More photos from La Dame aux Camélias

Tonight was the 11th performance out of the 19 performances of La Dame aux Camélias that we haven in December!

So we’ve done more than half of it! Chun’s partner is such a sweet person who always have a very positive and serious attitude in her work. She spreads her good mood with the other dancers.

Whenever Chun performs in a long series of shows, there’s always a moment when he feels the fatigue accumulating in his body, as if the same dance steps get more and more difficult every night. And it’s happening right NOW!

Before, when this happened, Chun would feel so annoyed and wouldn’t understand. This time, he knows that it is normal, it is the fatigue, the saturated muscles loaded with lactic acid and toxins. He accepts that, and by now he should know how to remediate.

Tonight was a special performance, with a whole new cast of soloists. For the corps de ballet, that would mean…….. a total mess! With all the dancers who used to dance in the Corps doing solo roles, time for the understudies to switch in! Much to Chun’s relieve, he was only doing his usual parts.

At the end of the performance after the curtain goes down, on the stage:

– Thank you (an understudy’s name) for replacing tonight!!!!!, said a ballet mistress.

– the company’s clapping to congratulate him

– It was great, you did well, thank you! You may do it again another day, (she supposes that the understudy was just dying to perform again), maybe another spot!, the ballet mistress continued. 

the understudy forced a smile 🙂 

(doing another spot would mean changing sides, new combinations, new partner,…… etc. no understudy appreciates replacing when we’d never had the opportunity to rehearse it before and under short notice, let alone changing spots every night!)

Graines d’Etoile… official screening at Opera Bastille

This Monday, Chun attended the official screening of Graines d’Etoile… 5 ans après at a studio at Opera Bastille, organised by Arte. It’s been four years since he first danced at Opera Bastille, but he never knew there was such a small studio theatre like this! Bastille is indeed gigantic.

Before this screening, Chun had watched the documentary once already, at a private screening. The second time is always less shocking than the first time.

Here’s the first part of Graines d’Etoile…… 5 ans après. The video will be available until 26th January 2019.

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(Click on the the screenshot above to access to the video.) 

To see the four other episodes, the DVD is out now! You can click the image below to order (France area only):

Assemblés – Attilio Labis

This morning, Chun went to POB’s men’s 11:30 class by Mr. Attilio Labis, Etoile and renowned ballet teacher of the Paris Opera.

Mr. Labis said, after we’ve done our assemblé exercice in the centre:

“- Il y a deux types d’assemblé, les assemblés qui se déplacent, et ceux qui restent sur place. Quand on les fait sur place, c’est naturellement la première jambe qui ramène vers la deuxième, et pas l’inverse! Et vous faites tous avec la deuxième jambe qui va vers la première…

– mais c’est ce qu’on nous demande de faire ici!, a dit un danseur.

– votre Ecole, l’Ecole Française, c’est avec la première jambe qui ramène vers la deuxième, c’est votre école! Il faut résister comme les gilets jaunes!”

(- there are two types of assemblé, the travelling ones and the ones on spot. When we do them on spot, naturally, it’s the first leg that goes to the second leg, and not the opposite! And you all do it with the second leg going towards the first leg…

-but that’s what we are told to do here! said a dancer.

– your school, the French School of dance, is with the first leg joining the second leg, it comes from your training! I need to resist like the Gilets Jaunes!! )

At that moment Chun was happy that he decided to go to that class.

Graines d’étoile – 5 ans après (5 years later)

They’re finally here! In the first edition of Graines d’Etoile, a series of short films by Francoise-Marie of ARTE Editions, you will see Chun’s first steps into the prestigious Paris Opera Ballet School when he was 14 years old. This first edition (the one on the right), which came out in April 2013, is followed by a second edition: Graines d’Etoile…. 5 ans après. (the one of the left)

In this second edition, Chun’s family was on a trip in Paris and came to the Palais Garnier to see him perform on stage for the first time. You will also learn about dancers’ routine in the Paris Opera Ballet, as well as the holly Concours de Promotion that we do each year.

Graines d’Etoile… 5 ans après will be diffused on the French television during this Christmas, and the DVD is out NOW!~

You can order it now by simply clicking on the photos. If you haven’t heard of this documentary or haven’t seen the first one, the one in the middle is a set of the two editions.

Chun is very excited to share this with you, do let him what you think!~

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Gilets Jaunes X Opera de Paris (after)

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This morning, when Chun saw this, he didn’t believe that tonight’s La Dame aux Camélias performance would be possible, with this fifth day of “Gilets Jaunes” protests.

He left home at 9:55 am and arrived at 11:25 am at the Opera, started his day with a ballet class, then rehearsals….. being whole day inside the theatre, we had no idea what was going on outside.

Finally, much to his surprise and joy, the house was full for the performance. Those 2000 people so fearless and eager to come and watch the show despite the riots, for a moment Chun thought once again, that his profession is a beautiful one.

