MEETING. Laura and Jérôme Tisserand: the two new stars of the Monte-Carlo Ballets

Jérôme et Laura Tisserand - ph-min
Alice Blangero

The dancing couple joined the dance company last August.

Large studios, huge mirrors facing the barre, ballet shoes carefully lined up against the walls… It is in the rehearsal studio of Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo that the company’s dancers work tirelessly in preparation for their next performance. Among the performers enjoying their lunch break is a couple of dancers who have just arrived: Laura and Jérôme Tisserand. Both joined Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo in August, straight from the United States.

Before discovering sunny Monaco, Laura, Jérôme and their two daughters lived in Seattle, where the couple danced for the Pacific Northwest Ballet. She is of American origin. Born in Louisiana, Laura joined the School of American Ballet in New York, before joining the Seattle company. He was born in Lyon and joined the petits rats of the Paris Opera. He then did a summer internship at the Miami City Ballet, before also studying at the New York school, then dancing alongside his wife.

It was on the other side of the Atlantic that Laura and Jérôme met Jean-Christophe Maillot, choreographer and director of Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, and former principal dancer Bernice Coppieters. After two fruitful collaborations, one for Romeo and Juliet, the other for Cinderella, the couple decided to return to France.

We were shocked that we could join the same company as husband and wife

The dream became reality

One audition later, the verdict was reached. Laura and Jérôme Tisserand were both accepted into the troupe. “We were very excited and so happy,” recalls Laura. “We were even shocked that we could join the same company as husband and wife, which is quite rare in the ballet world. We are very honoured to have been chosen”.

The stakes were therefore twofold and for Jérôme, it was unthinkable that one would leave without the other. For them, it was all or nothing: “It wouldn’t have worked, because we both dance and we still have a few years ahead of us. We didn’t want to say to each other that it was over for one and not for the other”.

This support and bond is something the two dancers share in life as well as on stage. “It’s a different life, quite unique, but it’s really great to have someone who understands our daily lives, what it’s like to have a good or bad show,” Jérôme confides with a smile. “Even if we won’t always dance together, when it happens we are so close that we can talk to each other, say things much more sincerely, with confidence”, adds Laura.

Even though they are together, Jérôme and Laura have not forgotten that they belong to a corps de ballet. In the space of just a few weeks, the couple feels perfectly integrated into the troupe. The two dancers consider themselves lucky to have been so well received by their fellow dancers, especially after such a radical life change. But beyond the welcome, they both particularly appreciate the work of the choreographer, Jean-Christophe Maillot.

Jean-Christophe and his ballets have a real sense of detail and character. It’s like acting in the theatre: the intention is what’s most important

Like performing in the theatre

For both dancers, what characterises the director of Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo is his sense of direction. According to Jérôme Tisserand, this unique approach to dance is a new challenge: “Jean-Christophe and his ballets have a real sense of detail and character. It’s like acting in the theatre: the intention is the most important element. You really become a character”.

And the next character Jérôme will play in Monaco will be Romeo Montague. A role which, under the direction of Jean-Christophe Maillot, embodies, according to the dancer, “hundreds of emotions: passionate love, sadness, confusion… It’s all new for us to throw ourselves into a character like that, to almost forget the steps, without really forgetting them”.

For her part, Laura will not be his Juliet, but Lady Capulet, the heroine’s mother: “I love this role”, confides the young woman. “It’s a mixture of several dynamics: she is strong, feminine, a little vulnerable… I love working on this role with Bernice, who played it in the past. She passes on so much to us!”

But before dancing Shakespeare’s tragedy on the Monegasque stage, the troupe will go on tour to Fréjus, to perform The Taming of the Shrew. The winter programme in the Principality has also just been unveiled. The first performances on the Rock will take place at the end of October, and the ticket office is already open.