III. Eclecticism and plurality (1980 - 1989)

© Francette Levieux

In 1983, Rudolf Nureyev took over as the Paris Opera’s Director of Dance. During the six years of his tenure, he continued the strategy established in the 1970s by his predecessors Violette Verdy (1977-1980) and Rosella Hightower (1980-1983) but he systematised the alternation of classical and contemporary ballets. Using his international reputation to his advantage, he increased the number of invitations to foreign choreographers and focused particularly on those from modern American dance.
The progression towards a more contemporary repertoire could not have occurred without the joint efforts of the Paris Opera’s choreographic research group (the G.R.C.O.P.), led by Jacques Garnier. Established in 1980 with a dozen dancers from the Paris Opera Ballet, the group would succeed Carolyn Carlson’s G.R.T.O.P. and offer a programme oriented towards contemporary choreographic research. Nureyev associated the Paris Opera Ballet with this artistic endeavour by creating evenings that combined dancers from the G.R.C.O.P. with dancers from the Paris Opera Ballet on the stage of the Salle Favart (Opéra-Comique). The strategy enabled audiences and company dancers alike, more familiar with classical technique, to progressively embrace the new choreographic languages. As such, he was able to programme major names that were still little-known at the Opera including Alvin Ailey, Karole Armitage, Lucinda Childs, Louis Falco, José Limón, Mark Morris, Twyla Tharp and William Forsythe.


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