November 2003Spontaneous, fresh and natural, dark-haired Dorothée Gilbert is
coryphée at the Paris Opéra Ballet. A member of the corps de
ballet, where more often than not, one often passes unnoticed.
so Dorothée, who from her earliest years has attracted attention, as the
gipsy soloist in The Two Pigeons, staged by the Paris Opéra
School when she was barely fourteen, and as a captivating Firebird in the
ballet of the same name the following year.
"But I've had to fight all the time!", she
exclaimed when we met after rehearsals at the Palais Garnier where she is
currently working on a Balanchine programme.
"When I auditioned for the school here, I was refused
admittance", she told me. "I had the right physique, but they didn't like what
I did in class and I sent me away. I did everything wrong."
"My family aren't artistic at all, and I was only
sent to ballet lessons for something to do. My mother thought dancers had the
right comportment and a certain allure, but soon after starting I realised how
much I loved music and movement. The refusal in Paris only strengthened my
determination to be a dancer, and I worked twice as hard at the Conservatoire
of Toulouse near my home, and then auditioned both for Roland Petit's school in
Marseilles, and the Paris Opéra Ballet a second time. This time I passed
and came to Paris with my family."
Dorothée Gilbert in Tchaikovsky pas de
© Photo: Icare
In September 2000, she was offered a
place in the corps de ballet of the Paris Opéra Ballet, a month or so
before becoming finalist at the International Competition of Paris, a result
she dislikes to recall. .
"I didn't win the gold medal", she says
bluntly, "but in a way, it wasn't such a bad thing as it merely increased my
determination to work even harder and get everything right, and again, when I
was not promoted from quadrille to coryphée my first year," she
Dorothée Gilbert draws your eye even in the back row of the corps de
ballet. She distinguished herself in the pas de trois of Pierre Lacotte's
Sylphide in the programme Jeunes danseurs barely one year after
her arrival in the company, and again, partnered by Audric Bezard, in the same
programme this summer, in Balanchine's exhilarating "Tchaikovsky pas de
deux", when she stunned not only by her technical assurance, precision and
style, but also for her great artistic possibilities. Chosen by the Canadian
choreographer, Edouard Locke, she
also participated in the creation of André Auria.
But this exceptionally gifted
dancer, who does not win all the medals first time round possesses something
much more important. Young as she is, she has an unmistakable stage presence,
an inborn charisma that does not come from her impeccable schooling. As one of
the six fiancées in Swan Lake her body, slender and supple danced
when she was motionless. She has temperament and personality, all the qualities
necessary to ensure that one day she will dance her dream role, that of Juliet.
Dorothée Gilbert will be interpreting the peasant pas de deux, better
known as the pas de deux des Vendangeurs in the company's forthcoming
production of Giselle. And many ballet fans are already waiting for that
Patricia Boccadoro writes
on dance in Europe. She contributes to The Observer and Dancing Times. Ms.
Boccadoro is also the dance editor of Culturekiosque.com.