I met Sébastien when I first came to Ballett Basel. He was one of the first guest teachers I had at the company. We get a lot of guest, but I remember Sébastien, because he was always upbeat. He came to class everyday with a positive attitude and always had a few funny remarks during the barre. He showed every combination with lots energy and excitement. His corrections were infused with potsitivity. After the first few days, I thought to myself, How does this guy have all this energy?….. at this early in the morning? His energy filled the room. He lifted the company’s spirits up. I enjoyed his class a lot! It was challenging, he had good corrections and we were AWAKE!

After his last class in Basel, we were chatting in the hallway, and he said to me “Armando if you have any feedback about my class, don’t be afraid to share it with me.” No ballet teacher has ever said that to me before. Its true that rarely that I don’t like a class, but Sébastien’s was really a good one and that is what I told him. His upbeat energy and positiveness, does give him a leg up. Especially in this business. I think he is already on a good way. That conversation stayed with me. Its obvious that he loves what he does, and with that attitude and eagerness to learn, I think he will be just fine. Over the years Sébastien has come back again to teach the company and his class was even better. Watching him teach was very inspiring. I kept a smile the whole class…OK I did not smile during adagio.

Sébastien began his ballet training at the age of 16 in Toulouse, France. When he was 19 years old, Mrs. Nanette Glushak, Artistic Director of the Ballet du Capitole de Toulouse, offered him the chance to work and study alongside professional dancers. The following year, in 1996, Mr. Charles Jude, Artistic Director of the Opera National de Bordeaux hired Sébastien, which very quickly gave him the opportunity to dance as both a soloist as well as a semi-soloist. In 2001, Sébastien received the “Serge Lifar” prize for his performance in the ballet, “Suite en Blanc,” with the Opera National de Bordeaux. He was also regularly invited to perform with the group Charles Jude and Friends. In 2008, Artistic Director Mr. Gradimir Pankov invited Sébastien to join Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. The following year, he was offered a soloist contract with the Alberta Ballet. Sébastien ended his dancing career in June 2011 and is now focusing on his teaching and coaching career. In 2013, Mr. Riou joined The Rock School as full time faculty as a Ballet Master.

I love it when Interview En L’air can showcase artists like Sébastien… on his way to great things. Thank you,Sébastien, for your Inspiration.


When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did you always want to do what you’re doing now?

Well, as I began ballet quite late, I suppose as lots of kids, when I was little I am sure I wanted to become a cop, a cowboy, or an astronaut !! (I remember something about star wars 🙂 So, I was very far from what I am doing now… But I remember that as a dancer student, I, of course, wanted to be Baryshnikov!! As for now, towards the end of my career I was offered the opportunity to teach. That, I really wanted to do and I am very grateful.

Favorite Things to eat?

Oh my! I think it would be faster to say what I do not like! Suffice to say that I am french… and that I have a real taste for luxury things, no kidding!!! But if I have to pick, I would say: Duck confit (preferably magret confit), with homemade garlic potatoes, cook in the same duck fat, of course… I also love brie truffles and occasionally a very good glass of Sauternes, with a strong cigar…. Priceless!

Favorite Books?

I read a lot…. Tons of different things. When I was younger, I read a lot “Flowers of Evil” by Charles Beaudelaire…But I also like Victor Hugo very much. On a more daily basis, I am a big fan of “Fred Vargas”. She writes police thrillers.

Favorite Movies?

I am also a big movies fan, but “Love Story” from Arthur Hiller (1970) is from far the best. Terribly sad, but so touching….

Favorite Dance Piece or Show/Musical or both?

Definitively “Le Jeune Homme et la Mort” by Roland Petit. Everything is in this piece…

I like dancers who…

Funny enough, I love dancers who dance!!!Today, is the time of more pirouettes, kicks and tricks, and some dancers today are more concerned with the number of spins they will be able to do on stage, than by the ballet itself … Shame.

I am afraid of…

Losing my wife.

A dance piece should…

Bring emotions…I realize as I write this down, that it might appear as a very simple answer, but…. This is, I believe, all that matters.

Something you like to do other than your current job?

Well, I am very, very passionate about what I do now… In fact, it could be that I am more than happy to teach than that I have been dancing. So this is a tough question…. And the answer is: No idea !!

What is your most embarrassing moment?

It wasn’t really during my professional career, but this is something happened twenty years ago, that I still remember: My first manege of jetes en tournant… I never tried it before, and well, my turn came.I did three pathetic jetes, and finished in rolls between the legs of my Ballet Teacher… Delightful!(Thanks for the reminder Armando !!!)

One of the happiest moments in your life?

The day I married my beautiful, amazing, wonderful wife…

One of the hardest things about your job?

Well, once again, I do truly love what I do. And I do realize how lucky I am… Going all around the world to teach the best dancers of today. But paradoxically, this is the hardest thing in my job: I spend a lot of time away from my family.

One of your most unusual or coolest experiences?

The first company class I have been teaching. A moment I will never forget…

Who has been the most influential person/people in your life? or Career? and why?

Noellie Conjeaud my wife. Because she is the first, and perhaps the only one who saw what I was capable of, and who knew how to convince me of it. I owe her a lot…she influenced what I am, and what I am doing today….

Something you would change in the DANCE world?

May be not changing, just advising, and mostly to the young generation: What Ballet is about? Touching people’s heart…In fact, touching your own heart while you are dancing. Ballet is NOT about technical performance at all cost… Not at the expense of expression, beauty, and cleanliness of execution…Ballet is about giving emotion.Remember that…

Something you would change in the REAL world?

Sadly there is too much to say…Just an advice perhaps: Stay aware … Open to everyone.

Do you have any goals you still wish to achieve?

Becoming one of the most famous teachers of all time!!!!

Dear aspiring artists,

Work hard… Work, work, work hard… BUT, remember to enjoy it !

–Sebastien Riou



Marriage Seb & Noellie






Rock School 2




Troy Game 1


Rock School 1


Have you worked with Sébastien? Have you taken his class? Help me say thank you by sharing your stories in the comments below.

Thank YOU for reading!