Dancing around the world with Pauline Perraut
Pauline Perraut, one of our corps de ballet dancers at the CND, began her studies in a private school where she trained under some of the best teachers from the Paris Opéra. Her love of travelling led her to train at different courses in cities throughout Europe. At 18, she joined the Ballet de l’Opéra de Bordeaux and, later, she started touring the most renowned theatres of Italy. She has been a part of the Compañía Nacional de Danza since 2016 where, in each piece, she reveals her versatility and her inherently natural dancing style.
You were born in Paris, where many a renowned artist has honed their craft. What made you devote your life to art?
I think my mum was a big influence to start with; she always liked dance. I started at four. I was a very active little girl and my parents tried to channel that by signing me up for a lot of sports. But it was my ballet teacher that told me I should focus on ballet. Once I was older, it was me who decided that dance was what I wanted to do.
Through your training you were fortunate enough to learn at the hand of great masters from the Paris Opéra; in what specific ways do you think that has influenced your development as a dancer? Does anything in particular stand out?
The one that really left a mark on me was Eleonora. She had a very broad vision of dance; something not all that usual in France, where a narrower view is projected. She developed my abilities and helped correct my mistakes, establishing the base I have now.
You also extended your training doing courses and workshops in European cities, such as Prague and Berlin. What did these experiences bring you?
They gave me the chance to work with different choreographers. Also, they kept me working intensely during the summer months, really helping me to improve.
At 18, you joined the Ballet de l’Opéra de Bordeaux, directed by Charles Jude. What ballet do you remember most fondly?
The piece Suite en Blanc by Serge Lifar. It’s a very French piece lying somewhere in the middle between the classical and neoclassical. Lifar has been one of the choreographers to really mark French style.
In 2015, you got to dance Giselle at the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma under the direction of Eleonora Abbagnato. In 2020, you danced it again with the CND; this time with choreography and stage direction by Joaquin De Luz. What was the work process like in each case?
I have such good memories. In the production for the Rome Opera House, they did a different Giselle, very much built around the French style. In the CND version, Joaquin De Luz has modified the period it is set. Both are very different from each other and, while you remember the overall structure, the style of each one varies a lot and you need to learn a new choreography.
What differences stand out for you?
The Rome Opera House one is a traditional classical version. But Joaquín De Luz’s choreography has some very differentiating elements. It is set in Spain, in a very different period: in the 18th Century. The first act introduces Spanish styles from the bolera school, which I like a lot. The second act is more classical; only the wardrobe is modified, which also makes it comfortable to dance.
Having worked with a variety of choreographers, what style do you identify with most?
I come from a classical base but my style tilts toward the neoclassical. I like it because it has classical moves but with greater scope. I feel really comfortable doing neoclassical with points. I also like contemporary.
You’ve also spent some years dancing in different venues in Italy and other places. What’s it like to live dance outside your own country?
I’ve had some really good experiences. For instance, now, in the Compañía Nacional de Danza, we’re doing a lot of tours and that’s really special. You dance on many stages and you also go to many cities helping you get to know the country’s culture. I love travelling, discovering and trying new things.
Would you like to go back home at some point?
I don’t know. My life here in Madrid is very balanced. I’m in a company that gives me work and, also, I like the personal life I have here. I miss France but, in Madrid I feel at home. I’d like to work many more years in the Company.
In 2016, after three tries, you manage to enter the Compañía Nacional de Danza, under the direction José Carlos Martínez. What was that fight to enter the CND like?
It’s a difficult process because girls from all over the world are chasing just one or two openings. You’ve got to work hard at it but also get lucky. I was clear that I wanted to join. Every time I came to Spain, and there was an audition, I would put myself forward. Eventually, when José Carlos Martínez told me I’d passed the audition and he offered me a contract, I really did not expect it. It was such a thrilling surprise and I didn’t think twice on accepting it.
Why the CND?
I remember when I saw the Company perform in Paris. I just loved the show. I saw great qualities in the dancers and very versatile styles that really struck me. I like the CND’s repertoire a lot and felt it could be the right place for me professionally and personally. What’s more, I have Spanish family members.
What would you highlight about Joaquín De Luz as director?
Joaquín has a very contagious energy. You can just see he is a great dancer. He has a perfect musicality and it is a real pleasure to work with somebody who has such quality of movement. I’m learning a lot from him.
In 2019 you danced in Carmen, by Johan Inger; a piece that you will interpret again in June with the Company. Are you looking forward to repeating this ballet?
Very much. The first time I danced in Carmen was in Shanghai and, since then, it has become one of my favourite pieces. At the CND we are now holding auditions to dance the different roles and I hope to dance in it again. It’s a very special ballet for me; it is art. I think it is a great fit for the Company and it is a pleasure to be part of that.
To finish, how do you plan to celebrate your birthday this year?
I’ve reserved a small terrace café with friends. Very simple and laid back. I like to celebrate with people who are close to me.
PAULINE PERRAUT – CORPS DE BALLET CND
Interview by: Natalia del Buey