Mindful of the fact that the make-up of the dance sector does not fully reflect the diversity of our society, this new initiative seeks to offer economically disadvantaged teenagers a supplementary training programme so that they can aspire to a professional career in the dance field, regardless of the symbolic and financial hurdles they face. Choreographic creation must be coupled with diversity if it is to remain alive, inventive, and relevant to its era. Accompanying artists from less privileged backgrounds in their professional training is thus imperative, both to ensure that these dancers’ careers can flourish, and to continue to stimulate the creativity of the sector.
For its first year, Élan is operating on a local scale, partnering with the CN D to draw on its resources and its grass-roots ties with the surrounding region of Seine-Saint-Denis, which suffers from particularly marked social inequalities. Dance training begins at a particularly young age compared with other artistic forms, and so it is essential to come in at an early stage to ensure that the most vulnerable young artists can continue to perfect their craft. Élan is thus open to young people aged 15 to 18 undertaking advanced dance training in conservatoires in Aubervilliers/La Courneuve, Aulnay-sous-Bois, Bobigny, Pantin, Le Blanc-Mesnil, Montreuil and Bagnolet.
The programme offers these young people the chance not only to progress as artists but also to immerse themselves in choreographic culture and to boost their confidence. This “accelerated” year will allow them to confirm their desire to undertake professional artistic training and, where necessary, to consolidate this choice with a wealth of resources in terms of methodology, careers and theory. Starting in September 2021, a first cohort of twelve to fifteen students selected through an audition process will thus enjoy an artistic accompaniment of some 450 hours over the course of the year, which will take place at the CN D over weekends and school holidays, and which aims to ensure that they can go on to secure a place at a prestigious dance school.
Created and piloted by the CN D with the support of the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès, and coordinated by Raphaëlle Delaunay and Christophe Ives, this equal opportunities programme is the first of its kind in France. This first year will allow the CN D and partner conservatoires to test out and perfect the programme, with the aim of making Élan a permanent fixture in Seine-Saint-Denis.