We’re just finishing the final week of our performances here in Paris and the tour has been great! It’s been almost a month since I left with the Company to travel to Spoleto, Italy on the first leg of SF Ballet’s tour. The main difference between the two engagements is that the Spoleto Festival venue was outdoors so shooting outside was especially nice since the weather was warm. The theater in Spoleto doesn’t have a permanent backstage–there were no side lights so it was more like a concert venue than a formal theater. Read More »
By now we’re deep in our second week of performances at the Chatelet Theater in the heart of Paris, and we’re as busy as ever with rehearsals and performances. It’s a beautiful theater to work at every day, and although I do love the War Memorial Opera House back home, there’s something majestic about looking out from the stage at the archways and ornate decorations on the walls and ceilings here. The rings climb upwards to a fifth level and create almost a “wall” of audience that makes the public feel very close. From the house it feels like an intimate venue even though it seats 2,500. The acoustics are amazing and the orchestra sounds so clear and vibrant, maybe it has something to do with the bare wood floor. One also feels intimate with history here, in the theater and in all of Paris for that matter. The Ballets Russes premiered Stravinsky and Fokine’s Petroushka at the Chatelet in 1911, and Tchaikovsky, Grieg, Mahler, Strauss, and Debussy all conducted their own work here as well. We are just across the street from Notre Dame cathedral, and we are literally steps away from the Conciergerie, where Marie Antoinette was imprisioned before she met the guillotine. Its something remarkable to dance in a theater and a city like this, where you feel a part of the history of art and human existence!
The only challenge about dancing at the Chatelet, however, is the fact that the stage is raked! Like many other theaters around the world, the stage is angled toward the audience, thankfully here at only a 1% grade. I remember dancing at the Palais Garnier 14 years ago, where the rake must be at least 5%, and it was so difficult to dance, especially to pirouette! Pirouetting on a rake is definitely more difficult, but not impossible, we just have to adapt and hold our weight in a different way. This week I finally feel a little more secure, compared to the first few days where I felt like I was on a moving ship every time I would turn!
Last night we opened Hummingbird for the Parisian audience, Liam Scarlett’s beautiful new ballet that we premiered in San Francisco last season. I think its safe to say it went over very well as we bowed for what felt like 10 minutes! Its a favorite piece of mine to dance, it combines classical technique with contemporary sensibilities in a way that makes sense to me. And the choreography is very musical, which makes it such a pleasure to dance (and watch!). Liam was here for rehearsals and the performance (London is only a train ride away), so the evening felt special, almost like a second world premiere.
Tonight for me is another performance of Mark Morris’ Maelstrom, and the company also performs Wheeldon’s Within the Golden Hour, and Jerome Robbins’ Glass Pieces, which brought the house down two days ago. Let’s hope it has the same effect tonight!
By Pascal Molat principal with San Francisco Ballet. July 17, 2014
This summer, following the end of our season in May, I had free time in San Francisco and took this opportunity with my family to discover new places around the Bay Area and in the city—like a true tourist. Having no schedule gave us more time to share outdoor activities with my son and we enjoyed all kinds of cultural activities and parks that the city of San Francisco has to offer.
Three weeks of vacations is nice, but you still have to stay in shape! For me playing tennis, biking, going to SFB’s Wellness Center and playing with my son—on top of taking classes time to time—was enough to make me ready for the start of rehearsals for the Spoleto and Paris tours. It was a great moment to be part of the Spoleto Festival and it was a funny note for me to play the Italian role in Ratmansky’s From Foreign Lands. That provided a fun memory and we had a great audience.
I was more than ready to go back to my native France and to my city of Paris. I love to be in France for vacation—it is such a beautiful country and has so much to offer – but this time it’s not for vacation – it’s for work. (The vacation will come after the tour!)
Even though I love my country, I now feel that my home is San Francisco. I know San Francisco better than Paris and San Francisco has some unique qualities to offer, just like Paris. Of course, coming to Paris is very special to me. I was trained at Paris Opera Ballet school and I have many childhood friends in the city. I am so happy to see them as well as my family, and I am very excited that they are coming during these three weeks to see me dance. It’s a rare moment to share that I really cherish.
Pascal at the Théâtre du Châtelet
I was thrilled to dance Zanella’s Alles Waltzer for the opening night Gala for many reasons. I shared the stage with Taras Domitro, a great artist; we share a mutual respect and understanding. The second reason was because I was the first dancer on stage (and alone) as the curtain rose to open the tour (which marks the 10th anniversary of Les Etes de la Danse Festival), and the gala. As a Frenchman, it was a truly proud moment. Last but not least, it was great to know my family and friends were here in the audience. Of course it was a little nerve wracking but their presence also gave me confidence. I know the French audience is very demanding and picky, but I can tell you that they loved our first opening piece and the entire gala with standing ovations at the end of the performance–with the entire company on stage.
I will be performing in seven other ballets on this tour including Agon, Solo, Hummingbird, Maelstrom, Symphony No. 9, and The Four Temperaments. I have already danced Agon and Maelstrom this week and will dance Melancholic in The Four Temperaments Saturday night; next week will probably be even a busier with all the other ballets!
Anyway, I just can say that the French audience and critics love our company and I feel full of pride to be part of SF Ballet’s tour here in Paris. You’ll hear from me again towards the end of the tour.
Our dancers are on tour in Paris and they need your help!
Create a Pinterest board that can guide our dancers to the best places to see, eat, and have fun in Paris. Where have you been or where would you go if you were in Paris? Get creative and we’ll showcase our favorite pins on our own Pinterest board, SF Ballet in Paris, and post them to Facebook. Our tour ends July 26th, so start pinning!!
Up for the challenge?
1. Follow San Francisco Ballet on Pinterest.
2. Create a new board called “SF Ballet in Paris“
3. Start pinning! And don’t forget to use #sfbinparis and @sfballet to tag all your pins.
4. Have fun and be creative!
5. Check back to see if your pins and name appear on SF Ballet’s Facebook and Pinterest pages.