Here in the States we all know Brigitte Lefèvre, head of the Paris Opera Ballet, thanks to Frederick Wiseman’s documentary on the venerable company, La Danse. She’s a woman who knows how to take charge. At a press conference hosted by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, she tells us about the company’s upcoming American tour, which will bring it to New York July 11-22.
Encountering her live, your attention is seized by her exquisitely shaped hands, which move with a ballerina’s grace. Turns out she was a petit rat at the POB’s academy, entering at 8½, graduating into the company at 16, and soon manifesting a parallel interest in dancing outside the classical vein.
Though she claims not to speak English, she listens keenly to her translator’s English précis of her remarks, and understands something of the audience’s questions. “What exactly is the French style?” she’s asked. She emphasizes its classical purity, adding, “Il faut le voir pour le comprendre” (You have to see it to understand). And so we will.
© 2012 Tobi Tobias