The French star dancer Patrick Dupond, who is also revered beyond the exclusive world of ballet, died on March 5th.
At the age of 61 he succumbed to a "devastating disease", so it is said from his environment.
“Patrick Dupond set off this morning to dance with the stars,” said his colleague and partner Leïla Da Rocha.
As talented, but suffering from indiscipline, drug addiction and the struggle with (homo-) sexuality among his demons, this once grandiose dancer has always clung to the stage despite his career that has been broken off several times.
"I never lived to please, seduce, entertain, enchant", he confided in the newspaper "Liberation" in 2000.
Patrick Dupond was born in Paris on March 14, 1959.
His father had left the family early, his mother tried to channel the energy of her charismatic but difficult son by signing him up for soccer and judo.
But he found his way in classical dance.
Max Bozzoni, former dancer at the Paris Opera and ballet teacher, took him under his wing.
He became his "teacher for life" until his stage farewell in 2003.
In 1970 Patrick Dupond joined the Paris Opera Dance School.
The young man, who tired his teachers with his impetuous energy, nevertheless climbed all levels of the institution, which is divided into many career levels.
At the age of 16 he joined the company.
A year later he took part in the prestigious competition in Varna all by himself.
There he was the first French to win the gold medal.
In 1980, at the age of 21, he was appointed Étoile.
A year later it shines as a sparkling diamond in the rough in the movie "She dances alone".
In Robert Dornhelm's semi-documentary essay about Vaslav Nijinsky's daughter Kyra, he embodied her father in beautiful visions.
Patrick Dupond in 1992 in "Swan Lake" at the Paris Opera
Source: AFP via Getty Images
His glamorous appearance as a young soloist, his technical talent and his acting qualities inspired and seduced the greatest choreographers: John Neumeier, Roland Petit, Alvin Ailey and Maurice Béjart created for him.
The latter offered him a wonderful appearance in 1986 in "Salomé", where Dupond was disguised as a moody prima ballerina.
His extravagant, spontaneous and generous personality made Patrick Dupond a real dance star.
He was also loved and admired outside the narrow circle of ballet lovers in France, and during his trips abroad, especially in the USA and Japan, he cast a spell over the masses.
Two years of morphine
At the age of only 31, Patrick Dupond took over the direction of the Paris Opera Ballet from Rudolf Nureyev after his first position in Nancy.
1990-95 he worked there as director and at the same time as the first dancer, after which he stayed for another two years as Étoile.
In 1997 he was dismissed because of a disagreement with the new opera management due to "disobedience and indiscipline": the dancer had agreed to sit on the jury of the Cannes Film Festival without the consent of his employer.
Afterwards they made up again, but the injuries were deep.
This episode finally ended abruptly thirty years of life in the Palais Garnier and left the fallen star in a dark phase plagued by doubt and loneliness.
In 2000 he was also the victim of a serious car accident.
His body suffered 134 fractures and the doctors told him that he would no longer dance.
He lived on high morphine for two years - it took another year to detox - but he recovered thanks to daily exercise with his mentor Max Bozzoni.
A few months after the accident, Patrick Dupond was back on stage in the musical "Un air de Paris".
After trying his hand at the cinema again (“Dancing Machine” with Alain Delon) and even dancing with horses, he last worked on reality TV and became a juror on the show “Dance with the Stars” in 2018.
Parody and lies
He, who was constantly oscillating between “everything very positive and everything very negative”, was hit by another severe blow in 2007 when his house in Dreux was destroyed by fire.
In recent years he had settled in Soissons (Aisne), where he worked at the school of his life partner Leïla Da Rocha, with whom he put on shows that combined classical and oriental dance.
Patriuck Dupond in Later Years (2004)
Source: Getty Images
Patrick Dupond last made headlines in 2017 when he mentioned his previous love stories with men in an interview for “Paris Match”.
He called his "former" homosexuality a "mistake", which aroused the anger of many readers and activists.
It was only with Leïla Da Rocha that he “discovered love”.
Everything before that was “a parody and a lie”.
As an ever electrified, internationally sought-after dancer, “I was happy to lie to myself”.
Tormented by loneliness, despite the “seventeen thousand people cheering you on on stage”, he would have “no one to share this moment with”.
One thing was this seductive and self-destructive Patrick Dupond, who never really knew how to float in his best dance moments: a conformist.