• Photo by Alain Hanel

Photo by Alain Hanel

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Inside Story of a Ballerina and Choreographer's Life

editorial & arteditorial

8 March 2019

"Dance is a way of life, dance is the rhythm of life." said Samuel Lewis. And that's exactly what I wanted to find in the interview with the dancer and the choreographer of classical and contemporary dance, Eugenie Andrin. A woman who seems fragile by her emotional delicacy but full of power by the abilities of her profession, a force which is full of femininity that captivates us and brings back to us the sensations of what the fate of a dream can be. Eugenie Andrin proved to be very talented as a classical dancer and also as a choreographer where she created many opera ballets, among which we can count The Magic Flute at the Monte-Carlo Opera (2008), La Traviata à la Opera of Santiago de Chile (2009 and 2015), Monte-Carlo, at the Opera-Theater of Saint-Etienne, at the Teatro Carlo Felice of Genoa (2013), at the Opera of Lausanne (2015), Manon at the Rome Opera (2010), The Man of the Mancha (2010) and Carmen (2018) at the Capitol of Toulouse, La Boîte à Joujoux (2012) with the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Kent Nagano, Duello Amoroso de Haendel at the Monte-Carlo Opera and at the Bordeaux Opera (2014), William Tell at the Monte-Carlo Opera (2015), The Pearl Fishers (2015) at Korea National Opera Seoul, La Gioconda ( 2016) at the Opera of Santiago de Chile, La Chauve-Souris (2016) at the Opéra de Marseille, Tannhäuser and Adriana Lecouvreur (2017) at the Monte-Carlo Opera, Aïda (2017) at the Shanghai Opera, Samson and Dalila (2018) at the Monte Carlo Opera.

You can read her inspiring and emotional stories in the future book written by Andra Oprea, Untold Stories from Monaco.

What is your story, this love story for this art that is in you, the dance?

I started very very young, at the age of three. My mother took me to her dance classes and the dance teacher saw that I was extremely captivated by everything that was going on. So, the teacher said it would be nice to take me to the dance class and, this is how, since that day, I've never stopped. 

What kind of dance did you start with?

Ballet! At first, it's the approach, it's the rhythm, it's the musicality. I started with fun exercises that prepare the classic technique. The teacher pushed me and I took many lessons. Then, I joined an excellent school in Cannes, Rosella Hightower. It was a high level of study. It means that we had school in the morning and, in the afternoon, there was the dance training. Including Saturday and Sunday when we were preparing the end of the year's show. Sometimes we ended at ten o'clock in the evening. It was an extremely intense rhythm. We had a minimum of three-four hours of dancing every day. For children of eleven, twelve, it was not easy. It's like a performance sport. But I loved it! I did not feel like I was working because we were all together!

How was the training, in fact?

We used to start at eight in the morning, going to the studio. Sometimes, it was cold and we were there with our rigid buns. There were so many in the class and we were all guided by "old fashioned" teachers with a strong rigor.

Are there any differences between the old and today's techniques?

There is a gap between generations! Me, I was in between the old-fashioned teachers who could send us a chair or hit us, and those of today. Verbally, they said things that come back to my memory, today, and I must say that, for a child, it's hard.

What did it have more impact on you?

I heard a teacher, once, say "stop looking at me like with your rotten calf eyes". They tore their hair, told us dirty words. They used to say: "Go do your auditions, you don't know anything, anyway. Go there if you think you are good!" For eleven years old children, these are really tough critics. I think there was some kind of teacher frustration that re-emerged on the students! For the older classes, some were demolished, morally dismounted. There were so many who had been shocked. We had a meeting of the elders of this school of Cannes and some young girls really stopped from dancing. They took a lot of time to rebuild because it was a dream that was torn apart. It's a more or less abrupt way of changing one's dreams. As I get older, there are things that come to mind, and I think that is unacceptable.

When all of these happened?

When I was fifteen-sixteen, in 1995 - 1996. After 1998, another generation of teachers appeared and everything has changed completely. There is more pedagogy, maybe even too much, because you can not touch the students anymore, and for the dance, you have to touch in order to feel things. Now, it's the opposite! The student must learn by himself. It is the student who must suggest it. You have to make him understand that he has to think in a certain way. In classical dance, often there is pure technique. In contemporary dance, there are more sensations, feelings. You have to be aware of your body. 

Emotions transgress in dance more than reason ...

Of course, but to transmit this emotion, you have to master the technique, especially in classical dance. It is difficult today to teach a young ballet dancer to keep the fun part for dancing. Dance is synonymous with suffering. Today it is masochism, it transforms a being.

We live now in a society of comfort ...

Absolutely! Today we are more attentive to the well being of the person, of the student.

The techniques are different?

In classical dance, no, because it's written since the time of Louis XIV. It's a frozen technique: we have to do what it takes to make it good. But there is an evolution in performance. We raise our legs much higher, we do a lot more pirouettes, it's the race for performance. But the rules, the codification in classical dance remain the same. That's why I, as a choreographer, I'm a little bored with this vocabulary because it is already written and leaves little room for the imagination. So, I looked for a more contemporary gesture that will open more ways to find emotion. In classical dance, the range of emotions is very limited.

In the big classical ballets, the story is about a prince, a princess, a theme, finally, they are jealous ...

It's the same line!

Yes, it is!

Do you think that classical dance will continue to live in the future?

As in a museum, there will always be someone who, when he knows how to dance, remains beautiful. Children prefer to see the classical dance because they see things they can not do. A little like the "circus", a virtuosity that is magical. From here it comes virtuosity!

Journalist: Andra Oprea