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The Paris Opera Ballet Season Opens with a Spectacular Soirée

Paris Opera gala

The Paris Opera Ballet dancers perform to the delight of VIP guests inside the Opera Garnier. Photo courtesy of Paris Opera Ballet

The cultural cognoscenti settled into their plush, red velvet chairs inside the Palais Garnier for an evening of ballet. The annual Paris Opera Ballet gala opening season fundraiser on Thursday, September 21, featured exceptional contemporary and classical performances from choreographers Hans Van Manen, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, and George Balanchine to the music of  Satie, Debussy, and Tchaikovsky. The audience, which included Institut du Monde Arabe president Jack Lang and fashion royalty Giambattista Valli, Rick Owens, Michele Lamy, Marisa Berenson, Haider Ackermann, along with French actress Bérénice Bejo, who wore a sapphire and diamond Chaumet necklace, and leather-clad singer Lenny Kravitz, showed their appreciation by peppering the air with bursts of applause and cries of “Bravo! Bravo!

Paris Opera Ballet

Paris Opera Ballet opening season fundraiser gala 2017/2018, made possible with the generous support of Rolex. Ballet Director Aurélie Dupont in Alexandre Vauthier and Boucheron earrings surrounded by the the company’s étoile dancers, among them French-Algerian dancer Myriam Ould-Braham (far right). Photo courtesy Paris Opera Ballet

The crowd gasped with excitement as Paris Opera ballet director, Aurélie Dupont, went on stage to bow in a fuchsia metallic Alexandre Vauthier dress, over-the-knee boots by Jordanian designer Amina Muaddi, and diamond-drop earrings by Boucheron. Gesturing to her exaggerated shoulders that accentuated her tiny waist, Dupont told Vogue Arabia: “I thought, if not now, when?”

Paris Opera Ballet

To the music of Berlioz, the Paris Opera Ballet opens the gala with a march introducing all the dancers in the company, including students to the étoiles. Photo courtesy Paris Opera Ballet

At the seated dinner in the chandelier-lit Grand Foyer of the gilded Opera House, Dupont stated her wish to make diversity a priority in her programing. Sitting down with Vogue Arabia after the dinner, she explained: “The difference in the way [people from diverse cultures] dance, work, choreograph, is apparent and it adds richness.”  However, she was keen to stress that the company was first and foremost grounded in classical ballet. “I am adding more and more classical ballet [to the program],” she said on the subject of her strategy at the head of the world’s oldest dance company. “Now that the dancers are in shape, I can push them physically.” As for her contemporary choices, she said: “I take more and more risk. Starting with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui,” referring to the choreographer whose exquisite pas de deux Faun was featured among the evening’s performances.

Paris Opera Ballet guests Charlotte Casiraghi and Giambattista Valli. Photo courtesy Paris Opera Ballet

Guests at the Paris Opera Ballet Gala Rick Owens, Michele Lamy, Marisa Berenson, and Haider Ackermann. Photo courtesy Paris Opera Ballet

Dupont also confirmed that 2017-2018 will see more fashion collaborations – opening night featured costumes by designers Hussein Chalayan and Christian Lacroix. “I can tell you that all of them [designers] want to create for the Paris Opera. I can understand why they are excited – when you have a show, you have models walking, so just imagine your costume moving on the body via dance.”

Dupont was full of praise for designer Azzedine Alaïa. “I would love to collaborate with him. He brings a simplicity and complexity to his clothes,” she said. “When you look at them closely, you can see all the work. The clothes are good for dance as they are close to the body and elastic; it’s almost as though he is a designer for the dance world.”

Paris Opera Ballet

Sofia Sanchez de Betak and Alexandre de Betak. Photo courtesy Paris Opera Ballet

After the ballet, the 700 guests sat down to a gastronomic dinner coordinated by online restaurant guide Le Fooding, with each dish – a lobster and leek entré, lieu fish main, and apple and rose desert – prepared by star chefs Tatiana Levha, Christophe Saintagne, and Pierre Hermé. When the meal was over, and with the smell of thousands of exotic flowers (designed by fashion and event designer Alexandre de Betak) still hanging in the air, guests descended the grand staircase for the after-party. Following an evening of such extraordinary beauty and decadence, what more could one say than Encore!

Paris Opera Ballet

Surrounded by thousands of flowers, guests climb the Paris Opera staircase to reach their seats inside the Palais Garnier. Photo courtesy Paris Opera Ballet

Paris Opera Ballet

Lenny Kravitz. Photo courtesy Paris Opera Ballet

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