There’s no applause at the end of this solo. Instead, Mathilde Froustey’s performance in Manon’s second act party variation is met with critical whispers. This clip is from the Paris Opéra Ballet’s 2010 concours de promotion, the yearly competition in which low-ranking company members have one chance to impress before a panel of judges, in the hopes of moving up the company’s rigid hierarchy. Then a POB sujet (demi-soloist), Froustey, our 2014 April/May cover girl, recalled the experience to writer Laura Capelle, claiming, “I don’t dance well during the concours.”
We beg to differ. Taken out of the opulent ballroom scene with its glittering courtiers, Froustey’s Manon solo still shines. She captures the character’s seductive allure in the way she angles her shoulders and ripples her arms. Gliding across the stage, Froustey contrasts this luxurious upper body with crisp footwork. She appears both coy and confident, a skilled actress and a meticulous technician who dances as effortlessly as she smiles. The judges may not have been impressed enough to promote her, but San Francisco Ballet artistic director Helgi Tomasson evidently disagreed. He invited Froustey to join SFB as a principal in 2013. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!