My Quest for Stardom as a Dancer
I HAD just turned 12 when I made my debut as a dancer in my hometown of Rome, Italy. That was in 1945, right after the second world war.
Just imagine how it was for a child who had seen and felt the effects of that frightening slaughter to get up on the dance floor and do just what she liked doing most—dance! I was thrilled!
From dancing in chorus lines, I moved eventually to becoming a solo dancer. I specialized in Afro-Cuban, Oriental, and Hawaiian styles, but I also did various rumbas, cha-chas, tangos, boogie-woogies, and other dances in vogue at the time.
Dancing opened the doors to fascinating new worlds for me. In the 1950’s, for example, I appeared in well-known films, including War and Peace and Quo Vadis. It was a thrill to work with celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor, May Britt, Eleanora Rossi Drago, Robert Taylor, Valentina Cortese, and Gabriele Ferzetti.
In my quest for success, I traveled from one end of the world to the other, visiting Aden, Yemen; Cape Town, South Africa; London, England; Bangkok, Thailand; Tehran, Iran; and various cities in Australia. Success had finally come. While I was yet 19, I was enjoying the so-called beautiful world.
The exhausting training and the harsh treatment I went through to keep in form and remain physically attractive were very difficult. However, when I thought of the success that I had already achieved and my goal of becoming even more famous, I readily accepted such rigors.
In the circles in which I traveled, wealthy and respected people rubbed shoulders with thieves, drug pushers, and mafiosi. It was an unimaginably immoral world, a world saturated with drugs, alcohol, immorality, and violence. But that was of little concern to me at the time. My life centered on dancing and a luxurious life-style of expensive cars, jewelry, clothes, and famous hotels.
Although I made plenty of money, most of it ended up in the pockets of my managers. To maintain the standard of living I had become accustomed to, I found a daytime job as a cashier. And sad to say, I stooped to violating my principles and engaged in immoral activity.
My Return Home
In 1965, after enjoying considerable professional success abroad, I decided to return to Italy to devote myself to becoming a truly great dancer of our time. I thought my experience and reputation abroad would open doors for me at home. Instead, I experienced stinging disillusionment. The road to success seemed suddenly blocked.
In time, I began performing in squalid nightclubs and discos. I felt alone, trapped in a corrupt environment and forced to give in to all sorts of threats and violence. I had two abortions and almost died. What a price to pay for my foolish quest for success! When I had reached rock bottom, I found something that has made my life a real success.
A Momentous Day in My Life
It was a summer afternoon in 1980, and I was on my way to the swimming pool near my apartment in the province of Alessandria. There I met a friend, who made a strange request. “Will you accompany me to a Bible study that I am having with one of Jehovah’s Witnesses?” she asked.
“Jehovah? And who is Jehovah?” I wanted to know.
“Jehovah is God’s name,” she answered.
An animated conversation followed that made me forget all about swimming. I drove my friend to visit the Witness lady, and I asked if I could join the Bible study. I imagined I would find a mysterious atmosphere, perhaps some guru or holy person performing strange and macabre rites in suffused light. Instead, I found myself in a normal house before an ordinary woman who very courteously invited us in. The study was in the third chapter of the book The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life, entitled “Who Is God?”
Learning that God has a personal name and that the name of God is “Jehovah” was an extraordinary revelation to me. (Psalm 83:18) I thought to myself, ‘If the churches have hidden even the name of God, who knows what other truths they may have hidden!’ I asked the Witness how much her lessons cost and was very surprised to learn that they were free. In the world I lived in, nobody did anything for nothing. I was encouraged to begin a study of the Bible.
I had little free time because of my work schedule—I was still fulfilling dance engagements in various cities. Yet, I couldn’t wait for this lady to come and visit me so that I could learn more about the true God, Jehovah. Besides learning that God has a name, I discovered that Jesus and God are not the same person. They are not part of a Trinity. I also discovered how wrong I was to think that God was dead! Instead, I now began to become acquainted with a real Person, a God who is alive and who is accomplishing things!
I finally found the will to live! How grateful I am to Jehovah! I began to attend all the meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses. There I gained a better understanding of the marvelous qualities of this loving and merciful God. This was very comforting to me, considering the kind of life I had led. Seeing the calm serenity on the faces of those at the meetings in the Kingdom Hall, I realized I had found a truly beautiful world, and I was determined never to leave it.—Psalm 133:1.
However, I began to realize that if I wanted to live in that world, I would have to make some big changes in my life. After attending a convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses and hearing Bible principles clearly explained, I firmly decided I would modify my life. I quit dancing, which until then had been my great joy in life. I left the man I had been living with for the previous six years and completely severed all links with my past life and the corrupt show-business environment. I also destroyed addresses and mementos of impresarios and so-called friends.
A New Life
At this point, I was out of work and homeless, yet I was learning to put my full trust in Jehovah. Since I was in financial need, I sold my valuable things—car, fur coats, jewelry—the things I thought symbolized real success in life. For secular work, I began scrubbing the stairs of apartment blocks and doing cleaning for families. I have discovered that real success in life is measured, not by possessions or position, but only by whether one has the blessing of Jehovah.
On April 23, 1983, I was baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. There were no photographers surrounding me that day, only fellow Witnesses who were happy to welcome a new praiser of Jehovah to their midst. Soon afterward I left for Australia to help my brother learn the marvelous things I had learned. Even though he and his children did not share my enthusiasm for Bible truth, my stay in Australia turned out to be very fruitful.
I was soon able to enter the full-time ministry as a pioneer and found many Italians living in Australia who showed an interest in the Bible. In time, I was conducting many progressive Bible studies. Then, in 1985, I moved back to Italy. At first I had difficulty getting settled in, but now I have a small apartment and live on a pension, which allows me to serve as a full-time minister and attend all congregation meetings.
For many years I desired success in dancing more than anything else. I thought that glory and fame were everything. I tried to imitate worldly idols. How different everything is now! Of course, dancing is something wonderful, but now I have discovered that real success in life comes in helping others learn about the marvelous promises of Jehovah God, not in living for personal glory.
I confidently await the fulfillment of the marvelous promise: “Hope in Jehovah and keep his way, and he will exalt you to take possession of the earth. When the wicked ones are cut off, you will see it.” (Psalm 37:34; 2 Peter 3:13)—As told by Edvige Sordelli.
[Blurb on page 13]
I appeared in well-known films, including War and Peace and Quo Vadis