Dear Patrice Bart,

Your constancy and loyalty to dance and the Opéra Garnier are
exceptional: 54 years of activity in this great institution,
during which you gave yourself literally body and soul to your

You were struck very young by the universality of body language that
only dance can offer. At 12, you are at the School of Dance; at 14
years, you enter the Corps de ballet, which is already a feat to
this age. In 1963, it is as a coryphea that you receive the award
René Blum, who distinguishes the most promising young dancers.

Named First Dancer, you win the first prize of the Medal
at the international ballet competition in Moscow in 1969. With the
complicity notably of John Taras who directed the Opera Ballet in 1969
and 1970 and who entrusted roles as soloist, you arrived in 1972,
thanks to your interpretation of the Prince of Swan Lake, to be named
Star dancer.

This title opens the door to all the great roles, from Petroushka to
prince of Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote or Son
Prodigy. The greatest choreographers offer you key roles in
their creations. I am thinking in particular of Serge Lifar, Roland Petit, or
Kenneth MacMillan. The London Festival Ballet invites you
produce for several performances throughout the 1970s.

As a Star, you confront different choreographers, choreographers and
different national traditions – so many experiences that will suit you
give a very broad overview of the art you serve.

Because very quickly, while you are at the peak of your art, you prepare your
reconversion, first as a repeater, then as a ballet master
in 1987. You are actively involved in the artistic organization of the
company and you are co-director, with Eugène Polyakov, of the
the Paris Opera at the departure of Nureyev in 1989. From 1991, you
are a ballet master, associated with Brigitte Lefèvre, director of
Paris Opera. This supreme function allows you to ensure the quality
of the ballet by perpetuating the tradition taught by your masters and
bringing your personal touch. Star of the Company, you in
become the guide, to transmit the secrets of
your art.

At the same time, you are developing your choreographic activity and your
international creations. You sign a Don Quixote in
1993 which will be presented at the Staatsoper in Berlin and then at the Opera Ballet
from Finland to Helsinki.

As Maurice Béjart said, Dance [is] a minimum
explanations, a minimum of anecdotes, and a maximum of sensations.”
It is a little on this idea that you created Coppélia, your first
choreography for the Compagnie de l'Opéra. You have indeed returned to
literary origins of the myth, inspired by the strangeness of the tale
Hoffmann. Dorothée Gilbert, who plays Swanilda and
Mathias Heymann in the role of Frantz, gives your characters all
their depth. You have essentially worked the springs
their relationships to reach the quintessence of myth -
what only dance can transmit in such a singular way.

Today, by resuming this unique show that the National Opera of
Paris has programmed to honor you better, you have us
offered for your best departure.

Your creations draw on myths at the borders of reality and fiction,
in very dreamlike worlds where heroes are confronted with the
in a significant loss of reference points. In addition to
Coppélia, I think of Don Quixote, Giselle, Swan Lake. You
love the paradox of ballet that requires control and mastery
perfect body while bringing the dancers to let go, to the
release of the perfect movement. Like Nureyev, you refuse to
cheat. The dancer must embody, in the proper sense, his character and that is
tension between control and letting go, between the body and the
lightness of movement, which you have been able to transmit with such talent.

By your choice of creations, by the specificity of your choreographies, you
have been able to travel with genius this ridge line between the reality of the body
and the spirit of the gesture.

If, as you say, “dance is a part of life,” you have
after more than fifty years at the Paris Opera National de
withdraw to let life speak outside the company.

At the end of this wonderful evening, I wanted to salute the artist who
devoted all his life, all his time and all his talent, to an art that you
have served in a unique way, bringing together the qualities of the dancer, the
choreographer and master of ballet. With you, the Opera Ballet knew
maintain its very high ranking in the world thanks to your ability to
to reconcile the extreme demands of the classical tradition with the
renewal and openness. For everyone’s happiness, you
have contributed in a masterly way to its influence in the world.

On behalf of the French Republic, dear Patrice Bart,
Commander in the Order of Arts and Letters.