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At the funeral of Pierre Lacotte, tears for a dance master

Those who love them took the train.

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At the funeral of Pierre Lacotte, tears for a dance master

Those who love them took the train. Or the plane. To be with Ghislaine Thesmar, his muse, and to say goodbye to Pierre Lacotte, who died on April 10 at the age of 91. Coming from La Scala in Milan, Manuel Legris and Dominique Meyer, from Munich where he directs the Ballet, Laurent Hilaire, from Moscow, Katia Novikova who oversees dance at the Bolshoi, Sylvie Guillem from the Alps where she retired, Angelin Preljocaj from Aix en Provence, Marie-Agnès Gillot from Houlgatte, Hugues Gall and Éric Vu An from Nice, all were there this Friday at 2 p.m. at the Saint Roch church where the religious ceremony was held.

All of them and many more: at the Dance School, Elisabeth Platel had closed classes, and the teachers were there, as well as a host of stars, Jean-Guillaume Bart, Agnès Letestu, Dorothée Gilbert, Hugo Marchand , Marc Moreau, Elisabeth Maurin. And Gilbert Meyer, who worked with Gustave Ricaux as Lacotte who was just two years older than him... The Olympus of dance was assembled, the one who, from one generation to the next, transmits the refinements of French school, the one that Pierre Lacotte embodied on his own.

Brigitte Lefèvre had watched over the organization with a sensitive and efficient hand. Pierre's body ascended the nave carried by some of his favorite dancers: Cyril Atanassov, Gil Isoart, Manuel Legris, Laurent Hilaire, Karl Paquette and José Martinez. In the choir, dozens of wreaths of flowers in white and green. The white of lilies, roses, lilacs, carnations, braided with foliage. On one of them was the name of Sergei Filin, director of the Bolshoi ballet who had commissioned The Pharaoh's Daughter from him. Pierre Lacotte and Ghislaine Thesmar have always known how to impose the most exquisite elegance in their manners and their dance. It permeated even their arguments. Renowned for the intelligence of their coaching, they often made dancers work. We then saw them scrapping against each other, making an assault of humor and precision, but always in a formal manner.

José Martinez, director of the Paris Opera ballet, opened the ceremony with a first tribute. That of a dancer who was named a star in Pierre Lacotte's La Sylphide, danced his Paquita, commissioned by Brigitte Lefèvre, so fearsomely difficult that the dancers had nicknamed it "Pas-qui-tue". "You have been a guide, a master, and a benchmark for us and for some of us a father", remembered José Martinez. He also recalled his “vibrant love” of our art, his commitment as an archaeologist of dance, resurrecting lost ballets and promising that they would remain linked to the repertoire of the Paris Opera.

Brigitte Lefèvre took the floor in turn recalling that as a child, she had met the mother of Pierre Lacotte. She had explained to him that Pierre was in New York to discover modern dance. A curiosity that had led him to become an incessant researcher of 19th century dance. Demanding about every detail, every step, every costume, every decor that he designed himself from engravings, he had succeeded in bringing these ballets of yesteryear up to date! Brigitte Lefèvre also evoked their passionate exchanges when deciding on the distributions: "He adored the dancers while criticizing each one, we gave what was best while laughing a lot". Anne Salmon, accomplice of Pierre Lacotte, who spent most of her career as a dancer with him, recalled his taste for Beauty, "a reason from God."

In his homily, Father Luc Reydel, chaplain to artists at Saint Roch, opened his arms to the assembly of dancers: the time when the church condemned them is over. And to recall David's dance, before God, with all his might to express his joy. At the exit, then on the steps, the applause crackled for Pierre Lacotte, one last time. And those who knew him well saw him come on stage for the greetings, elegant, in a suit and tie, his eyes curling with mischief, joy in his heart, holding the hands of his dancers whom he thanked delighted, finally happy with the work accomplished before embarking on a new adventure. Kudos to the artist!

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