The dance and art performer Alessandro Lely brings us into his multidirectional universe, from crews to gaming art, via meditation and body care.
WOULD YOU TELL US WHAT WERE YOUR BEGINNINGS AND WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT PROFESSION?
I started in my hometown L’Aquila where I discovered breaking (namely break dance) and started practicing it along with artistic gymnastics. Later, I had also a way to approach the various styles of Hip Hop Culture (house dance, popping, locking, voguing, and waacking) and classical and contemporary ballet by studying in professional academies.
Both study and job experience in Paris and my present life in Milan have formed me into the professional figure I am now in theatre, television, fashion and collaborations with photographers and art directors, and for commercials and music videos.
HAVE THE ATTENDANCE AT MAJOR INTERNATIONAL FESTIVALS AND SPENDING TIME STUDYING AND WORKING ABROAD GIVEN YOU A CLEAR VIEW OF THE DIFFERENCES WITH ITALY?
I attended the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the most profound difference I noticed was in the organization of the city. The festival lasted for 3 weeks, and the city came alive to run the event. All the spaces that could work as theatre were stage, from a 30-40 seat university classroom to a marquee of hundreds with various rental prices, so that even a company with few funds could afford to perform their show and test it in front of an audience.
In Paris one can study many dance styles but what lacks is a clear management in the relationship with teachers that I found instead in Italy in and out the rehearsal room. In Italy I was able to create a relationship with the teacher more easily than in Paris and in my opinion this results into a more effective way of studying, receiving advice and corrections. In the Italian internships (6-8 days stay) some foreign teachers were very impressed by the existence of a competent organization that had a sincere care for the person.
YOU PARTICIPATED AS A PERFORMER IN MANY PRODUCTIONS FOR ART AND MUSIC VIDEOS AND COMMERCIALS, HOW DO YOU RELATE TO ARTISTIC DIRECTIONS AND WHAT CREATIVE FREEDOM EXISTS IN THIS AREA?
The relationship with the artistic direction is critical to the success of a project. For some jobs it is very schematic: presentation of the project idea, study and practice of what is to be performed on stage. After the supervision of movements that may be interesting, you have the material to put into the various scenes. Many times, you communicate directly on the set even while a scene is being shot. Being able to follow the music and the directions while dancing is as challenging as engaging; it is a profound sensation that is hard to put into words.
Over the past 10 years hip hop has brought more and more people together, including insiders. Today it is easy to find dancers with different specializations in the same project and this richness allows a lot of creative freedom.
WHAT ARE YOUR PARALLEL INTERESTS?
I have many, but the most unique ones are related to the East: manga, gaming, and martial arts.
I got into manga by discovering wonderful and exciting stories that created a before and after in my life, as in that of many other readers who came across.
The skill and expertise of some masters remains in history and in Japan has come to influence the gaming, a constant along with physical activity. Thanks to my father and a web content creator, I discovered what it means to be a protagonist in a story like those of the books, to be a participant in the choices of that world that changes according to the decisions made.
The practices of meditation and martial arts have disrupted and radically changed my outlook on life and the world.
COMPETITIVENESS OR COLLABORATION? HOW SHOULD ONE BEHAVE IN THIS PROFESSIONAL FIELD TODAY? IS THERE A THIRD MODE?
These two elements have been very present in my life since my teenage years. With the members of a small crew there was competitiveness because you wanted to beat each other in the circle and there was also collaboration because we were a group of friends who were inspired by videos and dance steps.
Even during a dance class these two aspects seem to feed off each other. There are both competitiveness among the students, and collaboration with the teacher; they must be put in the right place at the right time, as with the steps of any dance.
Competitiveness is associated with the desire to be competent; my experience taught me I succeeded in working with great professionals thanks to studying and training. The times when I gave up work for study paid off tremendously.
Being the dancer community rather small, collaboration should be the watchword. Having preconceptions that turn us away seems to me counterproductive.
IS THE RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR BODY IMPORTANT ONLY IN YOUR WORK?
Body care has always been very important to me since childhood from my relationship with my family members to the way I played. As I grew up, I began to suffer from atopic dermatitis, and this prompted me to reinforce my care by starting a nutritional path followed by professionals and accompanied by readings on the subject. I found that the way I eat greatly influences the state of the dermatitis in a positive way and it is the most efficient means of keeping it under control. I have noticed this difference also in training and work; the body is more ready and the recovery much more immediate. Changing my dietary regimen has been an amazing journey that has changed me physically and mentally.
HOW DO YOU SEE THE EVOLUTION OF THE USE OF THE BODY IN ADVERTISING COMMUNICATION?
I see it in a positive way, there are so many new visions about this type of communication. It is like in this era there is a kind of awakening of the body and everything related to it, a desire for awareness and newness.
DO YOU CONSIDER THE EVOLUTION OF PERSONAL STYLING AN ACT OF GREAT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION OR JUST CONFORMING TO THE TREND OF THE MOMENT?
I think it is an act of freedom. Instead, the trend of the moment is a seed that sprouts in a storm that only if it can weather it, becomes a custom that people will consider also in future trends.
There is a major revolution going on with many curious and interesting implications. I see Styling as a new language that has been finding ways to materialise in everyday life over the past few years, constantly multiplying and updating its vocabulary. I am looking forward to seeing what horizons this language can still show us.
BEING vs APPEARING - WHAT IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH SOCIAL MEDIA?
I try to be while appearing on social media (lmao), with all the limitations of virtuality. I strive to be present avoiding being smothered in the mass of information that social produce. On Instagram on the one hand, I try to give a view of my work on stage and behind the scenes through permanent posts, while on the other hand I show moments of daily life that can be curious, bizarre, funny through temporary content. The challenge is to be able to convey a message, and that’s a very complex game. I have also tried to stream video-ludic and dance content or training tracks on some platforms, but these formats demand technical preparation. Thus, it is very complex to manage a regular schedule on your own together with the content you want to bring and its preparations.
WHAT ARE THE PROSPECTS FOR YOUR PROFESSIONAL FUTURE?
I would like to collaborate with film and/or video game production. In recent years a special technology has been used to record (track) body movements and then digitise and use them as motion assets for the most varied subjects; I would love to explore this type of work environment.