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Reception in honor of the Paris Opera Ballet’s 2012 U.S. tour

Publié le July 9, 2012
Speech by Ambassador François Delattre
Residence of France, July 5th, 2012

Dear Brigitte Lefèvre,
dear Members of the Paris Opera ballet,
Bienvenue à Christophe Tardieu, Olivier Aldeano, Laurent Hilaire,
Dear Kennedy Center’s staff members,
Dear Olivia Flatto, Chairman of the American Friends of the Paris Opera and Ballet,
Dear Supporters, Dear Friends,

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you all to the Residence of France to celebrate the opening night of the Paris Opera Ballet at the Kennedy Center. Even though, as a diplomat I am very often involved in subtle “pas de deux”, I promise that I will not appear on stage tonight!

I want to personally express my deep gratitude to Michael Kaiser for giving the company this extraordinary opportunity. The Paris Opera Ballet has not appeared in Washington since 1993!
It is both timely and appropriate that, after so many years, it returns with Giselle, which has been part of the company’s repertory since its creation in 1841. Giselle is one of the most beautiful and powerful works in the history of dance. Indeed it is the quintessential romantic ballet, and the supreme masterpiece of the “Ballet Blanc”. Tonight the Paris Opera Ballet will not only provide us with an opportunity to witness its exceptional artistic legacy. It will also allow a new generation to experience its magic.

Dear Brigitte, you are the director of — if I may be allowed a moment of national pride — the best ballet company in the world! You are a true inspiration for all of the dancers, who are so fortunate to work with you. Brigitte, we are deeply honored to welcome you and the dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet.

I would like to add that The Paris Opera Ballet is a splendid ambassador between our two countries. (I figure that it’s not by chance that they have elected the period between Independence Day and Bastille day for their come back to the American Capital!) The company very often invites guest choreographers from all over the world to create new works.

American dance legends such as Merce Cunningham and Trisha Brown have participated in these exchanges, and masterpieces by Martha Graham and other Americans have become part of the company’s repertory.

This month-long US tour - in Chicago, Washington DC and New York - offers an ideal example of cultural diplomacy. It demonstrates the powerful exchange of ideas and feelings that occur when people from two countries share a genuine artistic experience.

I deeply thank both the Paris Opera Ballet and the Kennedy Center for their fruitful cooperation. I would also like to especially recognize all those who made this tour possible :

- the American Friends of The Paris Opera and Ballet, represented tonight by its Chairman, our dear Olivia Flatto - welcome to her husband Adam too - , their Président Edward Reilly and their executive director Hall Witt and several outstanding and generous
members and donors.
You are a wonderful team and we cannot thank you enough for your commitment.

A warm word of thanks also to :

- SAFRAN, represented by its senior Vice President for International Department Bruno Cotté and its President and CEO in the U.S. Peter Lengyel

- to the Annenberg Foundation

- the Florence Gould Foundation

- and Vacheron-Constantin Company, represented by Ellen Sorensen
Your support has been critical to the success of this tour.

We will tremendously enjoy tonight’s performance. I would like to wish the Paris Opera Ballet, its dancers and its leadership the very best for this historical visit.

And again my warmest thanks to each and everyone of you.

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