With En corps, Klapisch recounts the second life of an Opera ballerina

Filmed during confinement, the new film from the director ofA family resemblance honors Marion Barbeau, first ballerina of the Paris Opera and young actress.

It feels like a ballet working session, except that the man alongside the Paris Opera dancer is not a coach but Cédric Klapisch. The director of The Spanish inn loop his last film, In body, a small “miracle” turned in the middle of a pandemic. On the stage of the Théâtre du Châtelet, which this week hosted the last days of the filming started in December and also carried out in La Villette and in Brittany, Marion Barbeau signs her debut in the cinema and a return to the stage, while the cinemas of show have been closed for more than five months.

The 30-year-old ballerina has thus returned to “Strong emotions that you only find in the theater”, although the experience varies considerably once in front of the camera. “A ballet presented in front of an audience is very frontal. Here, it’s more subjective. We guide the viewer where we want the eye to land ”, affirms to AFP the first dancer of the Paris Opera, rank preceding the supreme title of star.

“The sense of detail”

She tirelessly repeats an arm movement in a scene from The Bayadere, a 19th century ballet in which the heroine dances before injuring herself, which shatters her dream as a star. Cédric Klapisch, who fell in love with dance at the age of fourteen, multiplies “Action!”, the “Cut!” until you get a gesture “air”. The dancer, at the Opera for twelve years after having been a “little rat” for six years, specifies: “In dance, the rendering is more global. Here, you should think, for example, only of your hand … It’s interesting because the sense of detail is more developed. A sudden microphone would absolutely not be visible to the public, but on camera, everything can be seen. “

Unlike some movies like Black swan favoring actresses like Natalie Portman and liners for the roles of ballerinas, the director has chosen real dancers for his fourteenth feature film, which is scheduled for release in 2022. One of his films, Russian Dolls, had already rubbed shoulders with the world of classical dance with the ballerina Evguenia Obraztsova who played one of the characters. Klapisch had also made a documentary on the star Aurélie Dupont. “There is something wonderful about ballet, and when you have access to the backstage, it’s even more magical”, he is ecstatic.

Besides Barbeau, which the director found “Touching” The cast includes Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter and hip-hop dancers Mehdi Baki and Léo Walk in a cast that includes actors Pio Marmaï, Denis Podalydès and Muriel Robin.


While writing the screenplay, the director of Chinese puzzle had no idea how the story of the injured dancer would appear to be “A metaphor for what we experience, on isolation, on stopping something”. Dozens of masked people sneak into the Châtelet room who will form the film’s false audience. Backstage, ballerinas in tutu warm up and, on stage, the Klapisch team scrutinizes a close-up of Marion Barbeau’s eyes on the screens.

“I find it amazing to have made this film [qui fait partie des 239 films agréés en 2020, NDLR]. There was this side “we can’t but we do it anyway” “, enthuses the director. Shechter, whose troop is based in Great Britain, “Told me it was a miracle because all of their shows had been canceled.” They were in a daze because they hadn’t danced for months. Suddenly, paradoxically, this Covid gives something to the film. ”

Especially since the heroine ends up rebuilding herself after a meeting with Shechter’s troop. Cliché where contemporary dance is “liberating” in opposition to the “straitjacket” of classical? Both the director and the ballerina reject this interpretation. “No one wins over the other”, emphasizes Klapisch.


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