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This is a special cultural article about French dance. And you don’t even have to be a dance lover to enjoy it! This selection is a good opportunity to help you discover an emblematic place for dance in Paris and in France: the Palais Garnier, which is one of the two national opera houses in France, and the oldest one. You will also learn about the path and work of two professional French dancers. With virtual visits, audio podcasts or dance videos, immerse yourself in the world of French ballet!
Hugo Marchand has been a principal dancer (danseur étoile) in the Paris Opera Ballet since 2017. He has been part of many famous choreographers’ projects, such as Benjamin Millepied, George Balanchine, and the American choreographer William Forsythe.
This 11-minute documentary was published by the Paris Opera Ballet, as part of the “Parcours d’Étoile” series (“Étoile Experience”). Learn about Hugo Marchand’s training years in dance, his encounters and aspirations, through a discussion interspersed with dance excerpts. The video has English subtitles. Find other documentaries about French principal dancers on the same website.
Marie-Astrid Mence is a French ballet dancer who left her country to join Ballet Black in London. This professional ballet company was created in 2001 to celebrate Black and Asian dancers in ballet. Indeed, Black classical dancers are rare: the majority of the dancers in the Ballet of the Opéra de Paris are White people, and this old institution evolves slowly. Here are two videos published on the Ballet Black Youtube channel.
This video was posted on April, 2nd, 2020. This is a 4-minute interview in English of this dancer. Listen to Marie-Astrid Mence talking about her path as a Black woman ballet dancer, and watch her training in a short video.
This video lasts 14 minutes and was posted on April, 20th, 2020. Watch this ballet choreographed by Michael Corder and danced by Marie Astrid Mence, Sayaka Ichikawa, Damien Johnson and Jacob Wye.
The Palais Garnier is part of the Paris National Opera, being one of the two opera houses of the city. The building was inaugurated in 1875. This is an emblematic place for French dance, and it has hosted many famous ballets, but also operas and theatre plays throughout history.
This is a 1-hour audio podcast in French, broadcast by France Musique, about the history of the Palais Garnier, the Paris Opera. Its architecture was created by Charles Garnier and the building was inaugurated during an important night when all the Parisian bourgeoisie gathered! Discover many anecdotes about this emblematic place for French dance and performing arts through this documentary.
Audio podcast “On inaugure le Palais Garnier”:
As many other monuments and places around the world, the Palais Garnier is available on the platform Google Arts and Culture. Find online thematic exhibitions, photographs and virtual visits. Here, we recommend to you virtual reality visits to the main auditorium and the roofs of the Palais Garnier, where you can see the city of Paris. You just have to click on the previous names we mentioned and move your computer’s mouse or your finger to navigate through the places, and have a 360° view of them!
This is another video from the Paris Opera platform “3ème scène”. This time, watch a very short classical choreography video. It lasts 3 minutes and was directed by Jacob Stutton. What is interesting in this resource is that the two dancers were shot in the Palais Garnier, which is the most ancient of the two Paris opera houses. It is the opportunity to discover some of the rooms of this building, and even its roof, in a different way.