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Team Zarely: When did you start ballet lessons?

Pascal Molat: I started ballet lessons at the age of 12. I started taking Jazz classes in Montpellier in 1986. Few months later I passed the audition for Paris Opera School and studied there from 1987 till 1993.

Team Zarely: Did you decide to become a ballet dancer by yourself or it was your parent's decision?

Pascal Molat: It was my decision to become dancer. Actually, when I was 12 I had a tough choice to make: either train as a soccer player or as a dancer. I chose ballet :)

Team Zarely: What do you think is the hardest about being a ballet dancer?

Pascal Molat: Being a dancer is hard because it involves a lot of different things: physicality, artistry, memorization, coordination, musicality. What makes it a real challenge is to get all of those components in synergy, make them as one and that’s what I call DANCE.

Team Zarely: When young dancers ask for your advice, what are your recommendations?

Pascal Molat: Among many pieces of advice that one can give to an aspiring dancer about the technique, musicality, artistry etc. there is one I do like giving to my older boys (16-18 years of age). I tell them: “Don’t forget to dance!” It is related to what I’ve mentioned earlier about getting all those components together: always give your best, work hard but smart.

Team Zarely:  Pascal, what do you dream of?

Pascal Molat: I dream of the world where there is no more suffering. And for myself – I do wish to give acting a shot. It would be great to get an experience as a movie actor.

Team Zarely: What in your opinion is the key talent of a good ballet teacher?

Pascal Molat: Sharing the passion for dance, patience and knowing how to get the best out of each student.

Team Zarely: What is it like to judge the YAGP? Choosing the most gifted young dancer out of hundreds must be quite a challenge!

Pascal Molat: This year I was a YAGP Jury for the first time. And I must say the entire selection process was extremely exciting and I really appreciated being a part of it all. It was not hard to pick out a talent because it does stand out of the crowd. But what I found challenging was the fact that everything was happening at a great speed: all you have is one minute to see a variation and then a minute and a half to evaluate it in your sheet. I tried to comment on what each contestant needs to continue working and also give everyone a word of encouragement. Then I had to give another two different notes – on technique and artistry. So the whole judging process required a lot of stamina and ability to keep things in focus as you have to be sure you are giving the contestants the best evaluation, something they can build upon in the future.

Team Zarely: Do you remember your ballet teachers? Do you compare your teaching methods to those they applied?

Pascal Molat: Of course I remember all the teachers I had when I was in Paris Opera Ballet School. Every year we had a different teacher. Naturally you got along with some better than with others but my overall experience as a Paris Opera Ballet School student was great. Though I have to confess that my way of teaching is very different from what I got back then. My teachers gave me the fundamentals with the principle of repetitions. We were going through routines over and over again which is in many ways the very nature of being a dancer. But what I do as a teacher is trying to develop critical thinking in my students so they evolve faster and in a smarter way. I try to give them keys on artistry, musicality, physicality and technique – something to rely on in their future career. Paris Opera was all about strong discipline. Don’t get me wrong – we do need discipline as dancers. But I use a lot of humour and metaphors to make my students learn what I know. I noticed that retention level is a lot better whenever humour is involved. So it is important for me to improve my a ludic method of teaching so my students learn with pleasure and joy.

Photographs by HK Visuals and Zach Epperson