Hot Young Italian Dancers Wow Skating Fans

Articles, Articles by Barry Mittan

Federica Faiella & Massimo Scali

One of the most popular young international ice dancing teams is that of Federica Faiella (23) and Massimo Scali (24) from Italy. This isn’t a team that follows the old ice dancing adage that the woman is the picture and the man the frame. Both dancers are not only excellent technical skaters, but also very expressive, playing to the fans and bringing them into their performances. “We always say, and we really believe it, that it is very important for us that the audience loves our routines and get emotional from our skating,” Scali related. “This is an ongoing goal for us!” “I love to communicate to people emotions I feel when I skate,” Faiella added.

They would love to win another Olympic skating medal for Italy when the Games come to Torino in 2006. The dancers have been moving rapidly up the world rankings since they started skating together in 2001. Faiella had previously finished second twice at the World Junior Figure Skating Championships with Lucian Milo, while Scali was fourth with Flavia Ottaviani in 2000. After those pairings ended, they decided to skate with one another. “Faiella is a power woman,” Scali said. “She never stops.” “Massimo is always pushing me to skate better,” Faiella noted. “We have a great relationship.”

Faiella and Scali finished sixth at the 2004 European Championships and ninth at Worlds, improving from 11th and eighth in 2003. They also won their second Italian dance championship and placed third at the Bofrost Cup, fourth at Skate America and fifth at the Cup of Russia. “The season went well,” Scali stated. We really felt comfortable with our skating in every competition. The real difference was the fact that the people were really recognizing us. We heard it when they were calling for us before we were taking the ice and this gave us such a good feeling!” They will start this season by competing at Grand Prix events in France and Russia.

The Italians already have Olympic experience, having finished 18th at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, the same year that their countrymen, Barbara Fusar Poli and Maurizio Margaglio, won the bronze. “Going to Salt Lake City was a surprise to us,” Scali said. “Just to be here was a good result for us. We felt good about skating before the big crowd there.”

But the talented dancers don’t plan to retire after 2006. They plan to compete at least until the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, where they would definitely be among the top favorites if their progress continues as it has. As for specific goals, they only want to improve their performances each year. “We don’t set goals on results,” Scali noted. “Whatever it will come it will be fine. Of course if we will go up in the classification list, it will be great!”

Both of the dancers began skating at the same age – ten. “I went for lessons with my school,” Scali remembered. “We skated for two hours with an ice dance coach.” “My parents liked skating, so we went to the rink on Sundays together,” Faiella said.

The dancers switched coaches in 2004 from Walter Rizzo to Roberto Pelizzola and Paolo Mezzadri, who guided Fusar Poli and Margaglio during their careers. They train for five hours on the ice every day except Sunday at the Filaforum in Milan, Italy, just a few hours away from he Olympic venues in Torino. An additional two hours every day is spent in off ice training. “We do classic ballet twice a week, gymnastics three times a week and we are now planning to do also Pilates couple of days a week,” Scali said. “We love Pilates. We also take ballroom dance classes with skilled ballroom dancers.”

For this season, Pelizzola, Mezzadri, Natalia Bestemianova, and Andrei Bukin are involved in the choreography of the couple’s free dance, entitled “Two Souls Dancing for Love and Freedom”, using a selection of music from Aretha Franklin. “We found the music together,” Scali said. “We wanted to dance! We wanted to give to the judges and audience something fresh and entertaining.” Mezzadri, Pelizzola and Stefano Atti have done the original dance to the Slow Foxtrot and Quickstep rhythms.

But the dancers ensure that every free dance features one move where Faiella lifts Scali. “We wanted to insert an element to characterize our programs,” Scali stated. “Every year we insert a new one and we will do it as long as we will perform. We want the audience to wait for a new one every year. Last year was so amazing during Worlds, because when Federica lifted me I couldn’t even hear the music. The crowd was shouting soooo loudly for the reverse!”

The dancers are always involved in choosing the music for their dances each year. “Last year, we decided to use “Libertango” because we were listening to some music and when Libertango came we looked each other and thought it was just right,” Scali said of their free dance. “Music has to give us emotions and that music was just perfect for us. Moreover we wanted to put on the ice a real tango. The one you see danced by Argentine tangueros. We did our best to reflect the real tango on the ice not only with strong steps but also with all our body and face.” The choice was a good one as they almost always received a standing ovation for their free dance as more and more fans began to recognize the couple.

Their favorite dance style is Latin. “I am very happy we will skate the Latin OD in 2006,” Faiella said. Among the compulsory dances, Faiella’s favorite is the Golden Waltz, while Scali prefers the Argentine Tango. He also enjoys watching classical ballet off ice. “After skating, I would like to do something in the show business as a ballet dancer, maybe musicals,” he noted. “What I like most about skating is the fact that it is a non-static ballet. You can feel air when you dance.”

Neither of the skaters is much of a musician. “I played guitar when I was young,” Scali said. “Now I don’t know if I am still able.” He listens to all kinds of music with no particular favorites. Faiella said she listens to “whatever is good” but primarily Italian music. Scali is a big disco fan and loves to dance at clubs, but Faiella is more of a homebody. “When I go to the disco, Federica goes home,” he laughed. She prefers spending time with friends and going to the cinema to watch romances and comedies.

“As far as off-ice activities I am enjoying very much reading tons of books and especially cooking, coming out with special dishes for Federica, myself and friends,” Scali said. “Federica washes tons of dishes after I cook. I have also started painting.” “I do knitting,” Faiella said. “I am currently preparing the birthday present for Massimo. Although they are not a couple off ice, they live together and have shared pets “We just have an aquarium with fishes,” Faiella said. “No other pets as we travel a lot and don’t have time enough for a pet. We had a little rabbit but when he passed we decided not to have any pets anymore.”

Both skaters like to go to the beach for holidays. Faiella’s favorite trip was to Sardinia. “I went there for holidays last year and it was really beautiful,” she said. Scali liked the Red Sea. “I especially liked the contact with a nature that I didn’t know before and different culture from mine,” he explained. She would like to visit Australia and take a cruise in the Caribbean Islands, while he would like to go to Egypt and visit the Pyramids.

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