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25.4.09

Manuel Legris Exits Stage Right

Manuel Legris
Manuel Legris, dancer (photo courtesy of manuel-legris.com)
One of the celebrated ballerinos of the Opéra de Paris's ballet, Manuel Legris, will accept the company's mandatory retirement (at age 44 1/2), in a special performance on May 15, after final appearances in the debut production of John Cranko's Onegin, with music from Tchaikovsky's opera. An article by Ariane Bavelier (Les adieux de Manuel Legris, meilleur danseur du monde, April 23) for Le Figaro takes a look at his career (my translation):
The Garnier was his home since the age of 11. Everything happened within its walls: the life of a "ballet rat," the competitions to climb up the hierarchy of the corps de ballet, the nomination for stardom by Maurice Béjart (annulled by Nureyev, who still wanted to wait), the taking of roles, the ovations. "The memory that still blows me away was my entrance audition at the École de danse. I can still see myself in a bus coming up the Avenue de l'Opéra with the Palais Garnier at the end. Was it really there that I was going to spend my life? The cattle calls were like a medical visit: we were 120 kids in our underwear. My mother flipped out: 'I have never seen so many children as beautiful as that in my life: how could you possibly make it?' After that, I was never afraid again." The Legris rocket had found its launching pad.
The director of the École de danse remembers Legris for his enthusiastic style, marked by "extraordinary musicality and natural coordination," saying that "he left everything on stage and sometimes no one arrived who could follow him, which was his only fault." Legris will also give a performance as Charlus in the Roland Petit ballet Proust ou les intermittences du cœur at the end of May. The May 15 performance will be preceded by a special honor, the grand défilé du corps de ballet, during which the 100 students of the École de danse and the 154 dancers of the company will process solemnly across the stage.

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