Coming from the New York Metropolitan area, dance has always been a big part of my daily routine. When I was preparing to spend the semester abroad, I went searching for dance studios that were available in Paris, as that is where my academic program was taking place. I figured that I would maintain my level of training by attending some ballet – or, “classique” – and street jazz classes, but I had no idea that I would experience as much as I did. So, I packed my Pointe shoes and set off for the city of lights, where this little journey made a great impact on my dance experience.
I got to Paris in the summer and went exploring the different areas. In my first few days, I ran across a couple of “poppers” (i.e. dancers who study Popping, an umbrella form of Hip Hop), and I had a great interaction with them. We communicated back-and-forth and got to share our training; I shared with them the classic New York style, and they gave me a taste of the European flare.
This isn’t exactly atypical—I ran into many dancers on the streets of Paris. The most common places to find dancers are in the commonly explored parts of the right bank. The next time I would have a similar encounter is on the night of La Nuit Blanche.
This night, my friends and I were returning home after exploring the Paris in party-mode (La Nuit Blanche). Once we crossed the river and found ourselves back at St. Michel, I heard some ‘90s music blasting from some IPod speakers and caught up with another crew. Before I knew it, I ended up in a freestyle battle –i.e. Popping and Bboy—and I finally felt at home with some of the dance scene. To get to share that experience with some of those dancers was amazing (and they could tell, immediately, that I was from New York). From then I found an invitation to Le Cent-Quatre, where there was a spot to train. I would highly recommend seeing this community spot –it’s incredible!
On the other side of things, I kept up my training with my classical styles—I was in Paris, the birthplace of ballet, after all. Forget crepes, this city specializes in Pointe shoes and Tutus.
From the Breakers on the street to the classes around the city, there is not one corner of Paris that is absent of dance. The art form is present in every area and every cultural event. The city, itself, is alive with dancers… et c’est fantastique!
And for this, and more, I really do miss this city.