One of the things that differentiates dancers from other performers is their lack of hope to one day be famous. Actors and singers may hope to make it big, to be rich and famous, as it were, but success for dancers is something far less tangible. It does not come by way of fame and certainly not fortune. That is, unless you are Julio Bocca. Considered among the most important dancers of the century and the pride and joy of Argentina, Bocca fled Buenos Aires to Montevideo, Uruguay, to get away from the constant onslaught of fans and admirers. He had no intention of working at the long- defunct National Ballet of Uruguay (Ballet Nacional SODRE) upon having relocated. Rather, his move was motivated by the desire for peace and quiet. “When I retired from dancing at the end of 2007, I needed a place where I could go out, go to the supermarket, and have a normal life,” he explains. “In Argentina, that was impossible. People stopped me in the street to ask for pictures or an autograph. I wanted to be somewhere where there were fewer people. Uruguay has that. I found I liked it here. I met my partner, a Uruguayan economist, and that allowed me to experience life in a different way. Two years later, President Mujica offered the opportunity to direct the National Ballet of Uruguay.”The 80-year-old troupe became inactive following a massive fire that destroyed its home base in 1971. Bocca’s response to the president’s offer put an end to nearly four decades of quiet. “I accepted the offer because I wanted to give back to the young generation all I have learned in my 27-year career,” he says.Bocca hit the ground running as a young man, winning the gold medal at the International Ballet Competition in Moscow and a place in the ranks of the prestigious American Ballet Theater. He spent many years as a soloist with ABT while also performing as a guest dancer with ballet troupes around the globe. In 1990, he founded Ballet Argentino, where he spent more than a decade directing and performing. When he took up the reins of the National Ballet of Uruguay, he knew he was facing an uphill battle and came armed with a clear vision. “I wanted to make another great, stable company in South America that eventually could compete with all the greatest ballet companies around the world. We have so much talent in South America that is just waiting to be explored, stimulated and directed,” says Bocca.With every year, Bocca sees an increase in interest in what he and the company are doing, both locally and farther afield. “Every year we do four programs – one contemporary program and three classical ballets. The biggest audiences come to see classical ballets. This year, we sold a record 25,000 tickets for Giselle . I’m introducing 20th- and 21st-century choreographers little by little,” he says. “In 2013, we did a gala with works by William Forsythe, Jiri Kylian, and Argentine choreographer Oscar Aráiz. Recently, for our 80th anniversary, we had an Uruguayan evening with works by Demis Volpi, Martín Inthamoussú and Andrea Salazar. Our next project is to set Romeo and Juliet , the famous version by Sir Kenneth Macmillan, which I danced many times at the Royal Opera House in London and at the Metropolitan Theater in New York with ABT.” On its inaugural visit to Israel, the company will present a mixed program of classical and neoclassical works. “We have chosen the repertoire together with the local presenters in Israel and came out with a varied program that I’m very fond of, as it shows off the talents of the dancers and their technical virtuosity and great versatility. The program ranges from one of the greatest classical ballets, Don Quixote , to the contemporary and demanding style of Nacho Duato in Without Words .” Ballet Nacional SODRE will perform on October 16 and 17 at the Herzliya Performing Arts Center (www.hoh- herzliya.co.il). October 19 at the Yad Lemegenim Theater in Yagur (www.barkan-tickets.co.il). October 20 at the Performing Arts Center in Beersheba (www.mishkan7.co.il).