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Paris Opera Ballet

Winter in Paris

by Grace Milandou

February 3 and March 26, 2013 -- Paris Opera House, Paris, France

February 3rd Palace Garnier

A masterpiece by Jirí Kylián, Kaguyahime entered the repertory of the Paris Opera Ballet Company in
2010. This February, it was performed in Garnier (smaller venue and smaller stage) with Alice Renavand, Agnès Letestu and Marie-Agnès Gillot alternating as the moon princess. The whole piece was magnified by a slightly more modern staging (by Michael Simon) and accompanied by a strong musical ensemble with contrasts between the soft and calm sound of the traditional flutes and the brutal sound of percussions.

On stage, ice-cold silver, dark forces, and a golden burning sun are at war for godly possessions and love conquests. With her cold beauty and detached interpretation, Alice Renavand embodied a perfect princess. Stranger in an earthly world, her heart could only be touched by the great sun emperor Mikado, here the subtle Hervé Moreau.

Before leaving in 2014, Brigitte Lefèvre, the director who’s led the company through the turn of the 21st century and introduced great modern choreographers to the repertory, could very well nominate this dancer who has shown how well she can wear a Golden Fleece.

Dancers and Choreographers Evening
February 26th Amphitheatre Bastille

The Dancers and Choreographers evening allows the dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet to show their work as choreographers. Unfortunately, our in-house choreographers tend to favour writing with other people’s words rather than developing their own idiom, resulting in an evening poor in discovery. As the next appointed director of the company, Benjamin Millepied plans to develop a choreographer workshop to help talents emerge from the company. This program was an occasion for us to see who these talents may be. We hope that a workshop will give them the tools and space to develop their own voice, step upleave their interpretive status mark and give way to their creativity.

The evening opened with Premier Cauchemar (First nightmare) by a Samuel Murez under a great Mats Ek influence. A clear and coherent piece but lacking development. The duet Deux à deux (two by two) by Maxime Thomas gave Laetizia Galloni an occasion to shine as a choice performer for modern dance. Lucie Fenwick illuminated the solo En attendant l’année dernière (waiting for last year) by Stéphane Jounot. We will not say much about Alister Madin’s colourless Kaleidoscope, just that he has been the only one to work with pointe shoes, but sadly with no research nor originality. Julien Meyzindi delivered a great Smoke alarm and secured the collaboration of two of greatest modern dancers in the company.

Songe des douaniers (A Guard’s dream) by Alexandre Carniato and Morgane Dragon was the most original piece of the evening. These two choreographers delivered beautiful choreographic research and have a genuine artistic voice that is promising for a premiere choreographic work.

The evening ended with Strategie de l’hippocampe (Strategy of the Hippocampus ), the first choreography of Simon Valastro, and in my opinion, the best piece of the evening. The atmosphere recalls Kylián’s Last touch first but considering that the piece toured very little outside Holland, we cannot assume that this dancer could have been familiar with it. In Last touch first, Kylián choreographed a slow motion silent theatre. The piece took place in a house, where the characters appear as being just out of a Chekov play. Valastro’s family seem to live in the same period (end of the nineteenth/beginning of the twentieth century), a model family. The silent play here is choreographed in ballet pantomime. The three-part piece ends with a strong solo, danced by Eve Grinsztrajn as a strong matriarch. An excellent piece and a choreographer to follow.

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