dance center

Back in 1972, Roland Petit created the Ballets de Marseille. Having lost its -s, the Ballet has become a Centre Chorégraphique National in 1984 and is now run by Emio Greco and Pieter C. Scholten. The creation and dissemination of shows by the Ballet and guest artists are at the heart of what it does. Very much rooted in our time, curious about and open to the world, the BNM is also a prestigious part of Marseille’s cultural heritage, close to Parc Borély.



"Running, climbing, stamping, hurtling, pushing, spreading out to work, relaxing : stages proposed for the living journey through the École Nationale Supérieure de Danse de Marseille. Like a huge piece of working scenery, a gently climbing ramp leads to the building’s entrance and a raised inner courtyard open to the sky. Brought together, students and dancers enter the light-filled lobby which is extended by walkways. Two generously proportioned staircases on either side of the porch, featuring a simple straight stairway, divide the students and dancers and lead them towards the garden level. Here the School’s students step onto peripheral walkways, moving through their cloakrooms before reaching the studios opposite.

This is where the cloakrooms and dressing rooms for the Company’s dancers are located, in a wide curved envelope comprising the large studio’s apse. For them, movement extends towards the upper levels, where chill-out rooms, gentle ramps and paved terraces articulate and spread out into a labyrinth open to the sky.

The living, active journey – alternating through covered passageways and light-filled spaces – leads to the heart of the building. Here the soothing volumes and simple geometry of the School’s studios are bathed in a diffuse glow while the vast naves of the large studios are enclosed by high walls and filled with light. Outside, in a long travelling shot, the building reappears, solar, unfurling its heavily structured volumes and balanced by the stage wall built like a beacon. Movement, rhythm, harmony, forms: appropriate responses for this place dedicated to Dance."

Roland Simounet - architect


The building has a net gross floor area of 6,342 sqm and a useable area of 5,044 sqm, allowing the École Nationale Supérieure de Danse, to give it its full name, (1,913 sqm) and the Ballet National de Marseille (1,407 sqm) to be housed together. The remaining 1,724 sqm is taken up by shared reception areas, technical facilities, walkways and corridors. Built on three levels, the building comprises :

for the school
- seven 144 sqm studios, wooden-floored, air-conditioned and equipped with sound and video systems

for the company
- a 220 sqm rehearsal studio
- a large 380 sqm studio linked to the rehearsal studio by a large retractable wall, allowing these two large wooden-floored studios to be transformed into one large 600 sqm space as required
- a retractable 300-seat tier transforms the large studio into a performance venue
- a gym
- a massage room
The costume store on three levels has been built to hold 2,000 costumes on three metal structures, served by a lift.
A work by Gérard Traquandi – La Danse (a picture created from photos), 1995 – is exhibited on the first floor.

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© Alwin Poiana
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© Alwin Poiana
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© Alwin Poiana
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©Pascal Delcey