MILAN, Italy, APRIL 30, 2002 (ZENIT.org–Avvenire).- “Classical dance is a way to find and follow God, as well as his infinite beauty,” says Liliana Cosi.
Cosi is a former first ballerina of Milan´s La Scala Theater who has consecrated herself to God in the Focolare movement.
“Dancing is something that demands much effort and discipline, but I experience it as a great purification and immolation, through which I come closer to perfection, offering a performance of beauty to others,” she said. “For me, this is a way of bringing God to the world.”
Cosi, who comes from a non-practicing family, began her career in La Scala when she was 9 years old. “In the beginning, I felt very uneasy in that environment, where it was difficult to remain honest if one wanted a career,” she said. “I remember that I was happy only when I was dancing.”
Q: When did you discover God?
Cosi: When I was about 20, reading St. Catherine of Siena´s “Dialogue of Divine Providence.” I was overwhelmed by a desire to study further what I had intuited. Then I read St. Catherine´s life. I thought I had to leave the world, my present and future family, my career, and give everything to God, when in 1965 I met an exceptional person.
Q: Who was it?
Cosi: Chiara Lubich, foundress of the Focolare movement. I was 23. I was already in La Scala´s ballet corps and acclaimed in the Bolshoi.
Q: What did Chiara Lubich advise you?
Cosi: Not to go into a convent but to live my vocation as a ballerina on stage. Then I began to smile with heartfelt joy, to the point that my friends and companions of La Scala noted that all of a sudden I had become pleasant and happy. That same year I made my debut in Moscow´s Bolshoi, finding myself all of a sudden in all the newspapers and invited by all the television stations.
Q: How did you cope with success?
Cosi: Without ever changing my point of view, according to God´s will. Then I met a great figure of the dance: Romanian dancer Marinel Stefanescu, with whom I share the concept of art, not as something to be consumed and a business, but as beauty.
So I left La Scala in 1977, to open the International School of the Cosi-Stefanescu Ballet Company in Reggio Emilia. Students study for nine years here, and meet with difficulties because the world of dance and theater go against the values we teach them: to give one´s best to others, to do everything for others, to look for beauty in art. These are things no one teaches anymore.
Q: The number of students has decreased from 130 to 40. Why?
Cosi: For more than 10 years there has been no classical dancing on television. It only presents variety and cabaret dancers. The body is displayed stripped of its most noble part. The opposite happens in classical dance. Real beauty is the result of study, work and discipline that lift the body as a medium to express the spirit. This is beauty, purity.
Q: Is television to blame?
Cosi: Television believes that classical dance decreases the audience. Instead, what is needed is courage. And my shows, which always have a great following, demonstrate that young people are thrilled to find beauty. Youth is hungry for ideals and for God.
Q: Do you fear for the future of classical dance?
Cosi: No, because the young people who know it are in love with it, and they intuit that it raises one to God.