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History of Nervi Music Ballet Festival

Now at its fifth edition, the Nervi Music Ballet Festival is promoted by Comune di Genova, with the patronage of Ministero Italiano della Cultura and of Regione Liguria, and realized by Fondazione Teatro Carlo Felice di Genova, curating both its artistic direction and organization.
Fondazione Teatro Carlo Felice valorizes the highest forms of contemporary creativity in the field of music and ballet. Such a purpose is evident in the Festival’s focus on the great contemporary and classical ballet tradition and on the many dance genres of our time, presenting a program dedicated to the ballet and music enthusiasts. The Festival represents an important showcase of the genuine and powerful talent expressed by the ballet dancers and choreographers of every latitude, hosting since its first editions the étoiles Svetlana Zakharova with the violinist Vadim Repim, Lucia Lacara, the Spanish bailaor Sergio Bernal, the étoile of the New York City Ballet Ashley Bouder, the étoile of Bol’šoj Theatre and of guest étoile at Teatro alla Scala, the étoile of the Vienna Opera Davide Dato, the duo of Simone Repele – Sasha Riva from the Ballet du Grande Théâtre de Genève, the étoile of the Hamburg Ballet Jacopo Bellussi, the Ballet “Igor Moiseev” and the ballet stars of the Youth America Grand Prix gala, an exclusive Italian participation here in Nervi.
Nervi Music Ballet Festival is deeply rooted in the Festival Internazionale del Balletto di Nervi, an event that promoted cultural excellency and wrote pages of the Italian dance history at an international level. The historical Festival was founded in 1954 by Mario Porcile, who had directed it until 1982 and some further editions during the ’90s. Its last editions took place in the first years of 2000, curated by Teatro Carlo Felice and with the artistic advisory of Maurice Béjart. The last edition took place in 2004.
Despite his specialization in law, Mario Porcile was a ballet enthusiast and began organizing shows in Genoa after World War II. In 1953, he opened a ballet school in the city centre with the former étoile of Teatro alla Scala, Ugo dell’Ara. In 1954, Porcile met the Marquess de Cuevas, founder and director of the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas, thanks to who he conceived the idea of a Festival in the marvellous frame of the Parks of Nervi with the aim of valorizing the important tradition of Italian ballet, with reference to Enrico Cecchetti, Maria Taglioni, Carlotta Grisi and other relevant names. He wished to found a company representing Italian ballet and to create a new context where to invite the best foreign companies in Genoa. Thanks to the synergy between Comune di Genova and the big local private companies, on July 8 luglio 1955 the first show of “Festival Internazionale del Balletto” premiered in the Parks of Nervi. The 140 dancers of the Croatian National Theatre of Zagreb was triumphally acclaimed by an audience of 2600 people. That first edition presented on stage many renowned protagonists of the contemporary ballet scene, such as the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas and Alicia Markova.
The third edition of the Festival represented a special, epic event: the program payed homage to the Italian XIX century, and the great English choreographer Anton Dolin recreated the famous Pas de quatre which, in 1845, riunited the four starts Maria Taglioni, Carlotta Grisi, Fanny Cerrito and Lucile Grahn. Onstage, the three étoiles Alicia Markova, Yvette Chauviré and Margrethe Schanne ,sided by the young Carla Fracci who had just obtained her degree at Teatro ala Scala in Milan.
In 1961, Teatro Carlo Felice invited Rudolf Nureyev, who had just entered the company Compagnia del Marchese de Cuevas after asking for political asylum in France. Nureyev performed in the Sleeping Beauty with Yvette Chauviré and Rosella Hightower. The next year, Nureyev debuted in Nervi with Margot Fonteyn and the Royal Ballet; the famous couple, who was just established in London, performed for the first time in the Swan Lake.
Through the years, the most important ballet companies performed at the Festival di Nervi: Bol’šoj, Kirov, San Francisco Ballet, Corpo di ballo del Teatro alla Scala, Ballet du XXe Siècle, Nederlands Dans Theater, New York City Ballet, Frankfurt Ballet, Martha Graham Dance Company, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and many others. Since the first editions, the Festival invited also popular ballet companies such as the Mexican Folklorostic Ballet, the Romanian ballet, the Bulgarian ballet and the Guinea NAtional Company.
From 1980, for some editions, Nervi also represented an occasion to study with great masters thanks to the international ballet stage “Stage internazionale di danza”. Since the beginning, the image of the Festival has been bound to the name of Serge Lido, the official photographer of the event.
In the 2004 edition, the municipality of Genoa and Teatro Carlo Felice entrusted the artistic direction of the Gala to Mario Porcile in honour of the New European Union in order to involve the whole city. The guests were the étoiles from all the new adherent countries: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia and Hungary. The show took place the night of July 3 at Teatro della Corte di Genova. That edition of Festival Internazionale del Balletto di Nervi was the last one until 2019 when, after the renovtion of the Parks of Nervi, the municipality promoted the rebirth of a Festival rich in tradition and with an innovative outlook, presenting a new title from 2021: Nervi Music Ballet Festival.