Skip to page content

Paris Opera Ballet's Sae Eun Park in Swan Lake

Paris Opera Ballet

About this Artist

The Paris Opera Ballet—the cradle of classical dance—has for more than three centuries maintained a tradition of excellence, built on the preservation of its repertoire and openness to innovation. The principles of choreographic technique, imported to the French court from Italy by Catherine de Medici in the 16th century, were modeled and refined first in the court ballets, then during the reign of Louis XIV. The Sun King, eager to transform the courtly style into a truly theatrical entertainment, founded the Royal Academy of Dance in 1661, then the Academy of Opera in 1669, which in 1672 became the Royal Academy of Music (the original name of the Paris Opera), comprising the first troupe of professional dancers in Europe. The Paris Opera Ballet has continued to evolve over the centuries and remains a home of living art to this day. 

Its repertoire is vast: reference works of the Romantic era (Taglioni, Coralli, Perrot, rediscovered thanks to Lacotte) and great classical ballets by Petipa, remounted by Nureyev; works by Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes; modern choreographers (Graham); neoclassical ballets (Ashton, Balanchine, Lifar, MacMillan, Petit, Robbins, Neumeier, Cranko); and contemporary classics (Bausch, Béjart, Carlson, Cunningham, Ek, Forsythe, Keersmaeker, Kylián); not forgetting numerous commissions from guest choreographers (Lock, McGregor, Pite, Preljocaj, Waltz). The Company numbers 154 dancers, selected primarily from its School of Dance, currently directed by Élisabeth Platel. The average age of its dancers, at 25 years old, makes it one of the youngest companies today. The Paris Opera Ballet has been led by Aurélie Dupont since August 2016.