Gilets Jaunes Act 5 X Opéra de Paris (The calm before the storm)

Tomorrow will be the fifth Saturday that the Gilets Jaunes (as the French call them, referring to protesters wearing yellow vests), and today, the employees of the Paris Opera received an email from the Direction informing us of its decision of remaining the two theatres (Garnier and Bastille) open during this 5th day of riots in Paris.

Then, we received another email with this metro map indicating which stations will be closed by the Police Station tomorrow:image001

Tonight, in the corridors of the Opera Garnier:
” -Are they serious? They’re keeping the theatres open?

-Yes they are! Haven’t you read that email? They don’t seem to care about our security! -The Matignon (performance for which the Prime Minister is invited, planned to take place Saturday afternoon) is cancelled! Of course it is…. they care about the Prime Minister’s safety, and we are nobody so they don’t ever care! I am not coming tomorrow, I will be a minister for one day… How are we actually supposed to come to the Opera?

-Indeed….. All the metro stations around are closed! No taxi will be available, the parkings around will also be closed. Seriously, we’ll need a helicopter and a parachute!

-Maybe we will succeed arriving into the Opera, together with all the staff working for La Dame aux Camélias, but then we will have no audience! Isn’t it? Who would come to watch La Dame, given that they will have to go through the crowds of Gilets Jaunes in their high heels and suits?

-…… ”

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Dear metro station Chaussée d’Antin Lafayette, still open here, what would Chun do without you tomorrow?
With a freezing 2 degrees weather tomorrow, dear Gilets Jaunes, mind your lower back while throwing back the tear gas grenade towards the Police! You may need a proper warm-up session with us at the Opera.

Photos – La Dame aux Camélias

Chun does not really like seeing himself in photos/videos, but here are some of the recent photos by Isabelle Aubert, in the Red Ball and Golden Ball of La Dame aux Camélias, Palais Garnier.

Modern Art Exhibition – Zao Wu-ki

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Chun has a day-off in the middle of the week. Sitting in front of his Mac and facing the window, he got envious of the nice sunshine and blue sky outside. He decided to go to the Palais de Tokyo which is near where he lives, and to go and see an exhibition: Zao Wou-Ki, a famous Chinese artist who spent half of his life in Paris.

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From all that he saw this morning, Chun liked this big horizontal canvas the most. This certainly seemed abstract to him, yet mesmerizing. For a moment he imagines this painting hanging on a wall of an elegantly designed duplex/house. How appealing.

At the end of the exhibition, four ink-wash paintings were displayed. These were aparently part of a project for the stage curtains at Beijing’s National Centre for the Performing Arts, a project that actually came to naught. That came to naught? How? Would have loved to see curtains like this in a theatre.

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Most of Zao’s works are not titled, emphasizing to the abstract beauty of his paintings.

Reading thoughts…

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During this busy non-stop performance period, reading is particularly enjoyable. Is it really the period? or is it simply the book? Chun enjoys reading this third book of Kevin Kwan’s famous trilogy Crazy Rich Asians very much. He would read this before bed, until late, very late, captivated by the addictive plot, until his eyes burn.

This third book is mainly about the story’s Ah Ma (Grandma in Cantonese), Shang Su Yi. Reading it can’t stop Chun from thinking of his own Ah Ma……

A woman still actually cooks for her whole family in her nineties!!!! Ah Ma is undoubtedly one brave woman. When Chun was small, both of his parents had to work during the day, and the one who brought him up was Ah Ma. He especially misses the chicken wings that Ah Ma used to make him for lunch. Ah Ma knows Chun’s tastes very well, and because he has always loved the chicken wings, she would prepare him some each time when he goes back to Hong Kong…..

 

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At her age, Ah Ma cannot travel anymore……

It was almost 2am, his eyes too tired from reading… Chun turned off the lights, was lying on his bed and staring at the ceiling, and started thinking about his sweet sweet childhood and all the moments that he spent with his grandma as he closed his eyes.

Two minutes later, his right hand reached for his iPhone which was on the floor. He rang his mother:

“- What happened Son? How come you’re awake at such hour?

– Mum, I should come back to Hong Kong in January even if the air ticket costs me 3000 euros!”

That night, Chun hadn’t slept so well since a long time.

Routine and Internal dialogue – La Dame aux Camélias

16:00 – (in the studio Petipa) Just finished the rehearsal with Pontus Lidberg, a Swedish choreographer who is  creating a new piece for us. The “research” and the working process is fun and much enriching. But hey, don’t overtire yourself, remember that you’ve a performance tonight. Do a little bit of stretching now.

16:15 – (back in the changing room) You should start to get prepared at 17:30, so you have a little bit more than an hour now, lie down and have a nap.

