Here's a bit of our rehearsal for the Concours. In the video me dancing in the compulsory variation from Act I Don Quioxte.
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Up till now, one of the things that I really dont like about the Concours is the need to wake up early in the morning to book a studio in Opera Garnier for practicing on that day. Logical right? 154 dancers for ...... 5 studios. And who would not like to practice the Concours!? To book a studio, we only stick a small piece of paper in front of the studio and put our name and the time of the booking on it. Like this ...
So in order to be sure to have a studio to practice our variations, people keep getting up earlier and earlier and try to be the first dancer to arrive in Garnier.... I am still having a hard time with this, with people running around Garnier for our own good.
Right now it is 7:35 am, I am just out for Garnier for a studio. It is still dark outside and I feel like writing this down.
And guess what? I was far to be the first one to arrive in Garnier!
With one of my Hong Kong friends, we discovered a new Hong Kong style restaurant in Paris. It was opened for less than a month and the interior design really looks like the old restaurants in Hong Kong. Food was okay but not exceptional. After a very Hong-kong-style meal, once we left the restaurant, we realized that we were in fact in Europe walking on a Parisian street and not in Hong Kong!
Last Sunday, I decided to take a day off from my stressful preparation for the Concours de Promotion and enjoy Tosca (Puccini) in Opera Bastille. I loved the opera as usual. The story is very intense and tragic and made me feel so much emotionally.
Back to the Paris Opera!! For the Concours, every dancer must ask an Etoile (a principal dancer) to show them the variation that they've chosen for the Concours in order to have the correct choreography/ version. Yesterday, I asked my "petit pere" Mathieu Ganio to show me the variation from Sleeping Beauty that I have chosen. Our encounter was filmed by a documentary team for a second part of "Graines d'Etoiles" (the Budding Stars). It was especially stressful for me to dance in front of the camera, and in front of an Etoile that I admire very much.
Starting from today, all the morning classes in the Paris Opera Ballet are divided by grade: male/ female corps de ballet, male/female Coryphees, male/female soloists in order for us to prepare each grade's Concours seperately. I also passed by the Costumes area (la couture) in Garnier to try the costumes for my Concours, and found all the beautiful costumes ready for Swan Lake in December.
Yesterday (saturday), although I didn't have any rehearsals in the afternoon, I went to the Opera for morning class as usual. When I passed by the "tableau de service", a board where the notices and various information are displayed, I saw several new notices starting with "Concours de Promotion........"
Kind of scary, isn't it? I was glad that I arrived 30 min earlier than usual so that I could have an extra half an hour just to digest the stress and the nerves. The company just announced the compulsory variation for each grade of dancers for the Concours de Promotion. For my grade (Quadrilles Hommes), the compulsory variation will be ....... Don Quixote, Act I, second variation of Basilio, Rudolf Nureyev.
In the YouTube video below, that variation starts at 43:25. Dancing in the video is my Little Father (petit pere) and idol, Mathieu Ganio, now a much admired and respected Etoile of POB. I am happy about this variation. It is not too long nor too difficult, I think I can manage it.
In the next notice (second and middle one), the number of places opened for each grade's promotion is shown. I was much relieved to see a "2" at the bottom of a series of "1"s! Actually 2 places are not a lot compared to the previous years, but for this year it is 50 percent more than all the other grades!
The third (the one on the right) is saying pretty much the same things. The Paris Opera really knows how to make this notice look so formal, stressful and rigid, or classy depending of the point of view....... talking about "article 9 du titre IV de l'annexe........" and about "Convention Collective".......
How about my second variaiton? (which I would choose among the male variations of the whole POB repertoire) I have been practicing the sleeping beauty variation, which is now the compulsory variation of the Coryphees Hommes....... hmm..... I will have to brainstorm before making a decision.
So here we go! I am now in the Concours Period. Right after my saturday's morning class, everyone stayed in the studio (which is....... very unusual) and started practicing their variations on their own. At that moment, me too I started practicing. During 15 - 20 mins, there were no talking, no music (class was over and the pianist left) in the studio, only breathing or noises of dancers' landing/ friction with the dance floor. The air was filled with stress, hesitation, worries, or excitement, confidence...........
I wouldn't care much about the results because of the small number of vacancies. I think there are too many dancers (Quadrilles Hommes) who deserve to be promoted. So let's enjoy my first Concours Period and feel honored to have the opportunity to live through it, seeing it more as an interesting adventure than a proper Competition.
Meanwhile, I continue to enjoy Paris Opera's Lyrical performances, Operas. Lately I went to see Samson and Dalila (Camille Saint Saens) at Opera Bastille and it was breathtaking! My first French Opera.
The next day of the first performance of the season, we departed from Paris to Arcachon early in the morning (we had to be at the train station in Paris at 8am). Upon our arrival in Arcachon, we went straight to the theatre where we would perform and didn't see much of the city as usual. The theatre is called Theatre Olympia. If there's one thing to remember of this theatre, it would be its stage. The stage was large and comfortable to dance on. Since I had not been sleeping enough, I spent the afternoon in my changing room, sleeping. The show started at 9pm and finished at around 11 am. It was okay but not perfect, I was so tired. After a quick dinner, we travelled from Arcachon to Bordeaux by bus (1 hour ride) and arrived at a hotel in Bordeaux at 1am! We literally spent only 4 hours in the hotel before we woke up sleepily to catch the train back to Paris at 6:20 am.
Whao! What an adventure! It was one tiring but exciting trip. Another week of rehearsals and practicing at the Paris Opera started once we arrived Paris.
Today it's my first official day-off since........ 3 weeks? A sunny weather for my good mood too.