- July 19, 2021
- Parisian theatre
- Eléonore Duizabo
Paris has long been known as a place of pilgrimage for fans of classical and contemporary dance. It’s not hard to see why. Every year, hundreds of dance shows are performed in the French capital by dancers from all around the world for audiences that flock from every continent. After a year deprived of physical contact and travel, there’s no more exciting prospect than a new season of Parisian dance shows to catch this year and next. Whether it’s ballet, contemporary, baroque, flamenco or hip-hop, we’ve got the low down on all the shows to get your feet tapping in Paris in 2021 and 2022.
At the Opéra Garnier and the Opéra Bastille
We couldn’t talk about Parisian dance without mentioning the city’s two most iconic dance establishments: the gloriously ornate Palais Garnier and the ultra modern Opera Bastille. With one building dating back to 1875 and the other a fresh-faced venue born in 1989, together the pair welcome the most renowned dance companies, orchestras, musicians and choreographers from around the world. As the gold lettering adorning the Palais Garnier attests, the opera houses offer a daily incarnation of “Choreography” and “Lyrical Poetry”. The Opéra National de Paris is also home to the Paris Opera Ballet, the oldest and most prestigious ballet company in the world. Throughout the year, audiences at the two opera houses are treated to spectacular performances by the officially entitled Étoiles and Premiers Danseurs, along with the corps de ballet and students of the Paris Opera Ballet School. Together, these different groups make up the dazzling dancers whose talents you’ll be able to admire right the way through the 2021-2022 season at the Paris Opera. The season will open with the critically acclaimed Play, a ballet choreographed by Alexander Ekman. This contemporary creation is absolutely unmissable! If you’re after a certified Parisian experience, they don’t get much Frencher than Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black). Adapted from the classic novel by Stendhal, this ballet is the most recent production from French choreographer Pierre Lacotte. For those seeking a more international flavour, Ashton/Eyal/Nijinski is a trio of performances by three of the finest contemporary choreographers. The dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet will round 2021 off in style with the ballet Don Quichotte by the legendary Rudolf Nureyev. Then they’ll flash forward to more contemporary pieces with Body and Soul by Crystal Pite and the choreography of Hofesh Shechter and Mats Ek. In April and June respectively, the Opera Bastille will be lit up by the ballets La Bayadère by Nureyev and George Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Last but not least, the twirling tutus of romantic ballet Giselle will mesmerise audiences at the Palais Garnier in June and July of 2022.
At the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées
Behind its ornate art deco facade on Paris’ most iconic avenue, the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées (or TCE for short) hides a whopping three performance halls... not to mention a classy restaurant with a spectacular view of Paris. Built shortly before the outbreak of the First World War, the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées had its heyday in the Roaring Twenties, when it offered an eclectic mix of music hall, ballet, opera and symphonies. For over a hundred years performers and creators of every type and talent have succeeded one another on the TCE’s majestic stage: Josephine Baker, Rachmaninov, Roland Petit, Louis Armstrong, Maria Callas and a whole host of others. That legacy remains strong today and you’ll only find the crème de la crème of the performing arts on the bill at this theatre. Over the last ten years, Théâtre du Châtelet has prioritised spotlighting contemporary new musicals and dance performances. In 2010, the theatre launched the Transcendance Festival, a jam packed programme of performances showcasing dancers of all styles, from every corner of the globe. For the 2021-2022 season, you’ll get the chance to discover pieces by several choreographers of the moment with the ultra modern show Dialogues, enjoy contemporary Cuban rhythms performed by the Malpaso Dance Company or applaud celebrated choreographer Winter Voyage to lilting melodies composed by Franz Schubert.
At the Théâtre de la Ville
On the bustling Place du Châtelet in the epicentre of Paris, two theatres sit face-to-face: Théâtre du Châtelet and Théâtre de la Ville. If these impressive stone edifices look alike, it’s because they were both designed by the same architect, Gabriel Davioud. Starting out as the Théâtre Lyrique, the Théâtre de la Ville staged the first operas by French composers Charles Gounod and Georges Bizet before it was burned down during the Paris Commune. Rebuilt from scratch, the theatre would undergo several identity shifts, including a stint as the Théâtre Sarah-Bernhardt, named after the legendary actress, who spent a period directing the venue. It was definitively baptised the Théâtre de la Ville in 1986. From the 1980s onwards, Théâtre de la Ville became the foremost French theatre for contemporary dance. The theatre expanded in 1996, opening a new venue in the picturesque Place des Abbesses among the cobbled streets of Montmartre. Then in 2016 it decided a new make-over was in order; since the theatre is being renovated, all of its shows are currently staged at the nearby venue, Espace Cardin. Presently directed by Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota, the Théâtre de la Ville is a national hub for theatre, exchange and innovation, with a firm focus on artistic experimentation. It hosts more than one hundred shows a year, including some nuggets of choreographic gold. For the 2021-2022 season, the theatre will be rolling out works by the greatest choreographers from around the world, including Lucinda Childs, Maguy Marin, Dimitris Papaioannou and Wang Ramirez, to name but a few. With its iconic location in the beating heart of the city, Théâtre de la Ville is the perfect place to see dance in Paris in 2021 and 2022!
