Elisabetta is a talented dancer and a great beauty. Her great loves in life? Dance and tattoo. In this interview she is only too delighted to tell us all about herself, her choices in terms of body art and her outlook on life based on love and freedom.
Hi Elisabetta, thanks for taking the time to talk to us! Would you like to tell our readers something about yourself: who you are, where you’re from, what you do and where you are right now?
Hi! I’m Elisabetta, born in Italy but with roots in Serbia and Montenegro. I moved to London a year and a half ago with the intention of becoming a professional dancer, but the city offered me new opportunities, including the chance to become a photo model.
Where does you love of ballet come from?
When I was five years old, my mother had to take me to an orthopaedic surgeon because I had a problem with my posture. The doctor recommended ballet and that was the start of my great love for this discipline.
And what about your love of body art?
I think most of the credit has to go to my ex-boyfriend. He was the one who got me started on going to conventions, in Italy and abroad, and it was he who introduced me to the best tattoo artists in every style. After which, Asia became my source of inspiration.
When you started getting tattooed, who was it you turned to?
I started at the age of sixteen. Totally random, without any idea of how things would evolve on my body. Since I was born in Arezzo, a small town in Tuscany, I went to Simone El Rana, who’s well-known on the tattoo scene. Let’s say that right from the start I was dealing with the best tattooists. To date, 80% of my body was tattooed by Flo Nuttall (who I came across by chance on Instagram).
I love the delicacy and elegance she manages to produce on my skin.
Going to so many conventions, I’ve learned a lot more about tattoo, so I’ve started to go to specific artists according to the kind of ornament I wanted to create and the part of the boy I wanted to tattoo. Just to mention a few: Marco Marini, le Sacre Linee for my ear, Aaron Anthony for my throat, Claudia Ottaviani and Cloditta, for my chest.
You seem to have a preference for black ink and you’ve concentrated exclusively on the upper part of your body… Is there any particular reason for these choices?
To be honest, no. I just don’t see myself with colour tattoos. One source of inspiration was a trip to the Philippines and meeting the Kalinga people north of Luson. Kalinga tattoo is a vanishing tradition and only the old women continue to “wear” their marvellous tattoos. One afternoon, while I was having a cup of coffee with them, I asked them what the meaning of their tattoos was. They told me that they do them “to be more beautiful”. The simplicity of their answer sums up what I am about. So straight away I focused on the more visible parts: arms and décolleté. But I do have an appointment with Flo coming up soon… to start decorating my feet.
Personally, what struck me most was the wings you have tattooed on your abdomen. Do you want to tell us what they mean?
That’s one of my favourite tattoos. It’s actually a cover, done by Giulia Luconi. The wings stand for me, a free person… free to be me! And for me, freedom is number one. I am still horrified at the extent to which we are prisoners of the society we live in. I’m reading a book by Osho (“The Book of Understanding: Creating your own way to freedom”), where he says: “Express yourself in as many ways as possible, without fear. There is nothing to fear, no one to punish or reward you.” Another meaning I associate with the wings is my desire to be reborn as a bird…if that could ever come to pass (smiles, ed.).
Getting back to the style: it seems clear that you have a penchant for tattoos which seem to have a certain spiritual depth. Do you want to tell us about it?
As I just said, some of my inspiration comes from my travels in Asia. Above all in the Philippines, in the province of Kalinga. There I also got the chance to meet the last and oldest Kalinga tattooist: Whang Od. That is the best experience I’ve ever had. But in any case, I didn’t mean to try for an exact reproduction of the traditional lines. What we were looking to do was to make the tattoo as personal as possible. I tried to put different elements together.
The lines are very fine and delicate and recall Indian henna tattoo, the iconography of the Indian divinites, and the form of the Kalinga tattoo.
So you’re a traveller? What does travel mean for you?
I would like to be able to say that my life is a journey. I am often asked what my goal is and my answer is what I am experiencing right now: working and saving so I can take off again. I cannot imagine going on living always in the same place, with the same people, doing the same things. It would be the death of me. I think that we are all brothers and sisters and I want to learn about and listen to the vision of others, to grow, evolve, learn and be inspired by everyone. This makes me feel alive more than anything else in the world.
Tattoo on the body of a ballerina seems to no longer be taboo (thinking of celebrated dancers like Sergei Polunin). But is that really how it is or are there still prejudices in your world?
Let’s say it’s no longer taboo. Here in London, they’ve actually asked for me in particular because of my appearance. But I’m not a ballet dancer. In the world of ballet, it’s harder to work with a tattooed body, and in particular, with tattoos that are very visible.
Just to get to know you better, do you mind telling us about a typical day?
I usually wake up early (I’ve never been one for sleeping late) and every morning I thank the universe for another day of life. Every day is a new birth. I go to the gym, work out till late, come home and am grateful for another day on this earth. Practicing gratitude is one of the most important decisions you can take in life. It helps you to totally change your perspective on things. When I manage to have some time just for me, I love to just lock myself away, with plenty of incense and palo santo, surrounded by my photographs, just to read and watch documentaries on my own.
What sort of plans have you got for the future and do you have any dreams? Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
I don’t like making plans for the future and just try to enjoy every day. I don’t have any big dreams except to keep on doing what I’m doing and live to the full, in terms of work, getting to know new people, accepting new opportunities and changes. It might seem weird, but I don’t have a vision of myself ten years from now. But I can tell you where I see myself really soon: in Asia, in lush natural surroundings, free to be naked on a beach with coconuts trees.
Is there anything you’d like to add before we wind up?
Yes, I just wanted to thank you for this interview! Another great satisfaction for me… Sending you love and blessings.