Aurélie Dupont is a French ballet dancer and the current artistic director of the famous Paris Opera Ballet.
Aurélie Dupont was selected for the position following the sudden resignation of Benjamin Millipied who only stayed in the role for little over a year. During his short tenure, Millepied promised to change the conservative dance company into a forward-looking and diverse dance house. He sowed the seeds for an inspiring future appointing William Forsythe as an associate artist, and Aurélie Dupont carries on the legacy of driving this three-century-old cultural institution forward.
Paris Opera Ballet is soon to visit Singapore with an exciting and distinct triple bill which includes works from William Forsythe, Crystal Pite, and Jerome Robins. A real treat for ballet lovers showcasing traditional ballet at its best (In the Night by Robins), as well as the future of choreography with striking and beautiful contemporary ballets choreographed in the last couple of years: The Seasons’ Canon by Pite and Blake Works I by Forsythe. Classical and contemporary works go head to head on the main stage of Esplanade.
I was curious to really understand the importance of arranging together a programme of ballet like the one coming to Singapore. Aurélie Dupont explains that the works ‘represent not only the true patrimony of the French ballet tradition but also the essence of Rudolf Nureyev’s heritage, since he gave so much to the company, as a director, and as a principal dancer.’
Paris Opera Ballet has become a universal dance company performing some of the most celebrated classical ballets, whilst investing a significant amount of resources to develop cutting-edge contemporary choreography. Aurélie Dupont adds, ‘It is a vital part in the career of each artist to be working on new creations with contemporary choreographers. Contemporary dance is not in opposition to classical ballet: it does not wipe it off, it rather feeds it. The young generation of dancers deeply longs for it.’
I still remember not long ago the incredible experience of seeing Forsythe’s work at Esplanade in Impressing the Czar, a piece of choreography which is so rooted in classical ballet technique with an extraordinary experimental approach to composition. Aurélie Dupont speaks fondly of Forsythe, ‘Since In the Middle Somewhat Elevated in 1987, the Paris Opera Ballet has regularly and happily performed Forsythe’s contemporary and avant-garde dance works. I find it quite interesting to know that, after thirty years of choreographic innovation, this great choreographer wishes to go back to very classical roots.’
It’s from these classical roots that Forsythe built Blake Works I, Dupont clearly understands the value and challenges that Forsythe brings to the company, ‘ Forsythe wanted to create something which would be based on the core principles of the French school while using very rhythmic music. He has been researching our company and its origins, i.e. up to the times of the Royal Academy of Dance during the kingdom of Louis XIV. Blake Works I reflects this culture blend between very classical ballet and modern and rhythmic music.’
I have been wanting to watch The Seasons’ Canon for a long time. My excitement for this piece started with the music, a few years ago I saw Max Richter conducting an orchestra to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons at Montreux Jazz festival to a standing ovation audience. It was an unforgettable experience, where I constantly imagined what if this becomes a dance performance? To my surprise, a year went by and I discovered that Pite was working on this piece of music, on a nearly impossible deadline.
‘Quite remarkably, Crystal Pite has taken only 3 weeks to create the masterpiece that is The Seasons’ Canon. ‘
Pite had an incredibly short amount of time to create this work. Therefore the first phase of rehearsals started in her home country Canada, working with the dancers in her own company, allowing her to reach Paris ‘with a clear idea and specific choreographic language to propose to the dancers from our company, whom she would meet for the first time,’ Dupont explains. I also discover that Pite has chosen Max Richter’s version of Antonio Vivaldi The Four Seasons because she found it fascinating and inspiring: ‘Richter’s music allowed her to create movement that reflects natural phenomena with a sense of rhythm and of lightness which fully belong to our times.’ Dupont adds.
In this brief interview, I learned that it is certainly challenging to manage a 350 years old cultural institution, however, Dupont confesses that ‘challenges and difficulties often give the most beautiful results.’ This will be my first time watching the Paris Opera Ballet and their excellent technique and artistic powerhouse, and I can’t wait to see the dancers in action. At Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay. 21-23 June.
This post is sponsored by Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay.