Sundays with Schoolhouse Moms (and Students!) Interview Interview 9: Dancer and Choreographer, Gabriella Borni

I met Gabriella a few years ago while working a language school here in Rome.  At this particular school, the students change every hour and you're never really sure who you'll be teaching on any given day.  Your schedule is posted on a white board that's to be checked once you come to work.  After a month or so of working there, I'd already chosen a favorite student and would be elated every time I saw her last name on my schedule: Borni.  We'd discuss everything under the sun during our conversations: art, dance, racism, dating, marriage, kids, places to live, etc. At the end of her lesson I'd be disappointed to see her go--in one hour she'd transmit this incredibly intense creative energy, and I always looked forward to our next meeting.  We kept in touch when Flavi and I moved to Texas, and she was the first person I contacted when we moved back to Rome.

Many lessons and years later, I am so happy to be able to call Gabriella a true friend.  She is wonderfully Roman--direct, feisty, insightful...a no-nonsense type of individual, and she's wildly talented.  A few lessons back we were working on her CV in English, and I marveled at all of her accomplishments, saying something like, "Wow, you've done so much."  "Yes, that's true...but I don't want to mention my Oscar nomination."

I almost spat out my water.

"Say what now?"  She repeated herself, took a drag from her cigarette, and peered at me thoughtfully.  She continued, "It's not like I won."

I laughed out loud! "THAT'S NOT THE POINT!!!!" I screamed.  "The point is the excellence of your work was acknowledged on such an important platform!  You HAVE to put it down on your CV!"  She was unmoved.

"If it were me, I'd have "Oscar nominated" tattooed on my forehead," I mumbled, and we changed the subject.

So, I'd like to take this opportunity to give Gabriella the intro she deserves but would never DARE give herself.  She's gonna kill me, but here goes:

*ahem* Ladies and Gentlemen, I invite you to enjoy my interview with the Oscar-nominated dancer and choreographer, GABRIELLA BORNI!

Name: Gabriella

Occupation: Choreographer and Dance Teacher

Affiliated website/business:

How long have you been in Rome and what brought you here? I was born in Rome.

Where are you from and how many languages do you speak? I speak Italian and French, and I'm studying English with Tamara. She is fantastic!!!

Have you lived anywhere else other than Rome?
Yes, I traveled a lot for my job, expecially in Europe--France, Germany, Switzerland, and Holland--besides that, the USA.

Tell me about your family background and structure:
It's not very simple. My family is Italian, but my distant relatives arrived from Spain in the 1500s--at this point we're all Italian.

Which language is your child more dominant in and why? 
In Italy now the English language is very important. I'd hoped that my daughter would pick it up by studying it at school, but her teachers have not been able transmit a love for it and teach this beautiful language--it's so very important and fundamental in life. In general the English language in Italy is taught very poorly and, moreover, in school this language is not very important.  It's given secondary importance. It's incredible!!! So all the kids don't study well and don't take it seriously.

How do you think languages are best learned? 
Languages are best learned when you are very young, or better yet when you are very small, or when you live in different countries--that way it's all very natural.

You are considering using our English To-Go lessons to continue improving your English in the fall. Why do you think lessons with us is a better choice than going to another language school?
Tamara is fantastic!!! She is a excellent for children and besides she is specialized in this area and holds three degrees in it.  I met Tamara four or five years ago in a English school in Rome, and I immediately became very comfortable with her; I found her to be the best teacher of the entire staff.  She is very sweet and good at what she does.

How many famous people do you know and do they need English lessons? No, I'm kidding.  Many people in Rome and in my school don't speak English, and there are many people who are very famous who don't know the English language. I hope The English Schoolhouse will be the first in Rome to develop this culture for the language.

What's your fondest work memory? 
My first job at the Teatro all Scala as a soloist, and when I found out about the Oscar Nomination for La Traviata as a dancer and choreography of the film.

How did you get into dance? 
When I was very small, so after for me it became my job.  I love my job.

If you weren't a choreographer, what other job would you like to have? If I weren't working with dance, I would be an astronaut so I could fly over world and look down and around at the magical universe.

You are Roman, born and raised, so I'm very interested to know your answer to the following question: What are your top 3 favorite restaurants in the city? 
The top 3 favorite restaurants in Rome are:
da Lino alle grotte del teatro di pompeo
a pizzeria from Anna near my house Baffetto 3
and this Japanese restaurant--I don't remember the square exactly now, but they have very good food

You live downtown--who are the worst tourists and why?
I see all of the tourist in general because I live downtown, near Vatican City and Piazza Venezia, and this is a crossroads very full of visitors touring the city on foot.
Our current mayor allows these tourists to do whatever they want--cross the street whenever they want without respecting the traffic rules, shout and get drunk in the evening (to the point where they oftentimes become violent), many times they go around dressed so indecent and vulgar...and throw everything on the ground: bottles and cards, without any respect for the city.
And if they did that in their country? Here they do it because it's not allowed in their country, and so they go wild.  In their country, it's prohibited with heavy fines and instead here...they can do it. Yes, here everything is permitted, thanks to our mayor ... and I won't add another.  At the end of the day, we are in Rome.....a fantastic city.

If you could live anywhere else, where would it be? I would live in the north of Europe, where there is respect for the arts, research, the city, culture in general, and people can find jobs.  Germany or Holland would be great.

What's your favorite place to hang out? In general, Germany and Holland.

Any good recommendations for a date night out? 
Yes, my terrace is a fantastic place, with music and candles.
I second that!

In your opinion, what's Rome's best kept secret? 
The secret is the ART, these incredible shows open all the time--but the big secret is the Vatican.  It's a big mystery for all of the people; that's where all of the real secrets of our story are: art and politics.
Just got the itch to watch The DaVinci Code!

Do you cook, and if so can you share a quick Roman recipe?
Yes, boiled potatoes with onion sautè in an omelet--this is not very quick, but it's very good.  For something very quick, open the salad bag, add olive oil and a pinch of salt and go! Fantastic!!!

What website do you waste the most time on?
 I'm on news websites all the time, and my email because I don't have much time during the day.

What's your favorite magazine?
 My favorite magazines are Dance European online, Sipario, il Venerdì, and l'Espresso.

What three languages, in your opinion, are the most beautiful? 
English, French, and Spanish.

Favorite children's book? 
Peter Pan and The Jungle Book.

What was the last book you read and how would you rate it? 
The last book I read was about Laban's story and his methodology. It was very interesting and I could easily connect it to my job.

Anything else you want to add? Shameless plug? 
Yes, for me you are a fantastic woman, an incredible teacher, a beautiful mother, and in the end a great friend.  This is what I think of you.

Thank you, Gabri.  I feel the same about you.

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