That’s a grand jete that packs a wallop. Just sensational. Every element of the Italian-born danseur noble Jacopo Tisi‘s position is proper. His legs are equally rotated outward in his hip joints; his feet are fully stretched; the arcing curve in his spine that finishes at the top of his head is sublime; his arms beautifully hit the midnight and nine-pm points of his ‘body clock.’ He is cantilevered toward the ground, which indicates he is not even at the peak of his leap but in its resolution. That means 1) he either leapt really high and is on his descent, or, 2) they tricked us and dropped him down from the ceiling.
When Tisi performed “Le Corsaire” onstage during Reunited in Dance at Segerstrom Center for the Arts on November 12, 2022, he, as well as his fellow cast members, all who fled their positions in Russian ballet companies at the onset of the Ukraine war, had more on his mind than nailing his grand jete.
Here is Tisi’s evacuation story from Russia:,
Jacopo Tissi has worked at the Vienna State Ballet and La Scala in Milan, but moved to Moscow to join the Bolshoi in 2016. He danced much of the classical repertoire, rising to principal dancer in 2022, one of the few foreigners to reach this position in the Bolshoi’s history. He left in March of this year, announcing that he had made the difficult decision to leave the Bolshoi, which he credits with helping him become the dancer he is today, due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
In the days before Russia invaded, Tissi was in the process of rehearsing a new work by Alexei Ratmansky, based on Bach’s The Art of the Fugue. Ratmansky, who is half Ukrainian, left Moscow the morning after the invasion and over the ensuing days, Tissi made the difficult decision to follow. “It was such an unexpected and abrupt change” Tissi recently told Pointe magazine. “There was a sense of worry. We could see something was happening, but we couldn’t be sure what. The escalation was very fast. I could see the situation wasn’t improving, and felt a change in the atmosphere around me, and that’s when I made my decision to leave.”
“When the Italian government began encouraging its citizens to leave Russia, and I saw that borders were beginning to close, I realized it was time to go. When you live somewhere for five years, you form bonds, with friends, teachers, the theater. The idea of making such a sudden life change—a change that is forced upon you—is not easy. I flew to Istanbul, and from there to Rome, and from Rome to Milan. But I can’t complain. Colleagues crossed borders on foot, fleeing the war in Ukraine.”
“I worked for five years with Alexander Vetrov, who was my coach in Moscow. With him, I significantly improved my jumping technique, and he helped me to grow artistically. Working together, every day, he transmitted the Bolshoi style to me. This way of working is so unique. The Bolshoi has this amazing system of transmitting knowledge from teacher to student. This is how the style is passed down. I will miss my teacher, [artistic director] Makhar Vaziev, Svetlana Zhakarova [his main ballet partner], my friends. It’s not easy, not knowing how long we will be apart. The wound is still fresh. But I know that it is also important to look ahead and move forward.”
As well as appearing with Reunited in Dance, Tissi has returned to La Scala in Milan as a guest principal dancer during the 2022–23 season.
Great work here, as well, by photographer Tiffany Rose/Getty Images for Segerstrom Center for the Arts.