Pascale Is taking her daily warm-up class at the Studio Paris-Centre with her mentor Nicole Dehayes, when Ballet de Marseille Roland Petit's Ballet Mistress, visiting in search of male dancers for the company, notices her and offers her to come to Marseille for an audition with "Maitre" Petit.
In September 1979, she gets an apprentice contract and starts working in the corps in "la Chauve Souris" , "The Nutcracker" and "Carmen". Company member after 6 months, she quickly gets solo opportunities in the new "Schubert " creation and her first principal role in the revival of "Les Forains". She is promoted Soloist in January 1981. She is just 19.
In the early 80"s, the guest artists at the Ballet de Marseille are a feat for a young dancer's eyes. They come from all over the world to dance the famous Roland Petit ballets: Karen Kain, Loipa Araujo, Peter Schaufuss, Natalia Makarova, Rudolf Nureyev, Mikhail Barishnikov, they all take class with the company; not to forget the delightful Mireille Bourgeois, and Paris Opera marvel Dominique Khalfouni joining the company, which provide daily inspiration to starry eyed Pascale....
The company teachers expand her understanding of technique: Azzari Plissetzki, Tatianna Grantzeva, Jorge Garcia, Jacqueline Fananas each bring their specific knowledge of tradition and style.
Company life is exhilarating: touring takes the Ballet de Marseille in Eastern Europe, Italy, and the New World: Canada and the United States.
Pascale Leroy: the Dancer,
Up-Right: First solo in Schubert; Left: in the Corps, Carmen.
Above: First Principal Part: Belle Endormie in Les Forains, with Jean-Charles Gil, 1982.
Can-Can and Waltzes
(Photos Jean-Vincent Mineo)
In 1981, Peter Schaufuss sets La Sylphide in Marseille. The excrutiating detail of the original Bournonville choreography, down to the direction of the gaze, and preserved in an enormous book in special notation, leaves a profound mark on Pascale's formative years. The deceptive simplicity of the steps hides tremendous technical demands; the whole experience of making the most difficult dancing look effortless and elegant is, afterall, the very essence of ballet. Now she can feel what it comes to. And it is a rapture!
One of the most momentous event in the early eighties is undoubtedly the MET engagement of the Ballet National de Marseille. The company brings guest artists such as Noureev, Makarova, Dupont, and Roland Petit's masterpieces like Notre-Dame de Paris, Proust, L'Arlesienne. The company's soloists get to share the big parts with the stars- on matinees. But the New-York critics, as professional as can be, come back to see them, and Pascale's lead performance in Proust and l'Arlesienne, gets beautiful reviews.
Proust: les Intermittances du Coeur:
La Sonate Pas de Deux, avec Jean-Charles Gil
(Photo Eduardo Patino)
(From my scrapbook)
L'Arlesienne, with Jean-Charles Gil