Diversity On The Stage Of Paris Opera House

2021-02-10   |   by CusiGO

The death of the white policeman arrested by African American George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020 has spread to Paris Opera, not in the form of choreography, but as a fuse for profound institutional change. After the outbreak of anti racism protests all over the world, including France, Last summer, he began to analyze his own practices and traditions. He didn’t like what he saw very much. After an internal complaint, months of reflection and a comprehensive report, the iconic French institution announced that it was committed to diversity and changing traditions, which was incompatible with a world increasingly aware of the importance of inclusion and demanding higher standards.

Among other things, the Paris Opera House is committed to “re examining its recruitment and selection criteria”, especially in its dance school, nursery of famous ballet, choir and even Orchestra, and “supporting the presence of artists from diverse sources”. Although their classic repertoire will not disappear – a rumor that sparked heated debate in December, especially after far right politicians and the media accused the agency of succumbing to “culture abolition” and “crazy anti racism,” as marine Le Pen denounced – they will eliminate it Like black face and yellow face, they have used it to perform some of the most famous ballet “exotic” characters so far.

“Diversity is the biggest deficiency of the Paris Opera House,” said Pap Ndiaye, an ethnic expert, professor and historian at the famous Academy of Sciences in Paris, who wrote a more than 50 page report reminiscent of George Floyd at the beginning. And Constance rivi รจ re, Secretary General of human rights defenders (the French ombudsman), who is the platform for the reforms announced on Monday. In the past five months, at the request of Alexander nev, the new president of the Paris Opera House, they have studied the issue of diversity, a problem that the Germans encountered when they arrived in the French capital last summer, In these months, inspired by the black life movement, she strongly protested against police violence and racism.

But if it’s a spark, the problem is there. Even for centuries, as the Paris Opera’s Declaration on race recalled, it opened “a taboo free discussion and implemented necessary and beneficial reforms” for the agency, which supported 300 of the 1500 workers distributed to it. The author points out that as early as 1776, Louis XVI’s nomination of musician and composer Joseph Boulogne de Saint George to lead what was then known as the Royal Academy of music was opposed by the stars of the institution, who were “angry that queen Maria antovaneta might hold this high office.” To the son of a black slave. ”

In a December article on ongoing change, Le Monde recalled that only five of the 154 color dancers at the Paris Opera House were responsible for filming the agency’s machines in search of greater diversity. This suggests that the root cause of the lack of diversity is the recruitment of dancers and other institutional members, as well as other daily problems, perhaps so far, as a small detail, except for those who suffer: the lack of makeup for dark skin forces those who don’t like it They are white and can offer their own products; barbers who know how to comb Crespo’s hair, such as those with black blood or without suitable materials, such as light colored dance shoes for white skin only.

In the past few months, some problems have been solved, but there are still basic problems that many other art institutions in the world share, Although in some places, they have also begun the work: the New York City Ballet has eliminated black and yellow faces, which the authors of the Manifesto define as a “make-up practice inherited from the colonial era,” designed to be an exaggerated object of ridicule and condescension, Characteristics of racialized individuals “- 2014. A year later, he joined the Royal Ballet of London. Minority issues are also a key issue for opera Canada, which has been running neef until it moved to Paris, where it soon started: on September 22, it commissioned Ndiaye and Riviere to prepare the report. “At a time when the performance of demographic diversity in the scene and our musical and literary heritage is at the center of an often lively debate, I want to determine how to develop practice within our institutions,” he explained in the letter, which he entrusted to them.

Five months later, the result was an extensive report that pointed out that the problem of diversity existed not only among agency staff who “lacked inspiring role models,” but also in their repertoire: a show “heirs of the 18th and 19th centuries,” whose work “tended to make the non European world exotic,” and Black and yellow faces are very special issues, even “White Ballet tradition.”.

The report proposes 19 amendments, and the Opera House summarizes six points. In addition to better promoting diversity in recruiting young dancers and musicians, including “working with the territories as well as conservatories and schools of music,” the opera house will appoint a “diversity and inclusiveness task leader” to submit an annual progress report. A scientific advisory committee composed of “domestic artists and outsiders” will also be set up.

In terms of repertoire, in addition to “identifying stereotypical situations and characters”, it will also include “unknown or forgotten works due to diversity” and “systematically providing the key to understanding to the public through programs or lectures on works”.

“We are proud that we are the first large-scale cultural organization in the country to launch such a process,” Neff told AFP, expressing confidence that more institutions will “follow suit” in the future.