Located near Nanterre’s André Malraux Park, not far from the underground rail line linking it to the Opera, the Ballet School was conceived in order to reproduce spatially the different times in children’s day. Three building wings connected by walkways stand aside one another on a vast parcel of land bordered on one side by the town and nature on the other: the dance building, the general education and administrative wing, and the hall of residence. Right away, the eye is drawn by the whiteness of the slender, curved lines of the building’s architecture, its picture windows awash with daylight and the verdant surroundings that frame the serene setting.
Facing the park, in the dance wing, a large spiral staircase provides access to the studios via a panoramic promenade punctuated by landings where students can gather. From the entrance, a covered gallery leads to the general education wing where elementary and high-school level classes take place. The residential wing is linked to the other buildings by a glass arcade channeling the students’ movements throughout the day. The rooms have been designed for three students. Each student has a window view and a bed-cabinet-desk unit separated by a low partition. The windows look out on the distant city to dissociate the dance activities of the day from the evenings which are set aside for rest and relaxation. Finally, a fourth space – the courtyard and garden – surrounds the entire building. Here, during the day, the children can relax between classes.
Ballet is taught at six levels. It is open to girls and boys. It is a multidisciplinary course which, as well as the different dance lessons (classic, character, contemporary, jazz and folk), offers additional lessons in music, mime, theatre, entertainment law, history of dance, anatomy and physical preparation. General teaching (national curriculum) is dispensed at the school from primary school to the baccalaureate (literary section). As long as the student is enrolled at the ballet school, he or she must continue to study, even after the age of 16.
The following are an integral part of the curriculum:
The "Défilé" of the corps de Ballet and the school
The Ballet School Demonstrations
The Ballet School Annual Show These three events take place on the stage of the Palais Garnier in front of an audience. In some years, tours in France or abroad may be added.
Accommodation and meals
The School possesses a canteen open from Monday to Friday and a boarding house open from Sunday evening to Friday evening. Half-board is mandatory but not the boarding house which is a service proposed to families.
Families must be able to collect their child in the event of sickness or accident (at the School or the Clinique at la Defense or another emergency service). For this reason, it is imperative for families living beyond the Paris region to have a correspondent in the Paris region. Teaching is free of charge, only the boarding house and the canteen.
Examinations and competitions
Teaching goes from the 6th to the 1st Division. Course work during the year is marked, a quarterly report is sent to parents. Marks represent half the points needed to move up into the next division, the other half comes from the results of the end-of-year examination.
Students in the first division have priority recruitment to the Opera’s corps de ballet. An internal competition is organized for this. Candidates having passed the competition and satisfying the general training conditions (having at least the French Certificate of General Education) join the corps de ballet as trainee “quadrilles”.
All students achieving the 1st Division will get the end-of-studies diploma. Students not joining the corps de ballet may remain at the Ballet School if they have not reached the age limit or leave.