My drug? Big roles
From Colas to Basile, from James to Albrecht. And the character of his dreams, that he still hopes to dance. As leading parts are what the premier danseur at the Paris Opera has always been keen on. Now that he knows himself better, he tells ALESSANDRO BIZZOTTO what he really wishes for his future and why being alone suits him
I am nearly five minutes early when I arrive at the Palais Garnier, at the very beginning of a cloudy Parisian afternoon. Arthus Raveau is already waiting for me in a polite composure. The location of the interview, a small yet luminous office, is supernaturally silent.
Raveau, wearing dark post-rehearsal clothes, doesn’t seem that used to sit down and to talk that much about himself. Though probably it is just my impression. He often takes deep breaths before answering. Sometimes long pauses. If we make fun of something, his laugh bursts out loud and sudden.
Born Pierre-Arthur Raveau, he joined the Paris Opera Ballet in 2009 and won his last internal competition four years later, getting promoted to first soloist, or premier danseur. It has often looked as if Brigitte Lefèvre, who directed the company till 2014, was one of his first supporters.
Arthus Raveau in 'Don Quijote' © Julien Benhamou
You have probably been Brigitte Lefèvre’s last big discovery.
Yes, I think it is true. François Alu and me. I have been very lucky to start my career under Brigitte’s direction – she believed in me and supported me. Laurent Hilaire helped me too, when he became assistant director I started having the chance to dance leading roles.
They made you dance Colas in “La Fille mal gardée” and Basile in “Don Quijote” when you were in your very early twenties. Was it too soon to deal with such responsibilities?
At that time I didn’t think it was too soon. I just wanted to dance and to express myself. Of course I think that today, five years later, I would dance such roles better… but I don’t know if I would have been able to become premier danseur without those experiences, without what they had taught me. I wanted those roles, I felt strong enough to take on the responsibility to dance them. I felt I had broad shoulders. But I got injured more than once while dancing big roles, as if my body wasn’t ready to dance them.
Arthus Raveau in 'La Sylphide' with Mélanie Hurel © Ann Ray - ONP
How did you deal with that while still being at the beginning of your career?