Growing up, Fanny Fiat’s parents frequently hosted parties at home. Most of the time, she and her brother Laurent would be in bed by the time guests arrived, but the preparations and the atmosphere preceding the party left a lasting impression.
Fanny knew her parents would be dancing all night, and dreamed of joining in…. She then became a dancer for the Opéra de Paris.
After leaving the institution, Fanny Fiat co-founded Elephant Paname, a beautiful 500m2 space dedicated to art and dance, located rue Volney, appropriately located a short walk from the Palais Garnier opera house.
I/O: How does one become a dancer for the Opera?
Fanny Fiat: The most important things are mental strength and hard work. As far as physique goes, it’s better to have some of the prerequisites, such as flexible hips and good endurance.
I/O: How did the idea for Elephant Paname come about?
FF: It’s a dream project co-created with my brother Laurent. He had been wanting to open a gallery for quite some time, and I had my heart set on opening a dance studio. After much discussion, we decided to merge our two projects.
I/O: Do you think Paris has attained some form of maturity, when it comes to sports?
FF: Not really, if I’m being totally honest. A lot has been done, but there is so much left to do. There are more and more gyms, CrossFit clubs, and running teams in every neighborhood of the capital, but I feel like Parisians have yet to adopt sports as a lifestyle in the true sense.
I/O: There are more and more beginner level classical dance classes. Do you think this stems from a movement to demystify classical dancing, and make it more accessible?
FF: Yes, it’s true. A lot of people see the world of classical dancing as a sort of bubble, very closed-off and hard to access. I think it’s possible to dance for fun, not just professionally. It’s all a question of accessibility and offer, for me: classical dancing has this image because there isn’t much being offered. By multiplying opportunities, I believe it is going to open up.
I/O: There are more and more hybrid forms of classes today. What are the new trends that are going to come to Paris?
FF: There are a lot of classes today aimed at reinforcing the link between mind and body, like working on cardio while focusing on the mind. I think that’s one of the reasons why our “Body Spirit” workshop was so successful: it combine various disciplines that focus on stretching and posture, such as pilates, yoga, and sophrology; proposing a more balanced approach to body and mind.
I/O: Workshops such as “Beyoncé Kids” (which also exists for adults: “Danser comme Beyoncé”) or Hip Hop Kids really seem to create complicity between kids and their parents. Is it because parents today have more fun with their kids?
FF: These days, children are really heard and listened to. Parents let them make a great deal of choosing, they let them follow their hearts and dreams. Our children’s workshop “Rêve de Ballerine” has had a lot of success, and I’m sure these kids’ mothers listen to Beyoncé.
I/O: Who makes up the community you’ve created?
FF: I like to think it reflects the people who make up our society. There’s men, women, young people, some less young, “warriors”, beginners, working girls, children, senior citizens...
I/O: Do you see yourself as a leader, or do you like being part of a group?
FF: Both. My leadership needs the energy of a group to function!
I/O: Who, or what has helped you get to where you are today?
FF: My hard work and perseverance, mostly. My training at the Opéra has taught me to never give up.
I/O: Who are the professors and experts you admire?
FF: Noëlla Pontois, prima ballerina at the Opéra de Paris. My master, who’s taught me to love dancing.
I/OI: Do you have a mantra, or motto?
FF: Without boldness, only the past would exist.
I/O: Do you ever give in to temptation, or step out of line?
FF: My life is a big split. (Editor’s note: Ma vie est un grand écart. A play on words using the splits that dancers do.) My whole life has been about that.
I/O: Give us three words to describe yourself:
FF: Feminine, romantic, Parisian.
I/O: And three words to describe Elephant Paname:
FF: I have only two: wild and free.
I/O: What are your projects for 2017?
FF: Getting back on stage with my best friend, Nicolas Noël.