PRIVATE DANCER: Meet Our Fall Cover Model Jesse Sani

We get up close and personal with the beautiful, mysterious dancer from BalletX.

There is something reserved, something guarded, about Jesse Sani. Maybe it’s that intensely creative people always feel somewhat unknowable. Or maybe it’s just the burden of being insanely good-looking. “Jesse is a gorgeous man,” admits Tara Keating, the artistic coordinator at BalletX, where Sani, 26, is a principal dancer. “In a lot of our performances, he’ll wear his hair in a topknot, and people will come up after a show and ask, ‘Who was the man in the bun?’”

The son of an Indonesian father and an Italian mother, Sani grew up in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, often coating his aunt’s linoleum floors with lemon Pledge so he could glide around them. He trained in Miami, Manhattan (with Alvin Ailey) and the Berkshires before landing at Philadanco four years ago; he jumped to BalletX in 2011. “It’s fresh,” he says of Philly. “Something new is always happening here, new ideas. But then you go to someplace like Old City and see the history. I like that clash, that contrast.”

His sex appeal is easy to explain: the crazy hair, the tawny, flawless skin, the abs, those cheekbones. (Sorry, he has a boyfriend.) A self-proclaimed “gypsy,” he doesn’t know where the future will take him, but for now, Philly seems to fit. “We’re rough around the edges,” he says of his adopted city. “I love that.” 

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