At the Royal Opera of Versailles
For a truly sumptuous dance experience, why not enjoy a performance in the most palatial of all opera houses: the Royal Opera House of Versailles. It was on the stage of this venue that the marriage of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette was first celebrated. At that time, only guests of the royal family were allowed to set food inside the opulent opera house. A few revolutions and several renovations down the line, the venue as we know it today opened its doors to the public in 2009. It now offers a diverse programme ranging from baroque concerts to operas, not to mention contemporary and classical ballets. And you’re in luck: there’s no need to have royal connections to enjoy the 2021-2022 season at the Royal Opera House of Versailles. The end of 2021 will be devoted to dance with the baroque ballet The Four Seasons, set to the eponymous concertos by Vivaldi, and a new Swan Lake choreographed by Angelin Preljocaj. Later on in the year, the dancers of the Ballet Biarritz will usher in the summer with Marie-Antoinette. Through a seamless blend of contemporary and baroque dance set to music by Haydn and Gluck, the show delves into the vexed story of Versailles’ most contentious queen. Expect sumptuous music and colourful costumes galore. It’s sure to be a majestic 2021-2022 season for all lovers of dance.
At the Théâtre Libre and the Scène Libre
On the site that is now the Théâtre Libre, there used to sit Paris’ most famous café-concert: the Eldorado. On this stage in the 10th arrondissement, you might once have caught a glimpse of such stars of French entertainment as Mistinguett and Maurice Chevalier. Until, in 2000, the venue was rebuilt and renamed Le Comédia. Just a few years later in 2017, the producer Jean-Marc Dumontet bought the theatre and renamed it again: thus was born the Théâtre Libre. Dumontet had a second smaller theatre built around the corner, which he named the Scène Libre and which hosts exclusively new pieces. For the 2021-2022 season, these twin Parisian theatres will play host to several dance shows. First on the bill is the return of André Bescond’s award-winning production, Les Chatouilles, which has already moved thousands of spectators to tears. This hard-hitting one-woman-show tells the story of a woman sexually abused as a child, who uses humour, poetry and dance to find a way out of her trauma. This powerful show will be back on the stage from the 15 September. With an altogether different vibe, the talented dancers of the troupe Chicos Mambo are bringing two dance productions to the Théâtre Libre. First is their unique show Tutu, which won over the critics and is guaranteed to delight the whole family. Their next production is a new piece, Car/men. This innovative show blends the famous melodies of Bizet’s opera, performed live, with superb modern dance and flamenco interludes… not to mention a few hidden surprises! These three very different but equally spectacular dance shows can all be found at the Théâtre Libre and the Scène Libre in Paris in 2021 and 2022.
At Chaillot - Théâtre National de la Danse
The Théâtre de Chaillot is located on the iconic Place du Trocadéro, with its breathtaking view of the Eiffel Tower. Built in 1937, the theatre started out as the Théâtre National Populaire, founded by actor and director Firmin Gémier. True to its name, the mission was to offer high-quality productions that would be accessible for all. In 1948, while hosting the UN General Assembly, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed on the theatre’s stage. That could only be a good omen and, sure enough, numerous leading lights of French theatre have since spent a stint as director of the theatre. Founder of the Avignon Theatre Festival, Jean Vilar served his time, as did actor, director and poet Antoine Vitez. With all that history, it’s no surprise that the theatre has hosted some of France’s finest theatrical creations. Since the 2000s, Théâtre de Chaillot has focused on staging the best new theatre and contemporary dance. Now officially named Chaillot - Théâtre National de la Danse, this venue has become the most important stage for contemporary dance in France. Inside the gorgeous art deco architecture you’ll find works by choreographers such as William Forsythe, Angelin Preljocaj, Lia Rodrigues, and Phia Ménard. While lifting the veil on the theatre’s 2021-2022 season programme, new artistic director Rachid Ouramdane promised: "Touching, embracing, carrying, colliding, thrusting, supporting: these dance movements we have so missed in recent months will return and remind us what dance means to life." Chaillot’s new season will fly the flag of social connection and human contact, hosting new pieces by the creators Blanca Li, Jann Gallois, Emanuel Gat and many more. Discover the Chaillot’s 2021-2022 season in full.
