Danseur étoile

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Danseur étoile (for men) or danseuse étoile (for women), literally "star dancer", is the highest rank a dancer can reach at the Paris Opera Ballet. It is equivalent to the title "Principal dancer" in Anglo-Saxon countries or to the title "Primo Ballerino" or "Prima Ballerina" in Italian.

The term étoile had been used to designate the best soloists of the Paris Opera Ballet since the 19th century, but it was only in 1940 that ballet master Serge Lifar decided to codify the title at the top of the company's hierarchy.[1] Unlike all lower ranks in the Ballet (quadrille, coryphée, sujet, premier danseur), promotion to étoile does not depend on success in the annual competitive examinations. Dancers have to perform in leading roles, sometimes for many years, before they can be accorded the rank by the director of the Paris Opera, after nomination by the head of the ballet (directeur de la danse), in recognition of outstanding excellence and merit.[2]

There is no specific rule regarding the nomination. Étoiles are usually chosen from among the premiers danseurs (the highest rank achievable through examinations), but exceptionally some dancers, such as Manuel Legris or Laurent Hilaire, have been promoted directly from the lower rank of sujet.[3] The nominations were initially made in an administrative setting, then later backstage with the curtain closed. They now take place at the end of a performance, with the curtain open.

The title is conferred for life and is therefore kept after retirement, which is set at a maximum age of 42, like for all other dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet.[4] The maximum number of active Danseurs étoiles within the company, originally limited to four, has progressively increased over time and is nowadays set at eighteen.[3]

List of Paris Opera Ballet étoiles[edit]

By year of nomination (first date, second date corresponding to year of resignation or retirement):



  1. ^ a b "Le chemin des étoiles, 1940–1972". Google Cultural Institute.
  2. ^ La Danse, film by Frederick Wiseman, 2009, 159 min.
  3. ^ a b c "Le chemin des étoiles, 1972–2014". Google Cultural Institute. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
  4. ^ "Retraite des danseurs de l'Opera National de Paris".
  5. ^ "La danseuse étoile Aurélie Dupont fait ses adieux à la scène". Vanity Fair. 19 May 2015. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  6. ^ Boisseau, Rosita (26 September 2017). "Danse: les adieux d'une étoile sur une rivière de joyaux". Le Monde. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  7. ^ Atanasio, Sofia (2 April 2018). "Marie-Agnès Gillot a fait ses adieux sur la scène de l'Opéra de Paris". France Musique. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  8. ^ Jouve, Sophie (18 February 2016). "Benjamin Pech, des adieux à la scène de l'Opéra en forme d'au revoir". Culturebox. Retrieved 21 February 2016.
  9. ^ Renard, Bertrand (14 May 2017). "A Garnier, les adieux en solo de Jérémie Bélingard sous une pluie de confettis". Culturebox. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  10. ^ Bavelier, Ariane (30 December 2018). "Karl Paquette, un grand pas vers l'avenir". Le Figaro. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  11. ^ Bertrand, Amélie. "Adieux à la scène de Josua Hoffalt". Danses avec la plume. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  12. ^ "Laura Hecquet : "Première étoile nommée par Millepied, ça me touche encore plus"". Culturebox. Retrieved 24 March 2015.
  13. ^ Boisseau, Rosita (29 December 2016). "Germain Louvet élevé au rang de danseur étoile". Le Monde. Retrieved 29 December 2016.
  14. ^ "Léonore Baulac nommée danseuse étoile de l'Opéra de Paris". Le Monde. 1 January 2017. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
  15. ^ Boisseau, Rosita (3 March 2017). "Hugo Marchand nommé danseur étoile à Tokyo". Le Monde. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  16. ^ "Valentine Colasante nommée Danseuse Étoile de l'Opéra national de Paris". Opéra national de Paris. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  17. ^ Park, Jae-eun (11 June 2021). "Korean ballet dancer Park Sae-eun named "star" dancer at the Paris Opera Ballet". Korea Herald.