The Paris Opera Ballet Dancing Offstage

Work, Grace, and Race

in French Politics, Culture & Society
Tessa Ashlin Nunn Maître de Langue, École Normale Supérieure de Lyon, France

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The spaces in which amateur and professional dancers practiced their art greatly changed during the Covid-19 pandemic due to the closures of theaters and dance studios, yet dance continued to bring people together online. This article studies the media presence of the Paris Opera Ballet (POB) between March 2020 and May 2021 to analyze how the aesthetic and moral concept of grace has evolved. During this difficult year, dance took on a therapeutic role as POB dancers offered free online classes and performed in video work, in addition to taking on a political role as discussions about racism in ballet sparked public debates.

Contributor Notes

Tessa Ashlin Nunn received a PhD in Romance Studies from Duke University. She is a maître de langue at the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon and an associate member of the Institut d'Histoire des Représentations et des Idées dans les Modernités (IHRIM). Her research focuses on dance history, media and film studies, and nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature. Her current book project concerns dance scenes in nineteenth-century French novels written by women.

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