This week, some students from the Royal Ballet School travelled all the way to the Paris Opera Ballet School. The first division of our school had previously been to Denmark just before the Christmas holidays. While spending the week with them, I have learnt a lot about their school, but also about them and their habits.
These people told us “We come in peace” right upon their arrival. They are pupils, just like us, who also learn ballet to become dancers in the future. Their everyday life is organized in a very different way from ours: in the morning we go to our academic classes and in the afternoon we have our ballet classes, while they begin the day with one ballet class, then attend the academic classes and finish with ballet again. Their year ends with a decisive exam.
They told me that only the pupils living on the Danish island where the school is built don’t live in the boarding house of the school, which represents twelve students. Just like us, they take part in many performances, but the performances never encroach on the school exams. At the Royal Danish School, pupils attend adage classes, contemporary classes, Pilates classes, gymnastic classes for the boys while girls take pointes classes, “Bournonville Technique” classes, some time for their “Company B” and of course, ballet classes.
In “Bournonville Technique” classes, pupils learn to dance in the same way as August Bournonville (a Danish choreographer from the 19th century). This technique is not learnt to be danced during ballet class. It has the same symbolic meaning as our baroque class, it allows pupils to understand how others were dancing before us.
The “company B” is a group of pupils of the last two ballet years. They perform shows in which they create all the costumes, settings, lights and even sometimes the choreography. They don’t really create everything they need, but they are in charge of all the decision making.
Meeting these pupils was very interesting for me, I hope a new school exchange will be organized in the future. We spent a whole week with them and they shared with us a very enriching experience. It would not have been the same without their enormous kindness towards me and towards all the Paris Opera Ballet School pupils.
Hippolyte, 4e division
20, allée de la Danse…
The Paris Opera Ballet School was settled in Nanterre 30 years ago on a vacant lot, creating a whole new neighborhood in the town.
When we catch sight of the building from the diagonal alley, we cannot perceive its greatness. We need to cross the discreet entry door to let the wings of the school spread: a curve for the boarding house building, a cube full of serenity and wisdom for the academic part and, finally, the mysterious and impressive circle of the dance building. These three distinct worlds are linked by a patio and walkways allowing the circulation, and reminding us that we are in the theater world.
Light-flooded through many huge windows, the main hall, today called the “Espace Claude Bessy”, leads to the studios thanks to a staircase with elegant, almost choreographed curves, taking the visitor to the rooftop of the school with a view on the park and the town.
The building of the Paris Opera Ballet School, designed by Christian de Portzamparc , contemplates the future, combining majesty and softness. For thirty years, it has sheltered the future dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet.
“I am filled with emotion while standing on this stage et realizing it is still possible. With the painful events we endured these past few weeks, in Paris and in France, leading a child or a teenager through an artistic path is more than a resilient act. It is a proof that we exist.
I would like to deeply thank everyone backstage, the whole team of the Palais Garnier we are very pleased to join. I also want to say to my team, working with me every day at School, that they are doing an amazing job.
Finally, my thoughts are with my teachers, pianists and pupils because thanks to them, I am strong. We are strong. So, let’s dare!”
Elisabeth Platel – Opening speech of the Ballet School Demonstrations – December 5th, 2015
Few students took part in the production Paquita for the 2014/2015 season and toured in Copenhagen with the Ballet of the Opéra national de Paris.
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