5 minutes with… esteemed French ballerina Dorothee Gilbert

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We chat with the decorated performer from the Paris Opera National Ballet ahead of her appearance at the Emirates Palace in January

How did you begin in ballet?

Like many young French girls, I started dancing when I was seven years old. After watching Giselle at the Ballet du Capitole de Toulouse, considered as the quintessence of the romantic ballet, aged 10, I understood that one could make a living from working as a dancer. I immediately told my parents that it was what I wanted to do: become a star dancer.

What was it about that performance that inspired you?

It was a combination of things: the music, the costumes and the interpretation of the danseuse étoile (female star dancer). Everything was beautiful! I found it incredible that they could tell stories and express themselves through dance movements.

How do you prepare for a performance?

One month before the premiere, we begin rehearsals every day except Sunday, in addition to our daily classes. If the play or role is new to me, I will prepare by immersing myself totally into it – watching as many videos as possible and reading everything I can find on the subject. I also try to approach it in the best way possible so that it matches  my personality.

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Tell us more about the Abu Dhabi show…

It is a gala with a selection of excerpts from the best pieces of the vast repertoire of the Paris Opera. On a technical level, there’s a neo-classical piece we’re doing with three dancers on pointe shoes and two dancers, all following steps at a frantic pace. Artistically, there’s Romeo and Juliet, which I will interpret. It’s a magnificent passage where the strength of the feelings felt by the two protagonists transcends the movements.

You’ve performed in many countries. What has been your most memorable place to perform?

I have a very emotional connection with Japan. The Japanese love classical dance and the purity of the French style. We are welcomed in this country as rock stars. The audience is incredibly warm and waiting for us at the end of the shows. Since the beginning of my career, I have been there more than 17 times. It’s like a second home.

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Athletes reach a certain stage where they’re considered ‘past their prime’. Is this also true for ballet dancers?

The advantage with classical dance is that beyond the purely athletic aspect, there’s what is called ‘the artistic’, that is to say, the way in which each person interprets a role and brings it to life, and ‘the artistic’ counts for many. This artistic quality develops in finesse with age and experience.

Watch the Ballet Grand Galafeaturing the Paris Opera National Ballet on 5th January at Emirates Palace. Tickets are available at tickets.virginmegastore.me/ae

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