The Paris Opera Ballet Didn’t Let the Virus Stop the Dance

The ballerinas just kept coming and coming, spilling out in rows from the rear of the stage, all in white tutus and surgical face masks, walking gracefully in perfect unison.

This mesmerizing spectacle, which climaxed with almost 250 dancers assembled, opened the Paris Opera Ballet opening gala on Wednesday night, broadcast on a private streaming channel, with Taittinger Champagne and fancy nibbles dispatched to virtual invitees.

While the lack of gasps and applause was disquieting, even eerie, the performances were breathtaking, particularly the opening pas de deux danced by etoiles Hugo Marchand and Valentine Colasante, both in midnight blue Chanel costumes flecked with crystals and stars. Chanel and Rolex are key partners of the annual fundraiser.

The prerecorded, 70-minute program marked the first time the dancers of the Paris Opera reunited on stage at the famous Palais Garnier after a prolonged absence due to the coronavirus pandemic, making this annual fundraiser particularly poignant. Donations come from private and corporate sponsors as well as the donors on its honorary committee.

Among fashion folks and VIPs who tuned in were musicians Woodkid and Kiddy Smile, photographer Sonia Sieff and designers Alexandre Mattiussi, Pierre Hardy and Aurelie Bidermann.

Haider Ackerman posted clips on his Instagram stories, his black keyboard visible at the bottom of the frame.

“The opening with all the masks was a striking image, beautiful and strange,” said Yoann Lemoine, known professionally as Woodkid. “I imagine we will watch them in documentaries for the decades to come. I found the message of resilience extremely powerful.”

He also paid close attention to the costumes. “The hopeful and notable change to me was to see ballet tights matching the skin colors of the  dancers,” he noted.

As for his at-home outfit? “I have to admit I did wear my pajamas to watch the gala, it was a very interesting contrast.”

The public can watch the program from Jan. 30 at this link: https://chezsoi.operadeparis.fr/ballet/videos/gala-d-ouverture.

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