Tradition and creation

Encounter with Sébastien Bertaud

By Solène Souriau 07 June 2017

© Julien Benhamou / OnP

Sébastien Bertaud

Tradition and creation

Sébastian Bertaud, Bruno Bouché, Simon Valastro and Nicolas Paul, all dancers with the Paris Opera, offer us their creations for the company’s dancers on the stage of the Palais Garnier. An opportunity to examine the choreographer’s profession and, more importantly, to reveal to the public four personalities, four of today’s dancers and four choreographers of tomorrow.

Your piece is entitled Renaissance. In what sense do you employ the term?

I was trained at the Paris Opera Ballet School and I carry that heritage within me. Having worked with a lot of contemporary choreographers over the last few years, I feel the need to return to the sources of my experience. With Renaissance, I’m seeking to revive a tradition by inscribing it in our own epoch.

To what style have you given preference?

I wanted to create a classical ballet for today, offering an up-to-date piece that highlights the particular skills of the Opera Ballet’s dancers. I also wanted to revive a certain form of visual virtuosity that I have found in our history, from Louis XIV to our own times, from Versailles to the Opéra Garnier.

Why did you choose this score by Mendelssohn?

I chose Mendelssohn’s Concerto for violin for its refinement and elegance. Moreover, the virtuosity of the violin, the solo instrument, echoes the point work of the ballerinas.

You called upon Olivier Rousteing for the costumes. What prompted this choice?

Fashion and dance have often maintained a special relationship. Pierre Balmain dressed many dancers during the fifties, collaborating notably with Serge Lifar. Olivier Rousteing is currently director of the Maison Balmain and his style, which continues in that tradition of audacity and refinement, corresponds to our epoch.

o Bouché, Nicolas Paul, Sébastien Bertaud, Simon Valastro à la Rotonde Zambelli, Palais Garnier
o Bouché, Nicolas Paul, Sébastien Bertaud, Simon Valastro à la Rotonde Zambelli, Palais Garnier © Julien Benhamou / OnP

Where does this piece fit into your career as a choreographer?

Renaissance is certainly the culmination of a cycle. For the first time, I have created a group piece for dancers with whom I have been sharing the stage of the Palais Garnier for seventeen years.

In your opinion, where does the work of the dancer stop and that of the choreographer begin?

I feel just as much a dancer as I do a choreographer. My work as a choreographer forms a continuum with my work as a dancer and I certainly do not see it as a change of career. The year I’ve spent at the Academy, in parallel with my season as a dancer, has allowed me to stretch myself.

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