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Julio Bocca: 1967—: Ballet Dancer

Soared Onto The International Stage

At 14 Bocca was offered a seven-month position with the ballet company of Caracas, Venezuela. He went alone, for the first time living away from his family, making his own meals. It was difficult but he remembered thinking at the time, "I've got my own contract; I'm a man!" he told London's The Independent. More importantly, during his stint in Caracas, Bocca first started to recognize the potential of his talent. The following year he joined the Municipal Ballet of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. There he made his first major stage appearances dancing solo roles in the classic ballets La Fille Mal Gardée and The Nutcracker. In 1985 Bocca returned home, this time as a member of the Colon troupe, not a student. The Bolshoi Ballet performed at the Colon that year and its dancers were impressed by the young Bocca. According to Dance Magazine, "Soon the ballet world, where rumors travel fast, began hearing of an astonishing new Argentinean boy." Not long afterwards the rumors were proven true.

In 1985 Bocca's family scraped together the airfare to send him to Moscow to compete in the Fifth International Ballet Competition. The morning of his departure, his family of five accompanied him to the airport. When he returned the following week, his family was joined by more than 5,000 cheering fans. Bocca had won the gold medal in Moscow, becoming a national hero in the process. "The whole thing was a complete surprise to me," he told Americas. "I didn't think I could ever win an award in a country whose school, as we all know, is the best there is." He had won with a flawless performance from the renowned ballet Don Quixote. His performance the following night, however, was less stellar. "Then there was a gala for the winners, and as I started my solo I fell over," he told The Independent. "Of course I got up and continued, and thought, luckily I already have my medal and I'm not going to give it back."

Not long after his triumphant win in Moscow, Bocca received a phone call from the United States. Mikhail Baryshnikov, ballet legend and artistic director of the esteemed American Ballet Theatre (ABT), wanted Bocca to come to New York. "I accepted, of course. It's one of the best companies in the world and to join it as a principal at 19 was, for me, totally incredible," he told Americas. Though he arrived in New York City speaking no English and not knowing a soul, he soon found a home on the stage at the Metropolitan Opera House. The talent that had won him gold in Moscow captivated audiences. A review in Dance Magazine, was typical: "[Bocca is] an artist who can generate the excitement that prompts an audience to gasp, laugh in sheer amazement, and explode in an ovation." Renowned dancer Michael Owen told Harper's Bazaar that upon seeing 19-year-old Bocca dance for the first time, he thought, "He can do anything! He can fly!" However, Bocca brought more to the stage than amazing skill. He also brought an intense passion for dance and a willingness to give all of himself to the performance. "When I think about great dancers," an ABT coach told Dance Magazine, "it becomes clear to me that what the audience responds to is energy, passion, movement, and Julio has an abundance of all those things."

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Shennen Bersani (1961-) Biography - Personal to Mark Burgess Biography - PersonalJulio Bocca: 1967—: Ballet Dancer Biography - Began Dancing At Four, Soared Onto The International Stage, Danced For Argentina, Approached Future By Taking On Challenges