For over a century, the Faillard family has shared and transmitted their love for Aix-en-Provence from one generation to the next. Charlotte Faillard is passionate: she has a deep love for her city and Provence, which is why she defends her history and heritage on a daily basis. As a professional dancer, she lives her art as an itinerant way towards well-being and self-love. It is in her family’s bastide (a traditional country house in the south of France) that opened her own Gyrotonic studio, which includes methods of gentle circular movement to improve physical and mental condition. Having found the perfect balance between tradition and modernity, she is sharing with us some of her best-kept family secrets.
You are a professional dancer and you have opened your own studio within your family’s bastide. How has this home impacted your art?
I created a Gyrotonic studio in our family bastide because it is a place filled with history dating all the way back to the 18th century. My sibling and I are the 7th generation to live here. Although the bastide is located in the city center of Aix-en-Provence the moment we enter our home we feel as though we are in the countryside. There is a huge garden with old trees that provide shade for us all summer; it truly is an enjoyable place to work. We are in touch with the environment and the methods I teach focus on restoring oneself and one’s well-being. The family bastide is in complete balance with my art.
Can we then say that art is a part of your family’s story?
Yes, it is a truly a part of my family story. My mother is a painter; she has been quite recognized in Japan and in other parts of the world. She is a Provençal artist who paints using the knife technique. Our parents brought us up with an artistic dimension. They were constantly traveling but always took us with them. Since we were little, my siblings and I have always given in to our artistic side. Even at a young age we were extremely imaginative and performed shows at any occasion.
Tell us about your attachment to Aix-en-Provence…
Aix-en-Provence is a beautiful city that inspires me; it is here where my roots are. I love its natural perfume, colors, its atmosphere and particularly its luminosity. These past few years Aix has changed a lot, it has modernized. With my family we fight to preserve the historic side of our city and its traditions. We must never forget our roots. Aix is my home and I need to be near my family. I’ve positioned myself as ambassador of this city. I can’t help it; I am drawn to the city.
What is your favorite smell of Provence and why?
Lavender without hesitation! It embodies my childhood. My grandmother had lavender plants. We always waited until the end of the summer for them to dry and put them in little sachet bags. I have the memories of preparing the bags, handling the small grains of dry lavender, spending time with my grandmother, sewing the little bags and putting it all together so I could carry these wonderful memories home with me.
We also know you under the name “French Ballerina,” what does this name mean to you?
I think this is the first time I’ve been asked this question. I started dancing quite late, at 11 years old. I was fortunate enough to have the body with the ability to learn easily. I then left for the United States and spent a year in Portland Oregon; at the time everyone called me “French Ballerina.” When I had to find myself an Instagram name I thought of this name because it fits me perfectly.
You qualify dance as both a modern and traditional form of art. How did you find that balance?
Finding your balance is having the ability and power to let go. For me, dance is a marriage between tradition and modernity. I think that each art needs structure and foundation just like a house. These foundations are carried out the same from generation to generation. The trick is to simply adapt the foundation to your daily life, to make sure it works with joy, peace, serenity and love. As a dancer I suffered because of the physical pain I endured as I pushed my body beyond its limits. I learned that we can prepare our bodies and increase our abilities by pushing our physical and mental limits. Our limits are our fears and if we push them we will advance more in life. I am able to fine my balance today because of this. That is my vision for dance and I feel that it is my duty to change this inadaptable image of dance. I want to make the idea of classical dance accessible for anyone who wants to practice this form of art. To realize one’s dream is to respect oneself and have self-love. French Ballerina is a reminder to always follow your dreams.
0utside of dancing, do you have a daily routine of self-care that you would like to share with us?
I am a very spiritual person. Meditation is something I do almost every day. It helps me calm down and recharge my batteries.
As a dancer you must feel in total harmony with your body. Do you have a beauty secret you would like to share with us?
Yes, I have many. Every morning I drink lemon water and I eat an avocado. I also love dry brushing, this is great for your skin and circulation. Also, each night I take the time to apply body cream. The quality of the products I use is very important to me.
Finally, what is your favorite Bastide product and why?
I really like the Figue d’Été hand cream. I am completely seduced by its texture and fragrance!
Interview By Marine Astor