Claude Bessy

Eminent figure of the ballet theatre (Ex-Etoile of the Paris Opera, former director of the Paris Opera Ballet School, actress).



Claude Bessy entered Ballet School when she was 9 years old. Four years later she was accepted in corps de ballet where she was noticed at once. George Balanchin staging “Crystal Palace“ and “Serenade“ gave her a chance to dance in full view of everyone. Serge Lifar, in his turn, also gave her a chance to dance in „Septuore” and „Snow Maiden”. Becoming the first soloist when she was 19 Claude Bessy danced a part of Oceanide in “Fantastic Wedding” (Lifar — Delannois) and danced solo parts in “Ways to Light” (Lifar — Orik) and “Wonderful Elena“ A little later, received a title of ballerina she startedworkingwithclassicrepertoire: “Giselle“, “SwanLake”, „Daphnis and Chloe” (staged by George Skibin).

Soon Claude Bessy gots an invitation from the American Ballet Company and danced the repertoire of this company in Metropolitan in New York. However, she had to interrupt her tour as the Board of the Opera called her to start rehearsals of the part of Antineya in „Atlantida”, opera-ballet of PierreBenois.Tomasi and Serge Lifar.

Beginning with 1959 Claude Bessy tried to open the doors of Opera for ballet-modem, first attracting pedagogues giving lessons of jazz and modem dances to dancers, and then inviting Jean Kelly to stage a performance to Gershvin's music. Thus, there appeared a ballet “Concert inFa“ and unforgettable “Pas de deux”. Michel Decombe used her artistic talent for his new stage version of „Coppelia”.

In France the performance was a great success. It was shown at the exhibition in Montreal in 1967 in the presence of general de Gaulle. As a choreographer Claude Bessy presented both in France and abroad her five ballets: “Play Bakh”, «Studio 60», “Ants“, “Motions“, „Concert in D”. After serious car accident threatening end her ballet career after the most complicated fracture of the leg the ballerina only thanks to unbelievable will power in eight months again appeared on the stage of Opera. It is then that Maurice Bejar asked her to perform „Bolero” by Ravel. And she performed it with triumph.

In 1972 thanks to her perfect command of classic dance and knowledge of the whole repertoire, as well as new dance disciplines, she became director of Ballet School. She demanded a complete revision of all school programmes.

In 1976 she completed the formation of new structures. Every year headed by Claude Bessy Ballet School presents a performance made up from the repertoire ballets (“Two Doves“, “Vain Precaution“, „Exemplary Animals”, „Cadets' Ball” and others). Claude Bessy opened widely the doors of her School.

Beginning from 1981 the School has constantly made tours to Japan and France. The School is attended by ballet pedagogues of all countries; it becomes world famous. There is an opinion that today it is the best ballet school. For fourteen years already the graduates of the School — the considerable part of whom joined the Opera company —join the ensemble without any difficulty, sharing its success and fame. It was stressed by press during the triumphal tour in the USA in June 1986.

From the very beginning other appointment in 1972 Claude Bessy struggled for a new building of the School, meeting the requirements of modem life. And at last in 1985 the first stone of this new school was placed in Nanterre: the ceremonial opening took place in October 1987. The area of the new premises allows to accept 180boarding-school students. Genera] education is also given to them at school. They can even get Bachelor Degree. There are 10 ballet halls, amphitheatre for 400 seals in the new building; it is also equipped with the latest video technique. The School will also train ballet tutors open a department for the advancement of professional dancers and will be able to accept foreign grant-aided students.

The leading dancer, director of ballet school, choreographer, author of two books (“Dancer-Star“ and „Dance and Child”), Officer of Honoured Legion Order, at present Claude Bessy is a model for each generation of dancers.




Patrice BartLuigi Bonino
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