Claude Bessy, Dancer Étoile and Director of School of Danse
Directors, ballet masters, stage directors, choreographers, architects, ... Octave discovers the personalities that have marked the history of the Opera which continues to attract the great names of music and dance.
Born in 1932, she entered the Paris Opera School of Dance at the age of nine and joined the Ballet Corps of the Paris Opera four years later. Nominated “grand sujet” in 1949 and Prima ballerina in 1952, she was appointed “étoile” in May 1957. She was given her first solo roles by George Balanchine in Le Palais de cristal in 1947 and then Serenade. Serge Lifar cast her in Septuor and Blanche Neige (1950). She was the first to perform the role of Océanide in Les Noces fantastiques (Lifar, 1954) and of Vénus in La Belle Hélène (Cranko, 1955). Invited to the United States by the American Ballet Theatre, she flirted with Hollywood, appearing in the musical Invitation to the Dance alongside Gene Kelly who then came over to Paris in 1960 to regulate his Pas de Dieux: jazz had made it to the Paris Opera! Victim of a car accident in 1967, she returned to the stage a few months later in Daphnis et Chloé: the audience gave her a standing ovation. In 1970, she scheduled Maurice Béjart at the Palais des Sports and performed the leading role in Boléro there. In 1973, she took up her post as director of the Paris Opera School of Dance. There, she instigated the Demonstrations, established the annual production and took her pupils on tour. At the head of the school until 2004, in 1987 she inaugurated the new building in Nanterre which was designed by the architect Christian de Portzamparc. As a choreographer, Claude Bessy regulated Studio 60, Les Fourmis and Play Bach (1966) and conceived Concerto en Ré (1977) for the pupils of the School of Dance as well as Mouvements (1980) and a version of La Fille mal gardée (1958).