By Rain Francis of Dance Informa.
After a very successful dance career at the Paris Opera Ballet, Jacques Marsa has become one of France’s finest ballet masters and teachers. And this summer, young dancers will have the opportunity to learn from him – and kickstart their dance careers with European scholarships and audition invitations – when he tours Australia and New Zealand in an exclusive series of summer workshops.
We are excited to have you in Australia. Have you worked here before?
“A few years ago, I visited Australia for the first time as a guest to the 200th anniversary of the creation of Australia in Canberra. I was at the time vice-president of the general counsel in the Yvelines Department and was there to help reproduce a Versailles gardens performance. That was my only experience there, but I’ve never travelled to Australia as a dancer or teacher yet.”
What is your opinion on Australian dancers that you have seen?
“I have not had the chance yet to meet Australian dancers. This will be a discovery on its own for me too!”
You lead an exciting life! Where has 2014 taken you?
“I am coming back from Quebec and Montreal where I just taught some master classes. Today I am in Stuttgart at the John Cranko ballet school for two weeks. Then in February 2015 (after my Australian and New Zealand tour) I will be back in Montreal and in May again for my international competition. In June, I will be in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to teach at the National School of Ballet.”
What are the key ingredients that make a successful ballet dancer?
“To succeed as a dancer is the result of a true alchemy. First, we must find someone with a body that is suitable aesthetically. The dancer then must be logical, a hard worker and with the essential artist within him or herself.”
What is the greatest lesson you have learned so far in life?
“The most important thing that I have learned is to stay humble no matter what. Being questioned constantly as a dancer with never-ending improvement is essential to reach the professional level. This can be achieved by using a strong willpower to reach specific objectives.”
As a young dancer, who did you look up to?
“As a young dancer, I admired Rudolf Nureyev, Maurice Bejart, George Balanchine and other dancers such as Jorge Donn, Cyril Attanasoff, Vladimir Vasiliev and many more!”
What do you think about the state of the dance world today?
“In the world we currently live in, dance has become an extremely varied and diverse form of art.
Ballet, which is what I teach, has evolved a lot. The bodies of the dancers have changed. The technique is more pure. It is also approached in many different ways, which is something that I have learned through my numerous trips as a master class teacher. It is a real exchange of knowledge. It’s simply amazing and a shame that not many teachers get to experience the variety of what’s out there.”
What is your favourite role to dance?
“The role in which I took the most pleasure was Romeo in Romeo and Juliet from Prokoviev.”
In Australia, a lot of dancers train in RAD or Cecchetti; how does the French school differ from these styles?
“The French school of ballet has this unique quality which is that it is the source, the foundation, of every single other school of dance in the world. The same way as French language has evolved throughout the years, the French school of ballet has also experienced major change over the centuries, depending on the countries it immigrated to.”
At the Summer Schools, there will be opportunities for older students to receive invitations to international ballet competitions, scholarships to world-class schools and private auditions with professional companies. What will you be looking for and what companies/schools may be involved?
“In order to receive such opportunities the dancers will have to prove high physical abilities (more potential than actual technical skills), strong demonstrated willpower (observed throughout the classes), as well as a strong desire to actually become a professional dancer. Some of the schools are: Rudra Bejart (Lausanne, Switzerland), Rosella Hightower (Cannes, France), Ecole National de Marseille (Marseille, France), John Cranko School (Stuttgart, Germany), Brussels International Ballet School (Brussels, Belgium), Ecole Royale de Ballet (Anvers, Belgium), National Ballet School (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Ecole de Ballet (Quebec, Canada), and more!”
Find out more or register for the Summer Workshops at http://internationaldancecentre.com/ibw-registrations/.
Photo (top): Jacques Marsa teaching young students. Photo courtesy of Jacques Marsa.