had ever entrusted me with.
The third is when Louis called to offer me a job as an artist with BJM.
BJM has always been one of my dream companies. I’ve always been a fan of Céline Cassone’s and watching her videos was already a dream. Well today I stand at the barre next to Céline. I still can’t believe it.
Who has influenced your dance career?
The first person who believed in me is my first dance teacher Cetty.
From the first day on, she told me, “You will get far. You will be an extraordinary dancer. ”
Now, I don’t feel extraordinary at all, but it’s true that I went far, and if there is a person who has always believed in my potential it’s her. Then my parents of course, who supported me every single step of the way and accommodated every request I had. And Chris, who found me when I was in a dark place, when I nearly ended my career. He has given me a lot of love and trust, and if I’m here today, it is thanks to him, too.
How do you feel when you are on stage?
Well, the stage has become my second home. I love to dance on stage. I’m always nervous beforehand. My hands sweat every time. When the curtain opens, I always feel like it’s the first time I’m dancing. When I finish the show I either laugh or cry – both I consider to be positive reactions — which shows how intensely I share myself with the audience. Every performance is like getting naked in front of hundreds of people, everybody can see your beauty and your weaknesses too.