So instead of being at The Weihnachtsmarkt in Stuttgart satisfying my lebkuchen addiction or doing Christmas shopping at Breuninger, I find myself writing you from the Palais Garnier in Paris. Last weekend our director of production got me out of my morning class in Stuttgart to tell me that Brigitte Lefèvre and Mr. Anderson were impatiently waiting for me in Paris… because I had been chosen to dance Onegin with the Paris Opera Ballet!
I was going to be partnering the exquisite ballerina Aurélie Dupont because Nicholas LeRiche had been injured suddenly. My Onegin costume was packed in a suitcase and I was told that my train left in under 1 hour. I had no change of clothes, nothing, just what I was wearing and my Onegin costume! On the train I just tried not to think about the surprise and magnitude of the situation! The Paris Opera is known for rarely ever inviting any international guest dancers and the french capital also happens to be my favorite city anywhere. I had a butterfly-stomach for the whole 3,5 hour train journey!
When I got here I went to rehearsal, met the beautiful Aurélie and then Reid Anderson and the Opera staff coached us privately in a short run-though of the whole ballet in one hour. We were both a bit shy at first but I could tell that I already felt something very special for Aurélie and the intensity built-up very fast. The director, Brigitte Lefèvre then surprised me by telling me that she wanted the two of us to dance the opening night instead of one of the other four casts taking over. She also offered four more shows after that! Once Mr. Anderson agreed then that was it!
Half a week later we were onstage opening Onegin for a sold-out Parisian audience in the city where Ballet originated. I really wasn’t sure how the French would react to me coming and hi-jacking their Opening night filling in for their most famous current Etoile, LeRiche. I was pretty nervous about it but just tried to think about the role itself and everything that Reid Anderson, Tamas Detrich and Georgette Tsinguirides have given me so I could bring some ‘Stuttgart’ to a new audience here.
Thankfully, I have been blown away by the kindness and generosity of both the company and the audience each night, who obviously accepted this tall, akward Canadian guy from Stuttgart and I am grateful to be able to live this fantasy.
I am sorry to have missed debuting Fingerspitzengefühl, which Demis Volpi created with me and Marijn Rademaker for Aktion Weihnachten but luckily my colleague David Moore was able to learn the piece almost overnight and undoubtedly make it his own. I can’t wait to see it. I’m also thrilled to hear about some beautiful Stuttgart Swan Lake performances. :)
I wish you all a joyous Holiday season! See you back home in 2012!