16:43 – (lying down in the changing room) “Mais non! C’est pas ça! Regarde, attends ‘ttends, regarde moi ça,” “Hahahahha! Wa le bâtard!”, “Hé oh! Vous vous calmez maintenant! Il y a des gens qui dorment”

17:20 – (changing room) On my phone reads “17:21” Okay, time to get out from your nap. Get down now. Oh I feel the nerves coming, What if I don’t succeed the difficult lift in the Red Ball? Will I be doing my spot or will I replace in the Golden Ball like the last time? I should really try things out in the Foyer before the show….. and what if I have a new partner? And what if it’s……. Chun, stop thinking go down and eat!

17:25 – (Canteen Garnier) I am not really hungry, and the food in the evening really looks and tastes like leftovers. But you have to eat otherwise when could you have dinner?

17:53 – (Plateau, make-up) The make-up artists are always smiling and kind. They really soothe my nerves. Oh, don’t forget to sign that paper later!

18:12 – (1er entresol, hairdresser) “I am sorry, my hair is a bit too long now….. must be difficult for you haha!”, “No! If you want to look like a bourgeois of the 18th century, it is perfect like this!”, “Well, maybe I’d like to have some volume in the front, but anyway I will wear a hat later in the Red Ball and hopefully it will not ruin it haha!”

18:24 – (2e Etage) Now you sign for your presence, done. Oh, okay, so you’re replacing in the Golden Ball tonight, dancing with her.

18:50 – (Changing room) Show in 40 minutes, certain dancers are already in full dress and all ready, don’t be ready too soon Chun, you’ll only have more time to get nervous before the show! Do a bit of foam rolling now.

19:15 – (Changing room) time to get dressed, I have just enough time to.

19:35 – (on stage) The ballet starts with a mime scene. Maybe try to place your hands earlier tonight for the difficult lift in Red Ball. It should be helpful. Also, you should follow your partner’s rythme……. Hey Chun! You’re on stage! Stop thinking about the Red Ball!!!!!!

20:03 – (Quick change room) Red Ball went well!!! Yeah! Much relieved. Half of the performance done for you! Can’t wait to get back home and enjoy my pasta with cheese. What should you do now? Golden Ball is in 2 hours in Act 3….. Maybe you should go to the gym.

20:31 – (Classe D, in front of the piano) I couldn’t resist when I saw a piano while going to the gym. After a bit of cardio and core exercises, I went to the piano. Piano playing consoles my soul, I need it to calm my nerves. The music keeps coming out from my fingers, my mind thinking of Golden Ball.

21:33 – (Classe D) “Mesdames et messieurs, l’acte 3 a commencé” Act 3 started, you should go down.

21:47 – (Foyer de la Danse) “Chun, do you know with whom you will dance on Monday?”, “I have no idea, why?”, “because the company told me to look at your partner’s spot, your partner is injured”, “What? Then who’s my partner tonight?” Panic.

22:00 – (on stage) “Sh**! I lost my necklace!”, “Don’t worry, it will be just fine” This time Chun was the one who is calm.

23:15 – (Avenue Mozart, walking home) Another performance done. Pasta and cheese, and my favorite reading time before sleep!

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Soirée Parisienne

Today is Chun’s day-off. He took the time to rest and to let his body recover, to prepare himself for tomorrow’s rehearsals and performance.

He was also invited to a soirée parisienne in the evening, which made him a little nervous at first, because he didn’t know anyone there.

Arriving at the venue, he tried to walk around, and recognize nobody that he would know. Too reserved to start talking to the other guests, he took a cocktail and started observing the event from the corner of the beautiful Rotonde.

There was a little mentalist/magic show in the middle of the event, which was great. Chun wondered whether there are dancers who would perform in a reception like this.

Eventually, he started talking to others. Even though he was very curious to meet other people, Chun preferred sticking to a small number of people with whom he would have quality conversations.

There was a man who fell down on the floor, I guess from feeling ill and tired, or maybe too much alcohol? And a staff who dropped and broke a glass while serving us, it must be embarrassing for him in such a chic palace.

Meeting different people, witnessing all these, listening to others’ stories is so enriching. In life, the lived experiences will always stay with and within us, no one could ever take them from us. Let’s don’t be afraid and go find the experiences.

Première finished~

This Première of La Dame aux Camélias is over. My replacement in the Bal Doré went quite well, even though it was not perfect, but I am satisfied, so is my new partner I guess.

This ballet is full of partnering, and changing partner requires some practice. The beautiful long dresses and my gloves also make it even more difficult.

Tomorrow, we will start rehearsing in the afternoon for a new contemporary ballet by P. Lidberg, then another La Dame performance in the evening. I still do not know whether I will do my usual spot in the Golden Ball or will I replace like I did tonight…

It is now 23:00, my body is tired and I am starving, I can’t want to get home and eat.

I took this photo while walking out from the backstage door of the Palais Garnier, heading towards the metro station Chaussée d’Antin Lafayette, and passing through the beautiful light decorations.