During my week with the Ballet, I got to see all the different departments that are involved in making the performance possible…
I visited the sewing workshop, where dancers try on the costumes and the seamstresses make/modify them.
I also got to spend some time with Alexandra Henocq, one of the theatre’s 7 prop managers. Their job is to design, create, make or buy all the props needed for ballets, operas, or any performance given at the Théâtre du Capitole. They are also in charge of the special effects: air (wind and smoke), fire and water. Alex works at the Ballet, where her job is also to make sure all the props are in the right places for rehearsals. She took me to see the prop warehouse, where all the props for the Théâtre are kept… It’s huge, and really impressive. I saw all the different sections – there really is everything from flowers, to chairs, to smoke machines, to an armory filled with every kind of weapon and armor you can imagine. This is also where they stock all the lighting equipment.
On another day, I also saw the scenery-making workshop; again, this is an absolutely huge and very impressive place. I definitely didn’t think there was so much hard work involved in making scenery! A lovely lady called Laura from the design office showed me around. First, there’s the design office: this is where they interpret what the scenographer (chosen by the director) wants. Their job is to think about all the technical aspects of the scenery, for example they need to make it transportable so it can all be taken to the theatre, but also easy to reassemble when it gets there. In the design office, they work on computers to make sketches and mock-ups of everything. They have a mock-up of the stage of the Théâtre du Capitole and of all the bits of scenery the scenographer wants, made 33 times smaller. When they have finished all of the sketches, they send them to the three other workshops in the building: woodwork, metalwork and painting. There is also a room for smaller pieces of scenery. It takes a lot of teamwork to make the scenographer’s dreams come true!
The last part of the ballet I saw was the dramaturge, who is Carole Teulet. This was a job that I had no idea even existed, and which I found incredibly interesting! The dramaturge’s job involves a lot of writing: she writes all the articles to do with the ballet for the Théâtre du Capitole’s magazine, and also writes the books about all the pieces the Ballet performs, which are sold at the shows. For this, she translates texts, does research about the show she is writing about, interviews the choreographers and directors, writes the texts, finds and buys photos and paintings… “It really is like detective work!” she told me.
Her job is also to do historical research for the choreographer when he needs it, for example when pieces are set in different periods, and he wants everything to be as accurate as possible.