When she became a First soloist at 23 she still didn’t know how stressful dancing a leading role could be. Today, five years later and fresh from her promotion to Étoile, Valentine Colasante feels much more comfortable on stage as, according to her, “things come from our inner self”. The new star of the Paris Opera Ballet is never worried about technical tricks and finally feels free to explore different sides of herself while dancing. ALESSANDRO BIZZOTTO had a long chat with her to find out why.
I have been waiting her for a few minutes. Then, when she enters, Valentine Colasante simply smiles, cheek kisses me and asks “Ça va?” leaving her bag on the floor almost absent-mindedly. On a still-too-cold day in Paris, she has just finished morning rehearsals. She wears a stylish, long-sleeved burgundy leotard and she looks happy to have a break to sit down and have a chat.
It is the first time we meet after her promotion to Étoile last January 5, following a performance of “Don Quixote” in which she danced Kitri, five years after becoming a First soloist (Première danseuse, as the French say). Valentine has always been a good talker – she is someone able to light up the room just with her laugh.
We are sitting in a small study of the Palais Garnier. She stretches out her legs on a little sofa as she loosens her hair from its tight bun and smiles again in a knowing way. Born in Paris to parents originally from Italy, Colasante is a bright product of the French ballet school – she started taking ballet classes with Max Bozzoni till she entered the Paris Opera École de Danse in 1998. I still remember her technical brilliance when I saw her having her debut as Gamzatti in Nureyev’s “La Bayadère”, a very few years ago.
Your family is a family of artists, isn’t it?
It is, my mother is a ballet teacher and my father is a jazz pianist.
Was becoming an artist your calling?
Let me say I’ve always felt free to choose what to do in my life, becoming an artist was not forbidden for sure in my family. Actually, my mother was quite worried when I started taking ballet classes – she was happy to see me enjoying it but, when I tried the audition to join the Paris Opera Ballet School, she warned me that it wouldn’t be easy, many sacrifices would be necessary. However, she started encouraging me when she realized I was totally committed and I truly loved dancing.
You joined the Paris Opera Ballet at 17 and things went quite fast. You won your last intern competition at 23, getting promoted to Première danseuse, or First soloist.
The first two or three years were not that easy. At school I had my routine and I was used to it … taking classes, eating at the same time every day, going to bed quite early. Joining the company and becoming a professional dancer broke that routine – you never know in advance when rehearsals will end for the corps de ballet, you have performances in the evening, you start living on your own. You become an adult but you are still seventeen, after all. It was quite tough at the start. Things went rather fast anyhow, you are right…