As we close out the year 2013, we look back and celebrate the 300 year anniversary of the French school of dance, founded in 1713.
The oldest academy of dance in the western world, the French school focuses on “the primacy of harmony, the coordination of movements, the accuracy of positions, and the disdain of prowess” (culture.fr). Today, 95% of the graduates from this school form the Opera Ballet, which shares the gorgeous, monumental Palais Garnier with the Paris Opera.
Louis XIV, the French king famous for his lavish palace at Versailles, founded the French school of dance in 1713. He was an avid supporter of ballet. In fact, his familiar epithet, the “Sun King,” derives from his own experience as a dancer. As a youth, he performed the part of Apollo, the god of the sun, in Le Ballet de la Nuit wearing a glorious golden costume. He danced often and gained great acclaim as a performer.
|Henri Gissey, Louis XIV dans Le Ballet de la Nuit, 17th century. Graphics, Pen, wash and gouache.
Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.
The next event on the Opera Ballet’s calendar is a staging of Tchaikovsky’s “Sleeping Beauty” (« La belle au bois dormant »). First performed in Saint Petersburg in 1890, the ballet was inspired by French author Charles Perrault’s fairy tale of the same name. Tchaikovsky and the choreographer Marius Petipa “imagined a ‘fairy-tale ballet’ in which dream and reality overlap and where fairies and godmothers, and the forces of Good and Evil fight over the fate of two young people” (Paris Opera Ballet).
“It was not until 1989 that Rudolf Nureyev restaged the work based on the original choreography for the Paris Opera Ballet. Readopting the original order and structure of the piece, passed on by generations of dancers, he devised a choreography of dazzling academic virtuosity, alternating between lavish ensembles and pas de deux. The sumptuous sets and costumes by Ezio Frigerio and Franca Squarciapino recreate the splendour of one of the most outstandingly accomplished masterpieces in the classical repertoire” (Paris Opera Ballet).
« La belle au bois dormant »
Place de la Bastille 75012 Paris
Métro : Bastille lignes 1, 5 et 8, RER Gare de Lyon
Bus : 20, 29, 65, 69, 76, 86, 87, 91
Parking : Opéra Bastille, 34 rue de Lyon