The Argentine artist of the Paris Opera, Liudmila Pagliero, made her début as Paquita on Friday November 5th 2010.
Sensational is too weak a word.
Powers of Imagination - projected into the early part of the 19th Century - not a single jarring thought, gesture or expression from this Age of Newspeak.
Secondly, the quality of her dancing. Faced with the terrifying physical frailty of the current ballerina crop, one is, as a rule, white-knuckling the arm-rests, dreading Accident. With Pagliero, one can dig one's nails OUT of the upholstery!
Thirdly, stagecraft. Pagliero is on stage for YOU. Not watching (admiring?) herself, or staring at her own feet (feet are the Big Thing, at Paris), in the hope that you may notice how highly-arched they are, or whatever. She throws herself into the role, and stays there, in that time and that place throughout, whether dancing, or miming, or skipping about the stage, or simply standing still.
Fourthly, grace. Like Ould-Braham, every movement of Pagliero’s on stage is lifted and carried by grace.
The ballet dancer’s job is to being more beauty into the world, not to be, himself, beautiful – no matter that ridiculous statement from the late Michel Renault (“le danseur se doit d’être beau”). Here we have a mousey little woman, of utterly non-descript appearance, who puts in the work it takes to create beauty.
Apart from the Ivanov “Greek Chorus” ensemble scenes, Swan Lake is an intensely boring ballet, but one can safely assume that on her December 10th début, Mlle Pagliero will make it Not-Boring.
It is very hard for a foreigner - especially a woman- to be accepted at the highest levels of this theatre. So Mlle Pagliero has come up the very, very hard way. It has been worth the wait.
Unfortunately, Nestor Kirschner is no longer with us to celebrate, but nevertheless, let us exclaim:
Long live Argentina !