The curtain opened with the spotlight on a little girl from the school, lying in a white tutu, at the back of the deep stage. She then proudly walked down the steep rake to the front of the stage, followed by all the other girls from the school, similarly attired and turning to line the sides of the stage. Next it was the turn of the female corps dancers from the company, interspersed with soloists and etoiles, the latter often running to the front to greet the mounting applause. x

The ritual is a homage to ballet itself, but for the Paris Opera Ballet it also represents a cycle of life. All the principals and soloists have passed through the ballet school. Many of the “petits rats,” as the school’s students are known affectionately, will end up in the corps de ballet. And when they stand onstage together after the grand défilé, the connection is clear: the excellence of the ballet company is rooted in the excellence of its school. x


To be loved by a pure young girl, to be the first to reveal to her the strange mystery of love, is indeed a great happiness, but it is the simplest thing in the world. To take captive a heart which has had no experience of attack, is to enter an unfortified and ungarrisoned city. Education, family feeling, the sense of duty, the family, are strong sentinels, but there are no sentinels so vigilant as not to be deceived by a girl of sixteen to whom nature, by the voice of the man she loves, gives the first counsels of love, all the more ardent because they seem so pure. 

The more a girl believes in goodness, the more easily will she give way, if not to her lover, at least to love, for being without mistrust she is without force, and to win her love is a triumph that can be gained by any young man of five-and-twenty. See how young girls are watched and guarded! The walls of convents are not high enough, mothers have no locks strong enough, religion has no duties constant enough, to shut these charming birds in their cages, cages not even strewn with flowers. Then how surely must they desire the world which is hidden from them, how surely must they find it tempting, how surely must they listen to the first voice which comes to tell its secrets through their bars, and bless the hand which is the first to raise a corner of the mysterious veil! 

But to be really loved by a courtesan: that is a victory of infinitely greater difficulty. With them the body has worn out the soul, the senses have burned up the heart, dissipation has blunted the feelings. They have long known the words that we say to them, the means we use; they have sold the love that they inspire. They love by profession, and not by instinct. They are guarded better by their calculations than a virgin by her mother and her convent; and they have invented the word caprice for that unbartered love which they allow themselves from time to time, for a rest, for an excuse, for a consolation, like usurers, who cheat a thousand, and think they have bought their own redemption by once lending a sovereign to a poor devil who is dying of hunger without asking for interest or a receipt. 

Then, when God allows love to a courtesan, that love, which at first seems like a pardon, becomes for her almost without penitence. When a creature who has all her past to reproach herself with is taken all at once by a profound, sincere, irresistible love, of which she had never felt herself capable; when she has confessed her love, how absolutely the man whom she loves dominates her! How strong he feels with his cruel right to say: You do no more for love than you have done for money. They know not what proof to give. A child, says the fable, having often amused himself by crying “Help! a wolf!” in order to disturb the labourers in the field, was one day devoured by a Wolf, because those whom he had so often deceived no longer believed in his cries for help. It is the same with these unhappy women when they love seriously. They have lied so often that no one will believe them, and in the midst of their remorse they are devoured by their love.

- La Dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas fills

Paris Opera Ballet - Etoiles and corps de ballet

Le défilé du ballet,  September 2015

Etoiles from left to right: Laura Hecquet, Alessio Carbone (Premier danseur),  Alice Renavand, Josua Hoffalt, Myriam Ould-Braham, Karl Paquette, Emilie Cozette, Hervé Moreau, Mathieu Ganio, Laëtitia Pujol,  Benjamin Pech,  Dorothée Gilbert, Mathias Heymann, Eleonora Abbagnato, Stéphane Bullion, Amandine Albisson

© Elena Bauer


When everyone in the Portraits d’étoiles video dancing or trying to look like a dancer…

 while Mathieu being just ridiculously beautiful.

(Oh my dear, dear boy, stop it! I’m trying really hard to convince the whole world, that I like you because of your brilliant dancing skills, not your fucking face!)


Mathieu Ganio, Stephane Bullion

Le combat des anges

Why is it so perfect?!