Davide Di Giovanni bows away from SDC

Rehearsing Bonachelo’s ‘Cinco’. Photo: Pedro Greig.

When SDC’s Sydney season of ab [intra] finishes in June, one of the company’s most charismatic dancers will step down from the stage. Geraldine Higginson catches up with him in the lead-up to the opening.

It’s especially appropriate that Davide Di Giovanni’s last performance with Sydney Dance Company is in ab [intra], He originated the spectacular (and unusually long) duet in the work alongside Charmene Yap when it was first created on the company by artistic director Rafael Bonachela in 2018.

Looking back, the creation of this duet – in what was only Davide’s second year with SDC – was a definite highlight of his time with the company. Furthermore, it led to an even more exciting opportunity only one year later when he and Charmene traveled to France to teach “their” duet to Paris Opera Ballet stars Eleonora Abbagnato and Stephane Bullion for a gala performance.

Davide describes the duet as being “very technical… it was based around the idea of ​​awkward encounters – and there is a kind of weirdness to the movement, but by the end you have two bodies moving as one. It’s very hard, but satisfying.”

Davide trained and danced professionally in Italy and Germany before moving to Australia five years ago. He received a full scholarship to the Scuola del Balletto di Toscana, then moved up to the junior company, before joining the main company of Balletto di Toscana. His next professional position as a dancer was with the Balletto dell’Esperia in Turin. From there Davide moved to the Staatstheatre am Gaertnerplatz in Munich. He has been effectively dancing full-time within a company structure for 15 years. While classically trained, he says he always felt a pull towards contemporary dance. “I love the ballet, the more I go on the more I appreciate It, but for some reason I felt I wanted to move my body in new and different ways.” Early in his career he was dancing works by contemporary choreographers like Jacopo Godani, Alexander Ekman, Gustavo Ramirez Sansano and William Forsythe, Mats Ek and William Forsythe, but he also has a particular fascination with the movement language of Jiri Kylian.

In 2020, Davide took part in the forthcoming movie production of Carmen, Choreographer Benjamin Millipied’s directorial debut which was filmed in Australia. “Being part of that was like a little escape during COVID. It was a fun project, very nice to do. I love cinematography and cinema in general – especially the old Fellini movies which I watched growing up in Italy.” [The film of Carmen is currently in post-production.]

Performing in Bonachela's 'Ocho'.  Photo: Pedro Greig.
Performing in Bonachela’s ‘Ocho’. Photo: Pedro Greig.

He says that being separated from friends and family in Europe during the pandemic restrictions over the last few years was very hard, but fortunately he was able to spend time with his family after SDC’s recent Parisian tour and is ready and eager to start his new, post-company life in Australia.

In recent years he has found time for freelance work as a movement director in the fashion world but ultimately his main goal is to teach, choreograph and direct. In 2019 he made his choreographic debut in SDC’s “New Breed” season with In Walked Bud – an intimate work for three dancers. Davide loves teaching, and during his time with SDC has taught both the company and students in the company’s Pre-Professional Year. He is particularly interested in partnering, focusing on a smaller scale, more intimate vision rather than a large ensemble extravaganza, and has continued to explore choreographic ideas and concepts with fellow dancers at SDC.

As a critic I have particularly fond memories of watching Davide Di Giovanni perform a key role in Jacopo Grabar’s stereotipico in last year’s “New Breed” – a very engaging and entertaining work. What made him a standout was the way he played it straight – maintaining a convincing poker face so that the audience could have all the laughs, right up to the unexpected final reveal alongside the rest of the cast. This role also displayed the obvious strength of his underlying classical technique and his ability to partner a range of fellow dancers with innovative and technically demanding lifts. When watching Davide onstage, one is aware not just of his matinee idol good looks (he would have made an excellent prince had he danced the 19th century classics!) but of his sensitivity to every partner and his commitment to establishing and maintaining the right mood for each job.

When asked what he will miss about SDC, and company life more broadly, he says:

“The routine, coming in every day, doing your class and being guided. The collaborations with new choreographers, and going on tour with the company. Especially the friendships built while touring together. During the most recent Paris tour I was aware it was the last one, so going out together night after night was experienced in a very beautiful and special way. I thank the company for giving me the opportunity to dance in beautiful places all around the world.

“To retire feels like a rebirth,” he continues, “but I know I want to be in the same industry. The stage has been my home for the last 15 years and it’s been great. I will always be part of the stage, just now through other people’s bodies and minds. I’ve been lucky to have never had major injuries but have always been pretty (well) supported and I will continue to dance by taking class but this time it will be just for myself.”

‘ab [intra]’ will be performed at the Roslyn Packer Theater in Sydney from June 2 to 11. For more info, go here.

With Charmene Yap in a scene from 'ab [intra],  Photo: Pedro Greig.
With Charmene Yap in a scene from ‘ab [intra], Photo: Pedro Greig.

Like this article? Read more interviews with your favorite dancers in the print issue of ‘Dance Australia’. Buy your copy from your favorite retailer or go on-line and buy here.

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