Dancer, choreographer, teacher, mentor
@VIVIANADURANTECOMPANY . VIVIANA-DURANTE.COM
From Rome, Viviana moved to London to join the Royal Ballet when she was just 10 years old. At 21, she became The Royal Ballet’s then-youngest principal dancer, starring in Swan Lake as her first production. Since then, she’s had an incredible career that’s seen her dance most of the major roles in classical ballet, guest danced with companies worldwide, acted in film and theatre, taught ballet and been a mentor for the BBC, created new work as a choreographer, and, most recently, directed a Unite for Ukraine show at Sadler’s Wells. The longtime Kensington resident shares a few of her favourite local things.
Where do you live and how long have you lived there?
VD: I live in a small street in Kensington that looks directly onto the great glass arch of Olympia Grand. It’s a striking view so Olympia has always been on our horizon. We’ve lived there for 10 years, since just before our son was born.
What’s special to you about this area?
VD: It’s a green area that’s great for families, yet within easy reach of central London, and there’s a strong sense of community both in the street and the wider area.
What are some of your favourite restaurants in the area?
VD: I love Rosso, on the corner of High Street Kensington and Melbury Road, for its relaxed vibe and its classic Italian food with a twist.
If you are going to celebrate, where do you go?
VD: Akira, inside Japan House on High Street Kensington, is a special place for beautifully presented Japanese food. Opera Holland Park is a bucolic setting in central London and always punches above its weight.
Do you have a favourite weekend lunch spot?
VD: Six Portland Road is one of those perfect little neighbourhood restaurants and does a mean Sunday roast.
Who is in your local little black book for wellbeing?
VD: Whole Foods! And my son is obsessed with the Supermarket of Dreams on Holland Park Avenue. Orchid Beauty on High Street Kensington is an unassuming place that does great Thai massages and Vy’s Nails is always reliable.
Are there any other local businesses / venues that you can’t live without?
VD: Daunt Books on Holland Park Avenue. When our son was little we spent countless hours reading to him on tiny chairs, and the staff couldn’t have been friendlier.
Do you have an insider local tip to tell us?
VD: Two well-known places that have more than meets the eye: The Design Museum runs brilliant activities for budding young designers, and Japan House holds fascinating exhibitions and events that appeal to all ages. They both go the extra mile to make you feel welcome.
What are your favourite local green spaces or parks?
VD: Holland Park. It’s small enough that it feels like the area’s back garden but has everything from adventure playgrounds and sports to woodland walks and the beautiful Japanese garden. We also never tire of walking around the leafy streets.
Anything else you want to tell us about the area?
VD: It has everything you need, and will have still more with the rebirth of Olympia – yet despite the scale, it feels like an overgrown village. People are loyal to the area and families stay local. With everything London has to offer, we can’t imagine living anywhere else.