The students of the Paris Opera Ballet School are sometimes called les petits rats (little rats). The best among them go on to become professional dancers in the Paris Opera Ballet company.
The Paris Opera Ballet School was established in 1713 under the reign of Louis XIV, who loved the art form. The school exists today as the oldest ballet school and is where classical ballet technique and terminology was standardized.
Until 1987, the ballet students trained at the Palais Garnier, the opulent opera house in Paris. Now, the students train in a modern, state-of-the-art location in Nanterre outside Paris, which houses dance studios, classrooms and dorm rooms.
The school encompasses the whole world of the ballet students, from academic instruction to dance classes of every stripe - character dance, contemporary, pas de deux and dance history. There are even dorm rooms and boarding areas where many of the children live, eat and sleep.
Each school year culminates in bi-annual performances presented at the Palais Garnier. The students also occasionally have the opportunity to perform with the ballet company in certain productions.
The ballet school holds its demonstration in December and performance in April at the Palais Garnier.
See also: Paris Opera Schedule of Performances