Cupcakes & Conversation with Fanny Gorse, Coryphée, Opéra national de Paris
What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning ?
Monday morning, I need a latte and some music on my way to the Opéra. Then I find my best friend Allister at the same place at the barre and the week can start!
Why ballet ?
Why ballet? Well, I hardly know… I started ballet once a week when I was a kid but my favourite day of the year was the show in June, with the costumes, make up and the great music! I felt great on stage even though I could barely move! I remember a little part my sister was doing on Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet; the ball at the Capulets (the dance of the knights) and I was fascinated.
What are you looking forward to dancing during the 2012/2013 season & what are the big challenges likely to be for you ?
This season starts with a Balanchine’s program. I’m in Agon and this is a big challenge! The music is fantastic but very difficult, and you are surrounded by soloists; it is very exiting! Then, it is Don Quixote, the Nureyev version. I’m dancing everything in the corps de ballet, and I’ve got this small part, the two friends of Kitri which is very good, and I can’t wait to learn and work on it! After that, I’m going on tour to Australia, dancing Giselle and that is great. I don’t know the rest of my season; the company is so big we have two theatres, so we will see!
Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance ?
I wish I could dance many things! Le Bolero, by Maurice Béjart, because it is one masterpiece, powerful and beautiful, and Swan Lake, for the music, the incredible Pas de Deux and the work with the arms…
If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance ?
I’ve already danced “en plein air” (outside) but if I could dance on a beach in front of the sea that would be priceless.
How do you prepare your pointe shoes ?
I’m wearing Freed pointe shoes. They need a little bit of work to fit perfectly. I step on the box. I put some varnish so they don’t get too soft too fast. I cut the insole but just the little one, and then I put ribbons – special ones, they are kind of elastic and you can barely see them when I’m on stage. No elastic around the ankle. And voilà!
What is your daily routine at the moment ?
I go to the Opéra, take my class from 11.30 to 1pm, then I’ve got stage rehearsal for Agon. Then, it’s the lunch break and then it is time to get ready for the show around 5.30pm. The show starts at 7.30pm. For the premiere and the second show, we started the evening with the Défilé, with the entire company.
What do you eat during the course of a typical working day ?
I start with coffee and milk that is for sure! Then it depends. I eat pasta, or a ham sandwich because I don’t have much time to eat lunch. I love vegetables, fish or a good steak, but I’m not the best cook. . We need to eat healthily because of what we do. Ballet is art but it is sport also.
You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite ?
I would invite Mikhail Baryshnikov of course, Jamie Cullum because he is THE singer/musician, David Lodge, may I say Barack Obama, so he could explain the American politics to me and because he is so charismatic, Kate Moss and my grandmother because she would talk to all these people so easily and make the dinner a moment to remember!
What would surprise people about you ?
I had plastic surgery when I was 16 because I had sticking out ears!
Who inspired you to dance ?
Well, I think like a lot of young dancers, the amazing video of Mikhail Baryshnikov and Cynthia Harvey performing Don Quixote.
What is your best piece of advice ?
Enjoy every moment on stage, dance!
How do you prepare in the hours before a show ?
At around 5.30 pm I start with makeup. I do it by myself. And then the hair! I get a little help for that because we need to do so many different hairstyles (French pleat, sometimes we wear wigs etc…) and my hair is so long! Then I go to the “Foyer de la danse” and I do another barre to warm up. Then I put my costume on and I go on stage. I need to be there at least 10 minutes before the show.
How do you deal with the stress of performing ?
I have an essential oil, ylang ylang. I put that on my wrist. It really works!
Which role has tested you the most & how ?
The scherzo in Balanchine’s Jewels. I was 19 and a girl got injured so I had to stand in for her; I only had a couple of rehearsals, I barely knew the choreography! But it was one of the best moments; this ballet is fantastic!!
If you were asked to design your own ballet costume, what would you create ?
It would be a long dress, black because this is the ultimate colour! Very simple.
What do you look for in a dance partner ?
Strength! I’m tall… I need someone I can easily talk to when we work and share moments on stage! And considerate.
What is your favourite quote ?
“La seule façon d’accomplir est d’être” Lao Tseu. (my translation will be terrible – “the only way to accomplish/achieve is to be”). My mum gave me that card at a difficult moment… It is so true.
Do you have a ‘signature step’ – one that comes naturally to you ?
Well chaines are my specialties! In French they are called “Déboulés”. I can turn very fast and I think this a lot of fun! And maybe my arms, you can express so much with them.
A phrase I use far too often is … ?
“oh mon dieu” and I don’t even know why!
What’s been your best on-stage moment so far ?
My first year in the company; I was seventeen and performing Artifact Suite by Forsythe. My first time on stage with the Paris Opéra Ballet in Garnier, what an experience!
Do you have a secret skill which no-one knows about ?
I learnt English watching movies and listening to music!
In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be in a year from now ?
I wish I could be a sujet. It is a rank I wish I could be promoted to. When you are a sujet you can dance a little bit more and you get access to soloist roles. It is kind of a dream for me.
What is your exit strategy, for the time when you stop dancing, and how did you plan it ?
Maybe something to do with physiotherapy. And have kids to take care of, what a wonderful thing to do!