Alba Gonzales, the dancer who became a sculptor to dance again

Alba Gonzales, the dancer who became a sculptor to dance again

Dance, sculpture and love. Luigi Scirocchi, Sergio Leone and the Cavaliere Di lei, who wanted from her the centaur who rears up in the park of Villa Certosa, di lei Other works by her are scattered among the museums and streets of the world. She has won awards and the affection of many collectors

Alba Gonzales is one of those people who age only in physical appearance, because they dominate an art longer than themselves. In her case it is dance. When she left the corps de ballet of the Rome Opera she realized that she could continue with her hands, molding clay mysteriously docile to her touch if she thought of her dancing. She became a sculptor, and almost fifty years after her first exhibition, she still feels "in the muscles of her body the movement of the dancers" who then turn bronze.

Silvio Berlusconi wanted from her the centaura that rears up in the park of Villa Certosa, and another centaur of his rises in Fregene. The works of Alba sculptress, who has won prizes and the affection of many collectors, whom she invents bodies to continue dancing with her, are scattered among the museums and streets of the world. But the two most loved sculptures of her are the dancers that she keeps at home. “When I enter the living room, I regard them and greet them saying: 'How nice you are'”.

Why did he start dancing?

For the passion of music. My mother Paola played the violin and my maternal grandfather Sebastiano, Sicilian, was the conductor of a traveling orchestra. As a child I spent a lot of time sitting in front of the radio listening to music, but instead of the conservatory I enrolled in the Opera's dance academy because it was free and we, after the war, had no money. I was eight and a half years old, I stayed there until twenty-four.

Why did he leave?

I got married. At that time men wanted their wives at home, and since I was very much in love, love won. Had I been a woman now, I probably wouldn't have given up on dance. I met my future husband at a singing competition: I won it because I was a good light soprano, but he too had an excellent tenor voice which he cultivated as a hobby. Our daughter Silvia has inherited her talents: she is a soprano and composer. Very young, she wrote the incidental music for 'Gente di facile costumi' by Nino Manfredi.

When did you come to sculpture?

It happened that the Hotel Cavalieri Hilton commissioned the famous artist Luigi Scirocchi a 'Fountain of the Muses'. He came to the Opera to see rehearsals and chose me to pose, perhaps because I was the only dancer with a bit of shape. Watching him work made me want too, every time I asked him for a loaf of clay, I bought the ferretti, I began to model little things. I think it was between '59 and '60, Rome hosted the Olympics and it was beautiful. We danced at the Pincio for the athletes in an unforgettable evening.

What do you remember of the city back then?

I was born and raised in viale Giulio Cesare. I could hear the rustling of the plane leaves when the wind blew. I skated up to the Tiber and the streets seemed more spacious than now, the sidewalks wider. I remember the little garden in Piazza dei Quiriti where I used to go with my mother as a small oasis, without the traffic of now, without so much noise. It was a tidier city, perhaps people loved it more, but I hope I'm wrong and it's just nostalgia.

His first show?

At the Hilton: where I made my debut as a sculpted dancer, I made my debut as a sculptor. It was 1975, the exhibition was successful and I was encouraged to continue. Sergio Leone also liked it, his wife who, like me, had been a dancer at the Opera, brought it to us. I took a liking to it and went to work in Pietrasanta, where we got a house. Of course, I paid the price of every self-taught person: sometimes I created a splendid figure, but not having designed a solid internal structure, I had the displeasure of seeing it collapse.

Why the centaur?

For the charm of metamorphoses and for the possibility of working on symbols. It is a subject that I have sculpted in many versions with different attributes. The one for Silvio Berlusconi is represented with a dove. I also created the symbolic seats for the park of Villa Certosa: of democracy, freedom, solidarity, equality, science and progress and self-fulfillment. Now who knows what will happen to those works, but I am convinced that anyone who lives there will like them.

How do you design a sculpture?

At the beginning, more than the head, it is the hands that think. Often I start playing with the clay, just at random, then a curve is enough, the capture of a sign from which it is natural for me to continue to create an image, a movement.

What are you working on now?

To enlarge the sketch of a Pietà: the Madonna is depicted with her arms open like a cross, holding Christ.

Did you know they burned Pistoletto's Venus?

I'm sorry, even if I couldn't express myself with that kind of art, with rags. It certainly conveys a message, but every exaggeration of modernity doesn't excite me much. I like working on the harmony of shapes, on pure beauty. Perhaps because I have danced and dance still influences me, when I create a figure I always imagine it as if it were performing on a stage. As if I continued to climb it myself, trying to make the movement perennial in bronze or marble.

Will she sculpt or dance in the next life?

I would like to sing as a light soprano.

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