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23
Jul

Lord of the Dance: Francisco Bosch

franciscoboschsiantrenberthLondon's English National Opera will this week host A Tribute to Rudolph Nureyev (25-27 July). Spanish ballet star Francisco Bosch will feature prominently in the production, reprising roles originally danced by the legendary Russian-born Nureyev. Ahead of the performances, he talked to Out In The City's Michael Turnbull...

Rudolph Nureyev is a legend within the world of ballet. One of the 20th century’s true dance superstars, he was widely credited with completely changing the art. Before he danced, ballet would traditionally focus on the female lead. However, Nureyev – who became famed in the Soviet Union in the late 1950s before his defection to the West In 1961 – changed all of this. He gave the men more challenging routines, and became one of the ballet world’s biggest breakout stars. Nureyev died in 1993 from an AIDS-related illness at the age of 54. Now, 20 years later, the English National Ballet (ENB) are performing A Tribute to Nureyev at London’s Coliseum, showcasing some of his most famous routines.
Out in the City’s Michael Turnbull talks to one of the company’s principal dancers, Francisco Bosch, 30, about what Nureyev means to him, his own history within ballet and what it was like filming a love scene on screen with Colin Farrell...

Out: You’re about to star in a tribute to Rudolph Nureyev. Can you tell us a bit more about him and what he means to you?
Francisco: Well, Nureyev was a real icon not only in the ballet world but in the gay world too. He was a fantastic dancer and a trailblazer for his time. Before he danced, ballet was all about the women more than anything else. He changed that around; for example, he made the male's role bigger, gave them bigger jumps and more detailed costumes. For us at the ENB he means a lot because he was part of London Festival Ballet which is now the English National Ballet. We are doing his whole tribute to him with dances that he made famous or created. We're doing three dances from three different ballets and I am performing his dance from Song For A Wayfarer. Is he one of my heroes? I don’t really have heroes. I just try to be the best I can. That’s the thing about ballet – you just want to be the best you can.

Nureyev died in 1993 but he's still only one of a handful of famous ballet dancers. Why do you think that is?
Well, I think he was really young when he became big so he was at the top for a long time. He also appeared on TV a lot, something not many ballet dancers do. I mean, he was on The Muppet Show with Miss Piggy! So when you put yourself out there in those situations, a lot of people will remember you for a lot of different things rather than solely for your ballet. For example, another famous ballet dancer, Mikhail Baryshnikov, played Carrie's Russian artist boyfriend Aleksandr Petrovsky in the final season of Sex and the City. He was also in a movie called White Knight, which I love. He’s amazing in it.

Which is your favourite of Nureyev’s performances?
He is very well known for Corsaire and that was great. You can see the videos online. I think that is probably my favourite.

Ballet and opera seem to have an elitist reputation. Is that a fair statement? Do you see it changing?
I know it used to be true. I hope it’s changing. I remember a time when people would get dressed up to go to the theatre. Now you don't see that so much. But these days we are trying to make it affordable for everyone so it's not just for the wealthy. Has the recession affected ballet? I don't think ballet is suffering here but it is elsewhere - for example Spain, where I'm from. But people are still coming. If you really want to see something, you will find a way. In the UK we are lowering our prices to encourage them and people are still coming. Some tickets start as low as £10. We are trying to get everyone to come along now. We are travelling all over the country. If you can build a stage in a venue then we will be there!

Where’s the smallest place you’ve performed?
Well, we do a lot of soirées. The smallest place we danced was probably at The Dorchester in London. They built a small stage there and we danced at one of the biggest galas. I think for our tour, Oxford is the smallest and Manchester is the biggest. That venue is huge. I haven’t danced in The Royal Opera House yet: the company did it before I joined. But I would love to perform there.

At what point do you think you will be able to say ‘I have made it’?
I don’t think there will ever be a point like that. Every day you need to find a challenge to keep yourself going. I would love to dance more in Spain. We used to go there quite a lot. But now we only go to Madrid and Seville. I haven’t danced in Madrid before and that is where I was taught, so I am looking forward to that.

