From April 14 through April 18, 2016, the annual performance by the students and pupils of the Paris Opera’s Ballet School will take place at the Palais Garnier. Centred around three ballets from the classical and contemporary repertoires, the dancers explore academic and modern styles with the same quest for excellence.
The “Dance Lesson”, the first part of Auguste Bournonville’s ballet Conservatoire plunges the spectator in the studious atmosphere of a ballet class. This 19th century vaudeville in two acts is testimony to the Franco-Danish tradition which Bournonville, the accredited choreographer of the Royal Danish Ballet was heir to. Often performed as a single divertissement, this extract is a moment of pure dance, illustrating the grace and precision of steps which were favoured over excessive virtuosity. Warm-ups or variations, the movements of the young dancers of all ages are highlighted in a work that has been charming audiences since its first performance in 1849.
Dating from 1945, Roland Petit’s ballet Les Forains is a joyous yet melancholic evocation of the circus world. A troupe of travelling performers cross the boards from stage-left to stage-right, setting up their own little theatre for the length of a single performance before setting off again, their pockets hopelessly empty, in search of new horizons. A true mise en abyme of the world of show business, the work uses an intentionally naïve style to depict some of the emblematic figures of the fairground: a pair of Siamese twin sisters, a clown-acrobat, a magician, “Sleeping Beauty” … A collection of poetic vignettes that express both the anxieties and the care-free nonchalance of fairground folk, and always perfectly served by the students' performance.
The programme closes with John Taras’s fantasy ballet Piège de lumière. Created in 1952, this magical tale depicts an unusual encounter between men and the animal kingdom. In the depths of an equatorial forest, a group of runaway convicts live off the spoils of their hunting and, when night falls, they ignite dazzling fires to capture whatever they can to survive. Strange coleopeterous insects converge on the beams of light only to become prisoners after a final dance. Two butterflies in love—an Iphias and a Morphide—fall into the trap; the male sacrifices himself to prevent the capture of the female. This production, which sparkles by its shimmering costumes, its subtle lighting and its choreographic inventiveness makes a magnificent finale for the 2016 performance.