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Etoilé Ballerina Eleonora Abbagnato in Shocking Pink Schiaparelli at the Opera De Paris



SCHIAPARELLI Shocking Pink at the Opera featuring ELEONORA ABBAGNATO for IRK Magazine.

Fashion Film by Only Fashion Network for IRK Magazine

Eleonora Abbagnato is an Italian ballet dancer, model, and actress. She is currently an Étoile at the Paris Opera Ballet and is the director of the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma.

She started dancing at the young age of four. At 13, she toured Europe with Roland Petit's The Sleeping Beauty, in the role of Aurora as a child. She was then admitted, after a private audition, to the "Ecole de Danse" of the Paris Opera as a fellowship student. Her career moved quickly as her determination led her to interpret Roland's most beautiful roles: "Coppélia", "Le jeune homme et la mort" and "Carmen". In three seasons, the prodigy climbed the ladder and finished first dancer in 2001. Named Etoilé in 2013, she was one of the first foreign dancers to be awarded this title at the Paris Opera.

We caught up with Eleonora in her dressing room at the Opera De Paris before her Schiaparelli photoshoot for IRK's latest issue Story Time!


Eleonora Abbagnato in « SHOCKING » Coat in shocking pink silk moiré. Pants in shocking pink silk duchess satin. Schiaparelli July 2018 Haute Couture collection. Photographed at the Opera de Paris by French Cowboy.

Your story as a Ballerina began at a very young age. What was it about dance that won your heart as a small child and is it the same today?

I started dancing when I was only four in a small private dance studio in Italy in Sicily. Noone in my family danced. My mother had a small clothing shop above a dance school and I would watch the dancers and I wanted to dance at four and I have not stopped since. By the age of 8 I passed all the most important competitions and I won. I was spotted by a very important choreographer, Roland Petit, who selected me to join the Marseille ballet at only 10 years old. He told me I needed to go to Paris so at 12 I auditioned with the director Claude Bessy who selected me for the the Paris Opera Ballet School.

Has your passion for Dance stayed the same ever since?

I have never stopped dancing and I have never wanted to stop. I am still passionate by dance. I now have a second role has as I am now the director of the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma. It has opened up a new passion in dance to work with others.

Since 2015 you have been the director of the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma while continuing to be a etoile ballerina at the Paris Opera. What changes have you made to improve the ballet in Rome?

I go back and forth every week. I have a great team in Rome that help run the Opera in Rome while I continue to dance in Paris. I am dedicated to supporting young talent and to pass on what I have learned in Paris including rigor, dedication, perfection. I bring all my contacts too and am bringing the best choreographers to Rome.

Narrative ballets are captivating stories through movement. How important to you is the narrative and specifically the characters you portray as a ballerina?

Each dancer has a strong personality. We can interpret a role differently. Acting combined with dance can be challenging but it is what I enjoy the most. You need to be in the role from the moment you enter the stage to tell the story. A real story. The most important dances for my career have been dances with a story. I have played strong female roles with character including Carmen which is the role that made me an Etoile dancer. Carmen choreographed by Roland Petit. Each role is different but the best choreographs give us the gift of making these characters our own. Making it real, alive and emotional are important to us and to the spectator as well.

You have also acted for film and television.

Yes I have had the opportunity but to be good you need to dedicate time to the craft. I have been on television and in film often but it is very different from dance and it takes time to really research ones characters . I am currently writing a screenplay on my life as a dancer that should be released next year in Italy.

Do you have a favorite Ballet and why is it your favorite?

You have worked with some of the most incredible choreographs including Pina Bausch, Nicolas Le Riche and Benjamin Pech. To what extent is the creation of the ballet with a choreographer a collaboration and does that vary depending on the choreographer.

The most important reason to be a ballerina at the Opera de Paris are the choreographers we get to meet. They allow us to grow the most. I worked with the best including Pina Bausch when I was only 18. William Forsythe created a ballet here in Paris that I performed in. These coreographs will mark my life forever with their talent. They give you confidence in your self and as an artist. We met all the best choreographers at the Opera De Paris.


Eleonora Abbagnato in Story #2 ”Pink Victory” Long dress in velvet printed with a psychedelic dégradé and shocking pink georgette. Schiaparelli new Ready to Wear collection. Photographed at the Opera de Paris by French Cowboy.

Now that they know you and you have had years of experience do the choreographers treat you differently?

Yes in friendship and trust. I just re-danced the "La Dame aux camélias" with choreographer John Neumeier. He only made me work for two days and then he put me on stage. He saw me perform the dance when I was 21 and again now at 40. He knows that I have 20 plus years of experience so yes it is different now.

There are so many different and impressive street dances being created by young people. I have remarked that a lot of classic dance moves have been borrowed by street dancers. Do you think that the inverse is true as well?

It is difficult for a ballerina to do street dance. It is a lot of extra work. For me it is not interesting because street dancers and specifically hip hop dancers are so talented. We are neoclassical dancers and yes we dance modern ballet but it is very different from street dancing and the time it would take to master both would be too much. The dances are not comparable and we have to work very hard as it is.

You have been at the Paris Opera for more than half your life what made you so faithful?

There was a year when I thought about leaving because it was taking too long to be nominated an etoile ballerina. I used that year to work internationally and it was a great experience meet people from all over the world who helped me grow but finally I could not leave the Opera de Paris. I started here, I was a young ballet rat and I was formed here and next year is my last season. As you said I spent half my life here but The Paris Opera is the best and from here one can dance anywhere in the world. So it very difficult to leave. The dancers who leave are courageous to give up the reputation of the Opera because you will never find better.

Since 2015 you have been the director of the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma while continuing to be a etoile ballerina at the Paris Opera. What changes have you made to improve the ballet in Rome?

What is next for you?

My next ballet is Carmen, a modern ballet close to my heart. I am starting to prepare it now. I also have a project with Dior in Rome. I am collaborating with creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri who will be designing the costumes for the dance I will be performing in March in Rome.


Eleonora Abbagnato in « SHOCKING » Coat in shocking pink silk moiré. Pants in shocking pink silk duchess satin. Schiaparelli July 2018 Haute Couture collection. Photographed at the Opera de Paris by French Cowboy.

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OPERA DE PARIS

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STORY TIME issue 8


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