What age did you start to dance?
I started with flamenco at a really young age. My mother's side of the family are from the south of Spain and it is very popular there. Then when I got to school I had to choose between flamenco, ballet or contemporary. My teacher kind of pushed me towards ballet. I loved flamenco but I also realised that it would kind of confine me to Spain, whereas ballet is big all over the world. You can move more freely with it and, to be honest, the more you do something the more you come to love it anyway.

Do you ever feel constrained by ballet? Do you ever wish you were trained in another form of dance?
I did a lot of different dancing when I was younger, flamenco, ballroom dancing, contemporary... I did a lot of different stuff but at the end I chose ballet. I mean I wish I could do hip hop and all that but I don’t think that’s for me! [Laughs]

Did you get bullied at school for dancing?
No. I think that's because in Spain, flamenco is more of a straight thing to do. It's more masculine, more passionate. Then when I moved across to ballet everyone supported me. So that story never applied to me.

What about 'coming out'? Did everyone support you then too?
Um, well, I came out gradually. There wasn’t a time where I was suddenly like ‘Whoosh! I’m out!’ To my family it took a little longer. They didn't take it that well at first, but they are very supportive now.

Are you seeing anyone at the moment?
Yes, we've been going out for nearly three years now. We dance in the same company and we live together. So we see a lot of each other! I did the whole "relationship with someone in the company" thing before and it didn't work out well. I told myself never to date another ballet dancer, but it happened again, and this time we're really happy.  It can be tough when you live and work together but when it works, it really works. We live in Battersea. I’ve been in London for sixteen years. Originally I’m from Valencia in Spain. I had no intentions of staying here but I was looking to leave the company I danced with in Spain and I knew someone who was working in the National Ballet in London. So I came here to dance for a week, got offered a contract and have been here ever since.

Where do you go out in London?
I don't go out that often as I work six days a week but I do like Soho. I love Shadow Lounge. I’ve been to Room Service and Gigolo a few times. When I first arrived in London, I was out a lot to practise my English and to meet people. But now we perform Monday to Saturday so it’s a bit harder.

How do you dance when you're in a club?
Haha… I am one of those guys that stand by the bar. I feel really uncoordinated. I don't really know how to dance to any of that music. People expect me to be able to put on a show but I just can't! [Laughs]

You’re very active on Twitter and Instagram. How do you feel about social media? Do you enjoy it or is it something you feel you need to do simply to gain profile?
I think it’s great. It can help or hurt you a lot. It depends how you use it. At the end of the day you put up what you want and what you want people to think. So it depends what you want to say. For my private stuff I have my Facebook, which only my friends can see. For everything else I have Twitter or Instagram where I post pics with my dog, Marlboro.

Besides the Oliver Stone film, Alexander, have you acted in anything else?
I was supposed to be in a film called House of Boys but it didn’t work out. I’d left National Ballet to do a few films and I was waiting for that but it didn’t start in time. Then I got the option to do a principal role in the company so I did that instead. There aren’t any film roles on the horizon but it’s something I really enjoy. I don’t think it is my time to stop dancing yet anyway. At school I learned to act as well as dance.

Lastly, I think we need to talk about Colin Farrell and that scene with him in Alexander
Haha… what do you want to know? Did I see him naked? Yes, we had a sex scene together! He was a really nice guy. Is he my type? I don’t have a type. Whatever happens happens! [Laughs] It is more about the personality and that connection. Me being Spanish, with dark skin and dark hair, you are generally supposed to what is opposite to you, but I have never been like that. Our scene got cut for the theatrical release anyway, but it was included on the Director's Cut on DVD. I think it was cut unfairly. A lot of the writers were fighting for it to be kept in. There was nothing showing. And I mean at that time they didn't care about gay, straight or whatever. It was what it was. But Colin handled it better than I did! He had to literally grab my neck and make the first move. I was too nervous!

A Tribute to Rudolph Nureyev will run for five performances only from Thursday 25 July to Saturday 27 July at the English National Opera, London. www.eno.org

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Photos: Sian Trenberth (B&W) and Guy Farrow (colour)

Posted: 23 July 2013

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