YOU CAN DANCE: Audience participation isn’t usually the order of the day when you go to the ballet, but the season-opening gala at the Paris Opera has decided to shake up tradition.
Guests were invited to join the Paris Opera Ballet on the stage of the Palais Garnier, where they were led by dancers to perform a waltz. In their colorful evening dresses, the untrained attendees stood out from the sea of dancers in tuxedos.
“We weren’t given any directions,” said music producer Pedro Winter, who was the only man chosen to take the stage. “The dancers guided me through touch and maintaining constant eye contact. It turned out to be quite instinctive in the end. You have just let go.
It was all part of Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin’s “Decadanse,” an electrifying performance featuring 31 dancers. The first act, energetic group choreography to the tune of Goldfrapp’s “Black Cherry,” gave an indication of the unusual evening to come.
Russian prima ballerina Diana Vishneva and Aurélie Dupont were enthusiastically applauded for their “Bolero” pas de deux, wearing asymmetrical black costumes designed by Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel. Dupont, who retired from dance in 2015, succeeded Benjamin Millepied as director of the lyrical ballet in 2016.
At another point in the evening, an emcee engaged the audience in a game of “Sit down if you already have,” with questions ranging from Italian literature to masturbation.
After the performance, the audience was in awe. “It was unlike anything I expected,” said actress Ellie Bamber. “It must have been so nerve-wracking for the audience members to get on stage, but they were all so good. It just goes to show that if you let go and have fun, anyone can dance.
Bamber had just wrapped filming “The Seven Sorrows of Mary” with director Pedro Valera in Rio de Janeiro, and will also appear in Disney’s “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” which is due out later this year. She plays Clara’s sister to Mackenzie Foy. American Ballet Theater principal dancer Misty Copeland will dance on the ballet’s main stage.
Stacy Martin had a flashback. “I studied ballet growing up, and one of my teachers told me that the day you present the opening season is the most important day in a dancer’s life. I had it totally forgot until tonight, and it all came back to me!
The actress plays alongside Natalie Portman in Brady Corbet’s “Vox Lux”, presented at the Venice Film Festival, and will fly to Kentucky to shoot “The Evening Hour”, based on the novel by Carter Sickels, with director Braden King.
Pierre Niney, who played Yves Saint Laurent in Jalil Lespert’s biopic, would like to see more dance-centric films on screen. “I loved ‘La La Land’, it would be great to have a similar film made in France,” he said.
The French actor, who will be alongside Anaïs Demoustier in “Save or Perish”, released on November 28, enjoys a good session on the dance floor, but you have to be in good company. “Being around well-meaning friends definitely helps with letting go,” he said.
Leaving the foyer, guests discover the entrance to the opera lit by magic garlands. The crowd surged into the opera halls, where dinner was served under gilded ceilings and twinkling chandeliers.
Among the guests were Keira Knightley, flanked by her husband James Righton; Guillaume Galienne, who played Pierre Bergé in Saint Laurent by Niney; Marion Cotillard, who was seen giving Chanel fashion president Bruno Pavlovsky a warm hug; director Deniz Gamze Ergüven and singer Soko.
The dinner was prepared by rising stars of the Parisian gastronomic scene. The main course, lobster in coral butter served with aubergines and cherries, was cooked by Tatiana Levha, owner of Parisian bistro Le Servan and the recently opened Double Dragon. The evening, organized in partnership with Rolex and Chanel, ended with an after-party under the grand staircase.