Gaumont’s ‘Ballerina’ Brings the Stars of the Opera de Paris to Audiences Around the World
Cleverly released during the holiday season – a time when audiences are gearing up for stories told through dance (Nutcracker!), Gaumont’s 3D animated feature film, Ballerina has its own inspirational story to tell.
Set in 1879, the story follows the journey of a young orphan girl named Félicie (Elle Fanning), who dreams of becoming a professional ballerina. After fleeing her orphanage and traveling to Paris with her friend Victor (Dane DeHaan), she sneakily lands a spot as a student in the Opera de Paris.
When the instructor announces that the students will compete for a lead role, Félicie gets guidance from the caretaker, Odette (Carly Rae Jepsen). And she needs all the help she can get, as Camille (Maddie Ziegler) attempts to undermine her.
The Dancers Behind the Ballerina Movie’s Characters
While the cast of voice actors may be well-known for their Hollywood roles, the performers behind the dance moves are equal stars in their own right, as some of ballet’s top dancers in Paris – and around the world.
Aurélie Dupont and Jérémie Bélingard, are dancers who served as Etoiles (dancers of the highest calibre) for the Opera de Paris, lent their impeccable ballet skills to the film.
Together, they have created characters that move smoothly and flawlessly, with the kind of precision that can only be acquired through a lifetime of being engaged in the intense study of dance.
Actor Aurélie Dupont was a Ballerina Against the Odds too
In a 2012 interview with Timeout New York, Dupont tells the reporter that when she joined ballet, she felt as though she was different, and that her skills were behind the level of others in her class. This might be because Aurélie, like Félicie, joined dance at a later age than the other young girls, who had been dancing since they were three.
“I started real classical dance when I was nine and a half,” says Dupont in the interview. “So I was really not a good ballerina. I think I had talent; I was supple, I was skinny, but I didn’t know anything about dance,’ she admits.
She also describes herself as being “nothing like the other ones,” with “hair that was really messy.”
According to Dupont, she had to work hard, even at a young age to get her body in shape, but was quickly enthralled with how her muscles responded by becoming toned and attuned to the movements.
Something else that she admits adoring? None other than the redheaded character ‘Annie.’
Are you seeing parallels?
Read about Aurélie Dupont’s journey and see for yourself.
Get a Glimpse of the Dancers Behind Ballerina’s Animated Performance: Watch the Opera de Paris Etoiles video profiles
In Jérémie Bélingard’s profile video for the Opera de Paris he says that dancing is a spiritual experience
In Aurélie Dupont’s profile video for the Opera de Paris she highlights the importance of a dancer’s facial expression to the performance.
Ballerina is Yet Another Example of the Progression of 3D Animation Technology
With Gaumont’s Ballerina, it’s clear that 3D animation technology has come a long way over the past few decades.
According to the animator, keyframe technology was used to translate the actors’ techniques into the characters’ smooth movements. The realistic and very ‘human’ performance is sure to dazzle – and perhaps even vault Ballerina into a new holiday movie staple.
Notice of Correction: A previous version of this article cited motion capture technology as part of the animation process, however, Ballerina was created using keyframe.