Photo Robin DePuy
(c) Dutch National Ballet 2014
Reproduced with kind permission of the Dutch
Cristiano Principato is an Élève (which translates roughly as "pupil", "apprentice" or "trainee") of the Dutch National Ballet. I wrote a feature on him in December 2014 shortly after he had joined the Junior Company That man can dance. He was trained at La Scala Ballet School, spent a year with the Dutch National Ballet's Junior Company and joined the main company last year. He has already performed at Covent Garden (see
Junior Company in London - even more polished but as fresh and exuberant as ever 7 June 2015) and at the Coliseum (see Wheeldon's Cinderella 13 July 2013) and I am sure we shall be hearing a lot more about him as time goes on.
Cristiano's latest project is a gala at the Silvio Pelico Theatre in Trecate on 28 June 2016 in aid of Casa Alessia's initiative in Bujumbura to give former child soldiers an opportunity to recover their childhood, to gain an education and learn a useful trade. Casa Alessia is an Italian charity which tackles need in Italy and overseas. According to the charity's website:
"Since 2008 a village of some 48 dwellings has been built at Masango in Burundi under the guidance of a Father Bepi.
The project was intended to enable former child solders regain their childhood. Father Bepi has taught them a trade while the charity has provided a roof over their heads to ensure a promising future.
Co-operative enterprises have been established around the village which brings relief to the poorest people."
Readers will know that this is just the sort of initiative that is close to my heart. My late spouse came from Sierra Leone which also suffered a vicious civil war in which children were kidnapped, drugged and forced to fight and commit the vilest atrocities. Michaela DePrince, who is also in the Dutch National Ballet, has described some of those appalling events graphically in Hope in a Ballet Shoe. My other connection with Africa is my late spouse's goddaughter who escaped the civil war to live with us. She is now the nearest I have to a daughter and her little boy the nearest I have to a grandson. I visited that country in 2007 and saw some of the devastation for myself (see Sierra Leone 18 April 2007 NIPC Law).
Because of my connection with Africa I have supported initiatives like Anno Africa's work in one of the toughest neighbourhoods of Nairobi (see What can be achieved by a good teacher 3 March 2013) and the Gala for Ghana 4 Feb 2014 which brought together some of the biggest names in dance including Elena Glurdjidze, Ed Watson and Lauren Cuthbertson who has just dazzled London with her Giselle (see Cuthbertson's Giselle 3 April 2016).
Cristiano's gala in Trecate promises to be just as riveting. He has enlisted some of his colleagues from the Dutch National Ballet such as Emilie Tassinari, Giovanni Princic, Yuanyuan Zhang, Thomas van Damme and Priscylla Gallo as well as dancers from elsewhere. Those dancers are some of the best of their generation and I have no doubt that at least some of them will be at least as great as Watson, Cuthbertson and Glurdjidze in 10 to 15 years time. There is a great video about the gala with some footage of Casa Alessia's work in Burundi circulating on Facebook.
Now if anybody wants to see these fine young dancers Trecate is about 6 miles from Novara which happens to be Cristiano's home town. For those who are interested in history a famous battle took place against the French 1513. There is a magnificent basilica with a dome that is almost 400 feet high, a neo-classical cathedral and the Broletto or forum. The town is not too far from the Alps. The nearest international airport is probably Turin which is about 60 miles away and served by BA and several budget airlines with direct flights to the UK
I should like to wish Cristiano and everybody involved in this show chukkas for the performance and everyone in Casa Alessiia every success with their valuable work.