‘My title is not an end in itself but a new beginning’
French ballerina Dorothee Gilbert has climbed every rung of the ballet ladder. This includes being declined an admission to the Paris Opera Ballet school at the age of 11 to achieving the rank of étoile – the term used by the company for its leading dancer.
Despite the hard-earned respect and acclaim, the 32-year-old believes the search for perfection never ends for an artist.
Gilbert will be among the line-up of soloists forming the crème de la crème of the Paris Opera Ballet’s Grand Gala on Thursday and Friday at the Madinat Theatre. She will showcase her applauded pieces from The Nutcracker, Swan Lake and Romeo and Juliet with partner Hugo Marchand.
Tell us about your journey with the Paris Opera Ballet?
I started taking ballet classes at the age of seven. At 10, I attended a ballet performance with my mother and realised that I could make this my career. When I applied to the Paris Opera Ballet school at the age of 11, I didn’t succeed. I joined the following year. I did all my classes there and entered the Paris Opera ballet company at 17.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a dancer?
When I had to replace an étoile who was injured during a performance in Études. I was still a sujet (part soloist, part corps member) then. Études is one of the most technically difficult ballets in the repertoire. I was part of the corps de ballet (ensemble), and all of a sudden I had to change my tutu, put on a crown, and take the stage for the title role in what was one of the most-difficult variations of the ballet. Backstage, my ballet master was more stressed than me.
When did you become an étoile and how was the news broken to you?
I was told after my performance in the The Nutcracker in 2007. I thought being an étoile meant perfection because that is how I saw principal dancers when I was young. When I woke up the next day, I still had the same qualities and weaknesses. There was no magic wand making me perfect. The title is not an end in itself but a new beginning – an opening to new perspectives.
You will be performing in Dubai with Hugo Marchand. Can you tell us a bit about this partnership?
I danced for the first time with Hugo at Garnier Opera in Manon. This is a very difficult role for male dancers because there are many pas de deux (duets), and the male part is challenging to interpret. I was a little frightened because Hugo was young and inexperienced in title roles but he surprised me. He is a hard worker, intelligent and charismatic on stage.
Tell us how you prepare before you take the stage for a show?
I take a ballet class in the morning before eating and resting for a while. I do a bit of relaxation therapy to view the performance positively. Make-up, hair and wardrobe happens two hours before the show and I also use that time to warm up.
• Grand Gala will be staged on Thursday at 8pm and Friday at 2pm and 8pm. Tickets are from Dh250 on tickets.virginmegastore.me
Updated: January 2, 2016 04:00 AM