Paris Opéra Up Close

Published in the October/November 2012 issue.

Photography by Jim Lafferty


Paris Opéra Ballet’’s Giselle is a quintessentially French fairy-tale: It’s moody and mercurial, fanciful and romantic, elegant and heartbreaking. Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot originally choreographed Giselle for POB in 1841, giving the company a unique connection to the ballet. The version performed today was staged by former ballet masters Patrice Bart and Eugene Polyakov in 1991. “Bart was a pure product of the French school, while Polyakov contributed his Russian experience,”” says artistic director Brigitte Lefèvre. “They brought their personal touch to this Giselle, they made it evolve. “We went back to the sets and costumes created by Alexandre Benois in 1924, which I find very poetic. It contributes to the sense of heritage in this production.”” While POB was at Lincoln Center this July, Pointe captured the dress rehearsal for the company’s 767th performance of the ballet.

Dancers work on a few stes in the last minutes before curtain

Warm, sprightly soloist Héloïse Bourdon in Peasant Pas de Deux. "“The ballet couldn’t be done the same way by another company," Lefèvre sas. "The precision, the shared style, the way the company takes the stage—all those ingredients make 'Giselle' very special for us.”

Ballet master Laurent Hilaire corrects the Wilis’ ports de bras.

Étoile Isabelle Ciaravola’’s Giselle comforts Karl Paquette’’s Albrecht at the climax of Act II while the Wilis in the back look on.

Giselle and Albrecht in Act I

Assistant ballet master Viviane Descoutures works with a dancer on her projection.