During my work experience at the Ballet, a few of the dancers very kindly answered some questions for me:
The answer to my first question “Why did you choose the Ballet du Capitole?” was always pretty much the same: it’s a smaller ballet company with a very interesting and varied repertoire (a good mix of classical, neo-classical and contemporary); some of the dancers just wanted to try something new. They all love dancing here, and say there is a very good atmosphere.
I asked them whether they usually work more with the ballet masters or the choreographer. “The ballet master gives us the class, teaches us the choreography, and gets us to work on it. The choreographer polishes our work at the end of the cycle”, answered Simon from Paris. Others told me it depends on the piece, but they can sometimes get to work a lot with the choreographer.
“Do you participate in the choreography?” The dancers told me it definitely depends on the choreographer; some have a very set idea of what they want, like Kader Belarbi who is the Director of Dance at the Capitole, and some will get you to participate more. The dancers can always however interpret the choreography in their own way.
When I asked them which was their favourite piece in the Capitole’s repertoire, some said they really couldn’t choose! But many said they loved ‘L’Oiseau de Feu’ by Maurice Béjart. I also asked them whether they preferred classical or contemporary pieces; a lot of them had a very definite preference for one or the other (most of them classical).
I was curious about the differences between dance in France and in their own country or countries they have studied in… The answers to this question were very interesting (many were comparing England and France). A lot of the dancers with experience in England told me they felt a lot more pushed to excel in the UK, and that all the dancers had to be together and perfect (some saw this as positive and others not). In France, it’s a bit more diverse. However, Philippe – a French dancer who has danced in many different countries (not including England) – said the opposite. “The ‘real’ technique of ballet was created in France, and I feel like we have kept that very precise technique. I personally prefer it, it suits my style of dancing better,” he told me. Philippe thinks dance is a lot more free and diverse in other countries, for example in the US where the dancer is seen more as an individual artist.
Juliette, a former dancer in Düsseldorf, Germany, told me she liked German companies for their organisation and professionalism. Jackson from Toronto, Canada, also said he enjoyed working in Germany: “I guess I found Germany to have the best dance scene because it was the most liberal, innovative, and supported.”