Behind the Talent Factor: the worldwide success of Luca Tommassini

“I have always believed in dreams, and I’ve always believed that to achieve them you have to constantly nurture them, almost obsessing over them”: this is the mantra of dancer, choreographer, actor, videomaker and artistic director Luca Tommassini, an all-around artist. With his over-the-top and captivating personality, he successfully reached the forefront of showbiz thanks to his creativity and immense talent.

His debut was when he was still very young, next to Lorella Cuccarini in “Festival” hosted by Pippo Baudo in 1987. Afterwards he took part in many shows, again dancing for Cuccarini and for Heather Parisi. In 1993 he decided to move to the US, where his career had a breakthrough. Madonna chose him as a dancer for her world tour “The Girlie Show”, and he was also in the video “Human Nature” and the musical “Evita”. After that, all the US stars wanted him in their shows: he’s danced for Diana RossPrince, Whitney Houston, Kylie Minogue and Janet Jackson.

He also managed to achieve another big dream of his: dancing for a person that had always been his idol since he had been young – Michael Jackson, who called him to dance in the video for “Blood on the Dance Floor” in 1997. As a choreographer, he collaborated with Geri Halliwell in her famous video “It’s Raining Men” and for “Mi Chico Latino”, and also directed the video for “Ride It”.

Dancer, choreographer, actor, videomaker, art director: Luca Tommassini is an all-around artist

At the start of the new millennium, he returned to Italy and worked with Paola e Chiara, Giorgia (for whom he curated a complete restyling of her image), began working again with his friend Lorella Cuccarini as well as Ambra Angiolini, Elisa, Marco Mengoni and Anna Tatangelo. He was the choreographer of the Italian version of the X-Factor for 10 years, and then the artistic director of Amici on primetime TV.

The end of 2020 was the beginning of his collaboration with TIM for a huge institutional ad – the longest in history – which aired on 31 December with Mina’s unmistakable voice, thus making one of Luca’s longtime dreams come true: collaborating with the biggest Italian star of all time.
In May 2021, Luca curated the artistic direction of San Marino’s representative at the Eurovision Song Contest, Sehnit with the track “Adrenaline”, for which he also directed the music video featuring Flo-Rida, one of the most popular American rappers. In June, Luca signed the collection We Are Dreamers in collaboration with Dream Project Spa, with a special project in favour of the non-profit Pangea to support the dreams of mothers and their children with the creation of a recreational and educational space.

“Talent is a multifaceted value that can be interpreted from a lot of angles”

Over your long career you have worked with heavy hitters of international showbiz (including Michael Jackson, Prince, Madonna, Diana Ross) and also on the Italian scene, from Raffaella Carrà to Claudio Baglioni. Among them all, is there one particular experience that you consider especially meaningful, that you are most fond of, because it represented a turning point?

It’s hard to say which experience was the most meaningful, I’ve had many turning points: starting to work in the USA, becoming Madonna’s principal dancer, and also when Michael Jackson called me. If we’re talking about dance, each of those events has boosted my success, and over time my work has evolved. I’ve directed a Coca Cola ad, I’ve worked behind the scenes in television, as a judge in Italian and international TV shows. Many turning points in different contexts of my life.

We were talking about the many stars that you’ve had the chance to collaborate with – looking at the current scene, who do you think has the potential to reach the cream of the crop today, in Italy and abroad?

In the music field, Måneskin have certainly opened up the Italian scene to the international market, making it more appealing. Also Mahmood, Madame and Blanco. I think that here in Italy we have a tendency to always be very critical towards emerging local artists, and seeing people that become successful from the get-go makes us less “pricks” in our judgement of them. Yet in the cinematographic field we have always been known and appreciated, and now more than ever, also thanks to the new generation of actors. I really like Luca Marinelli, who has been quite successful, while among the youngest, I enjoyed Filippo Scotti in Sorrentino’s movie.

Talent is art, otherwise you’re just a famous person.

In 2015 your (partly autobiographical) book Fattore T, in which you started by answering the question ‘What is talent?’. Let’s go back to that, what is talent for you?

Talent is a multifaceted value that can be interpreted from a lot of angles. There is raw talent, which is innate and relates to art (it’s a gift of nature). But also an “entrepreneurial” talent that can compensate the artistic one.
So being famous doesn’t mean having talent, often today all it takes to be successful is sell yourself well and build a character on other bases, social media in particular contributes and helps this process. Talent is art, otherwise you’re just a famous person.

Which qualities should a dancer, and in general, a new talent in the music field have to stand out and make a name for themselves, professionally speaking?

When I was in the USA there were many Italian dancers, today Los Angeles is full of them. That means that the level of technique has become globalised, and also that Italians have something extra. Just to say a few names, consider the excellence of Jacopo Tisci, who became the principal dancer of the Bolshoi Theatre.
But if we’re talking about dancers outside a commercial level, it’s important to know many different styles, and have many years of study behind you. Of course, technique isn’t everything – personally, I’ve always chosen people that feel free while they dance, that know how to play, that know how to be silly without being afraid of seeming ridiculous. They have to be a sort of actor playing a role, I’m not interested in the perfect dancer. You have to be quick-witted and get into character, otherwise you turn out to be of little interest to the public, but also to yourself.

“I’m not interested in the perfect dancer. You have to be quick-witted and get into character”

What are your next projects?

At the moment, my most recent projects are the show with Enrico Papi where I’m the artistic director. Then I have also have the series “The ignorant angels” going on right now, where I was responsible for the choreography.
I just finished shooting the movie “Diabolik 2” and I’ve been working on lots of music videos, and many other projects which are still top secret. It’s been a very intense few months!

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