Abbé Perrin (Director of...
The word, as in the expression “sujet étoile” (star dancer), appeared as early as 1895, without, however, being defined. Initially qualifying the terms “sujet” and “premier danseur”, doubtless to highlight the exceptional qualities of the artists who had attained this standard (having reached the highest rank, the star shines with a thousand lights), its use seems to have become generalised in 1897, as testified by Joseph Hansen’s ballet, L’Étoile. In the libretto, the heroine, who is supposed to be the best dancer, is referred to as the “first dancer”, the “star” of the Opera. The title of Étoile first appeared in the Paris Opera registers in 1938 with the nomination of Suzanne Lorcia. The first to officially receive this title were Lycette Darsonval and Solange Schwartz in 1940 whilst Serge Peretti became the first man to be nominated Étoile in 1941. In the hierarchy of the Paris Opera Ballet, this is the supreme accolade awarded to dancers. A dancer is named Étoile in the aftermath of a performance by the Opera Director and at the suggestion of the Director of Dance. Today, the Paris Opera Ballet has 10 female and 7 male Étoiles. They are the crowning glory of the traditional annual Ballet parade, to the applause of the faithful, ballet-going public.
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