Patrick Dupond, French Ballet Virtuoso, Dies at 61

Patrick Dupond, French Ballet Virtuoso, Dies at 61

Patrick Dupond, French Ballet Virtuoso, Dies at 61

Patrick Dupond, French Ballet Virtuoso, Dies at 61

At 16, Mr. Dupond was accepted into the Paris Opera Ballet, and Mr. Bozzoni suggested he enter the Varna competition. After winning the gold medal, he steadily ascended the Paris Opera ranks — although his virtuosic technique and crowd-pleasing style weren’t to everyone’s taste.

“Of course, you don’t want to extinguish the fire or facility or the enthusiasm,” Violette Verdy, then the director of the Paris Opera Ballet, said in an interview with The Times in 1977. “But you also have to knock him on the head and explain to him that what he sometimes does is in such poor taste that it belongs more to the Moulin Rouge than to the Paris Opera.”

“It’s because I like him so much,” Ms. Verdy added, “that I am especially hard on him.”

Mr. Dupond’s star quality and charisma kept him a favorite of audiences even after he left the Opera in 1997. In 2000, a serious car accident left him with 134 fractures, constant pain and an addiction to morphine that took him a year to overcome. But he returned to the studio, working with Mr. Bozzoni to regain his strength. Less than a year after the accident, he appeared onstage in a musical, “Un Air de Paris.”

In 2004 he met Leila Da Rocha, a former professional basketball player who had retrained as a dancer and choreographer. Although Mr. Dupond had always been open about his homosexuality, notably in an autobiography, “Étoile” (2000), he described their encounter as love at first sight.

Ms. Da Rocha encouraged him to appear on several reality television shows, including, most recently, as a jury member on the French edition of “Dancing With the Stars,” and together they taught and staged works at her dance school in Soissons.

In addition to Ms. Da Rocha, Mr. Dupond is survived by his mother.

In a 2000 interview with the newspaper Libération, Mr. Dupond set forth his credo as an artist: “To please, seduce, divert, enchant; I feel that I have only ever lived for this.”


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