by Jolan Thouvenot
In between a costume fitting and a taxi for the airport, the prima ballerina and WELLNESS WAVE’s muse Dorothée Gilbert took the time in her busy agenda to make this interview possible. Free and easy, confident toward the future and without any pressure, each one of her answers was sublimed by a communicative smile that can be felt within the lines of these pages. Challenges, trainings, relaxation and mindfulness… The discussion is about excellence, not perfection.
Where are you going today?
The Paris Opera Ballet is going on tour to the Madrid Teatro Real and I am a part of the show, there will be 5 performances in the 10 next days. It is the Jewels ballet created by the choreographer George Balanchine, inspired by the 3 greatest dance schools of the world: the French school is represented by the Emeralds, the American by the Rubies and the Russian by the Diamonds. It enhances the different forms of dance developed by these prestigious schools. I am part of the red Rubies… It is going to be physical and short of breath, almost a marathon race! Americans like dancing with intensity!
I guess you will prepare other interpretations right after these dates!
There will be the Swan Lake at the beginning of the year in Paris, another tour is planned in Abu Dhabi for Jewels, Romeo and Juliet later on, then Singapore with the Paris Opera and in Japan this summer for a personal gala. So yes I will be on stage until July! I am going to travel a lot this year!
Is there any challenge for you during this first part of the year?
The Swan Lake is a magnificent ballet but also demanding regarding my dancer aptitudes. I will have to work a lot on my flexibility to find my own way to incarnate this character, it has to be pleasant for me to enjoy it. This will be my challenge for this year a coming.
And how do you will overcome to it?
I’m about to practice yoga as much as I can to be able to bend some parts of my body properly. I will have to raise my legs up and I need to be prepared for that. I am not a flexible dancer… And to work on my arms also. I already practice all of these forms of looseness regularly but I’ll have to train even more to perfect my Swan Princess role.
What about your training sessions and rehearsals?
It depends of the plannings management, the programs, the shows ongoing… Our plannings have to be flexible too! (laughs) But we can rehearse from 11am to 7pm with a 30 minutes break or simply for 3 hours. It really depends. Everyone involved has to find a time and a place during the repetitions. It’s ever changing to be honest with you.
How do you keep the intensity of this rhythm?
I sleep a lot! (laughs) I am a dreamer and a 10 hours sleep is perfect for me! It’s unfortunately not usual but I try to be rested and to eat very well to be in good shape at work. I also try to go often to my physiotherapist for muscular recovery. Sleep, quality food and massages are the most important things to me.
My question could sounds crazy but do you practice any sport above all of that?
No I really couldn’t, as professional dancers we are already doing sport all day long and at the end we are all tired! I practice yoga, stretching… but no sport, it is already enough!
Yoga is such a great discipline, how would you describe it with your own words?
It’s a moment to be alone with myself. I am thinking about absolutely nothing and concentrating on my respiration. It feels good to clear my mind and listening to the only pace of my breath… It’s a time I really love to keep during the day in a way to recenter my thoughts.
And how do you create your own well-being?
By taking care of me, having proper moments for me, disconnecting from our society which always asks us to do more and faster, restlessly… Taking the time, as simple as it is. It actually came with the time, moreover since I am a mother because I have more things to do now. I used to do it when I was younger. We’re doing it naturally when we are children but becoming adult, with all the obligations, work… All these illusions we can’t stop running after like money… We are losing the essential and it’s important to go back to it.
How does it influences your free-time?
When I am abroad I try to visit places the most as I can but I also have to preserve my legs. I can’t walk the entire day, which means no museums per example but I try to be one with my environment, to go at nice restaurants… but not too much. At home in Paris, I disconnect by having an intimate time with my daughter, I look at her playing in her world or I go for a nice walk without running from point A to point B. I just need to feel that I am here. This feeling of presence is very important. Being aware, here and now when I am doing the things of the daily life. I have to think about it a lot because it doesn’t come automatically.
Something made you change regarding this need of awareness?
No I’ve been always passionate by buddhism, I’ve read a lot about the Zen philosophy, it attracted me since ever. Meditation, yoga… all these forms of mindfulness have always caught my attention.
Feeling alive is very good indeed, is there any reading that influenced and shaped your perception?
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. When you read it it seems obvious and easy but at the moment you try to apply this philosophy in your life everything feels different. When you finally achieve it, the feeling is just marvelous. We always think about the past, we always try to control the future, “You have to do this or that”, “You have to think about this and not about that”… and we finally forget where we are and what we are doing, which is wrong and irrelevant.
Talking about the instant, about what do you think when you are dancing?
Dancing it’s the only time where I can properly meditate! (laughs) It’s unconscious though, I am here like never, aware of everything, thinking about nothing. I listen to the music and let myself go with my movements to enjoy every instant. I am myself on scene. I don’t force anything. I feel free, free even if I play a character. I live, I die and resurrect… My mind and body are entirely dedicated to my role and it makes me feel such incredibles things because I am living it. I really feel everything. This is why it is so important to live in the present, otherwise the story goes by itself and we aren’t into it. We have to be here at the present time and not after because after is already too late.
Like in life I would say, before I let you go to catch your plane, what is the most beautiful thing in life for you?
What is beautiful for me is to see the kindness of someone who’s one with its own self. You can feel it when people found and understood themselves, then they become radiant. This is beauty to me. Men and women shining because of being themselves. I am not talking about perfection but these people are rare and meeting some of them is an impressive experience. Enlightening… Shining… Shining by being yourself!