At La Scala
No, you’re not in Milan, only the 10th arrondissement of Paris! This Parisian theatre may be inspired by the Milanese opera house but its history is certainly different… Born as a café-concert then reinvented as a cinema, the venue tragically closed its doors in 1999. Luckily for us, it was bought again in 2016 and given a total renovation. This new and ultra modern 550-seat theatre officially opened in 2018 with an eclectic programme ranging from music to visual art, with dance and circus performance in-between. Providing a platform for original pieces from France and abroad is the venue’s highest priority. With that goal in mind, for its 2021-2022 season, the theatre will be hosting the daring dance show Embrase-Moi. Devised by dancer Kaori Ito and her circus performer partner Théo Jouvet, this striking show paints a physical and sensual portrait of love and relationships. You won’t want to miss it this September and October at La Scala.
At the Théâtre du Châtelet
Appropriately nicknamed Paris’s Musical Theatre, the Théâtre du Châtelet specialises in all-singing, all-dancing musical productions. But that’s not all it has to offer! Built on the former site of the imposing Grand Châtelet fortress, the theatre holds a stage that is just as impressive. Its boards have previously played host to ballets, operettas, concerts, masked balls, and the likes of Isadora Duncan, Fernandel, Louis Mariana, Barbara, Miles Davis and so many more. From 2006 to 2016, Jean-Luc Choplin took over the direction of the Théâtre du Châtelet and brought Paris great American musicals like An American in Paris and 42nd Street, as well as contemporary takes on classic operas and all new choreographed performances. More recently, the Théâtre du Châtelet starred as the backdrop of the gripping conclusion of season two of the hit series Lupin! Since its creation in 1862, the Théâtre du Châtelet has become an iconic venue for dance of all kinds, hosting classical Russian ballets, contemporary dancers from all over the world and legendary tap solos from musicals. The 2021-2022 season is no exception to the rule: Pina Bausch's Bluebeard, Hofesh Shechter's Double Murder: Clowns/The Fix and Dimitris Papaioannou's Transverse Orientation are just some of the choreographic delights programmed at the Théâtre du Châtelet. It’s set to be a vibrant season for all dance fans. Browse the full season at the Théâtre du Châtelet here.
Inside Paris’ many cabarets
If Paris’ cabarets are renowned the world over, it’s thanks to the superb dancers that light up their stages! Let’s not forget that each cabaret is, first and foremost, a dazzling dance show with razor sharp choreography, dizzying can-cans and awe-inspiring acrobatics. The performers that bring these different venues to life are dancers who come from right around the world to join these prestigious shows. They juggle classic technique, modern music and choreography that’s always ahead of its time. At the Crazy Horse, you’ll be blown away by the ultra tight and ultra watchable choreography of the sell-out show Totally Crazy. It’s performed by the certified athletes that are the Crazy Girl dancers. You won’t be able to tear your eyes away from the Bluebell Girls and Lido Boys at the Lido de Paris. Their sparkling costumes, figure skating numbers and the jaw-dropping choreography come together in the Paris Merveilles revue. If that wasn’t enough, for its 75th birthday in September 2021, the Lido will be putting on an all-new variety show that’s bound to take your breath away. Come and enjoy a taste of paradise at The Paradis Latin. The cabaret’s latest show, L'Oiseau Paradis, choreographed by Kamel Ouali, breathes new life into the traditional French can-can and beckons you into an exotic fantasy. The Paradis Latin dance troupe set the cabaret’s stage on fire with fabulous dance sequences and acrobatic feats. Several years since its creation, the Cabaret Burlesque continues to thrill audiences! This tongue-in-cheek striptease offers a more ironic take to cabaret that’s full of humour, glitter and uproarious fun. The show promises a hilarious evening in one of Paris’ most iconic locations: aboard the cosy Nouvelle Seine, a barge-cum-theatre anchored just metres from Notre Dame Cathedral. To add an extra dose of glamour to any of the cabarets, you can enjoy our indulgent deluxe offers and turn your standard Parisian soirée into a lavish night to remember.
Translated from the French by Anna Livesey
We would love your input!
If you’ve been to Paris before, are planning a trip, live in Paris, or dream of visiting one day we would love to hear about your experiences and expectations in the famous city through taking our survey!
On top of that, we would love to see what kind of knowledge you have about the theatre and events industry. If you would be willing to take the time to help us learn more, click the button below!