Altars, steps, steps: the steps play a central role in the narrative of power. By elevating, they naturalize and legitimize the fiction of a higher order to which only a select few deserve access. Those of the Palais des festivals, which each year lead to a form of consecration, just like those of the Césars, the Oscars or the Elysée, thus take up a motif as old as it is tasty.

Under the Empire, there were, let us remember, the steps immortalized by the painter Jacques-Louis David, at the foot of which, kneeling on a small square cushion of purple velvet, he represented the Empress Josephine. In the center of an arch-famous canvas the size of a small F3 (60 square meters), we see her head bowed, hands joined, receiving the crown from the hands of her husband Napoleon.

But the spectator knows that the key element of the scene resides in the small cushion left empty right next to her. A few moments earlier, Bonaparte got up to climb the few steps of the altar of Notre-Dame de Paris to consent to receive a crown only from himself. The Pope and the dignitaries of the Church discovered, helplessly, a very personal vision of meritocracy.

Already in the Grand Siècle, in his snoring palace of Versailles, the Sun King, all in pomp, feathers and gold threads, had used the Ambassadors’ staircase, which leads from the reception areas to his apartments, to humiliate before the court the Grand Condé, his lame cousin and great rival.

A good descent

After having lost (or left, if one sees in it a beautiful failed act) her slipper on the stairs which she was hurtling down four by four before midnight struck, it is also at the foot of the stairs that the outcome of the most famous fairy tale takes place, and Cinderella goes from slut to princess by the grace of a shoe size at her foot.

While some dream of a destiny high up, out of the ordinary, and therefore upward, others have learned that the steps can also be descended with panache, as in cabarets for example. There, creatures all in legs and high heels, coming from a mysterious Eden, approach their beauty to an amazed public before fainting behind a crimson velvet curtain.

Impregnated with these images like so many stories with which to compose at the time of online step classes and the Cannes Film Festival, to worry about the pace that one will have and the impression that one will leave on the Approaching a staircase therefore seems very natural. And all the more so since, delicate passage requires, the most important thing is to learn to keep smiling, and your dignity, if, by chance, you should fall.

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