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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 5:58 am 
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I've a ticket for Friday, will report back.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2005 11:53 am 
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Caligula
Paris Opera Ballet
Opera Garnier
4th November 2005


After having watched in horrified disbelief the latest BBC drama series “Rome”, an hour of sickeningly gratuitous violence along with graphic sex and nudity, I approached a new ballet called “Caligula” with some trepidation. I needn’t have worried though as compared with what I had watched a couple of days before; this was a work of tastefulness and restraint.

Nicholas Le Riche has turned to Suetonius, an author who pulls no punches, as his source for a ballet about the life of Caligula, and it is to M. Le Riche’s credit that he has not chosen to portray the more lurid episodes of the life of this Roman emperor who was the most dissolute and debauched of the entire Julii clan. Instead Le Riche concentrates on the effects of early celebrity and mental illness, describing Caligula in the programme notes as “A tortured soul”. A more sympathetic view of this subject than most would take.

This is Le Riche’s first major work for the company and is a full evening ballet of around ninety minutes given without an interval. It consists of five acts danced to Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” punctuated by electronic interludes. I was surprised at the choice of music, so beloved of every call-centre from London to Bombay, but perhaps this admittedly rather beautiful music isn’t considered a cliché in France. It proves quite a contrast to what is depicted on stage, but then Monteverdi’s “Coronation of Poppea” is a work of genuis despite being concerned with the love life of another depraved pair of Romans.

The set is simply a colonnade on each side of the stage with red tinged columns (looking more Minoan than Roman) topped off with what appears to be an iron girder and above the width of the stage there is a video screen. The named characters, with the exception of Caligula himself, make their entrances mostly in blocks of dancers, for example the senator Chaerea (Jean-Chrisrophe Guerri), a leading character, is indistinguishable from the other senators that include a couple of girls dressed as chaps. Similarly the group described as “the following” includes Sidonia, the mistress and eventually wife of Caligula, this group is predominantly female with a couple of men in drag. Sidonia was danced by one of POB’s finest – Miteki Kudo, but she gets precious little to do other than wear a very glamorous costume, the like of which I suspect was never seen in ancient Rome.

Caligula makes an impressive entrance when the backdrop partially rises to reveal a vast staircase down which he descends. The very young, recently appointed etoile Mathieu Ganio takes the title role, but makes a very low-key emperor indeed. Although he isn’t first cast, I felt an older more experienced dancer might have been more appropriate in the role. Other featured roles include that of an enigmatic moon (symbol of lunacy?) danced on pointe by Muriel Zusperreguy and a scene stealing performance from Laurent Hilaire as the famous mime, Mnester.

Le Riche’s choreography seemed to show the influences of both Neumeier and Kylian, the pauses and moments of stillness in certain passages put me very much in mind of Kylian. But clearly Le Riche is searching for a voice of his own and the short scene of Caligula with his horse Incitatus was both moving and tender with Caligula feeding the animal from his hand. And the sight of a man (Stephane Phavorin), depicting a horse with a bit and bridle in his mouth, which could so easily have appeared ridiculous was instead a passage of honesty and originality. M. Le Riche has chosen a difficult subject and has taken an unusually charitable view of one of history’s monsters but in doing so has shown a boldness of purpose coupled with a choreographic talent that will hopefully develop into a more distinctive voice in the future.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 12, 2005 7:28 am 
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Quote:
Nicolas Le Riche
by LOUISE LEVENE for the Daily Telegraph

The steps are essentially a cut-and-paste of the male principal's repertoire, packed with virtuosic clichés bearing little relation to his subject or his chosen score (Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Why?).

published: November 13, 2005
more...


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2005 10:15 am 
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Joyaux (Jewels)
Paris Opera Ballet
Opera Garnier
5th November 2005


In the past my experiences of seeing the Paris Opera Ballet dance Balanchine have been mixed, some of his ballets they appear to take to like ducks to water whereas others seem to leave them floundering. Happily my latest trip to see them in a Balanchine work, “Jewels” turned out to be my most impressive outing to see them in a one of his works so far. With sets and costumes by top Paris couturier Christian Lacroix, this was a visually superior version to what I had seen before and the dancing, from start to finish had a lavish quality that matched the lustre of sets and costumes.

I make no excuses for saying that my favourite section of Jewels is Emeralds as I find that the slightly whimsical qualities of Faure’s music perfectly match the romantic mood that floods the stage. Balanchine had in mind both the French school of dancing and the French capital city itself when he created Emeralds and on this occasion the POB presented a cast so close to perfection that I once again marvelled at the resources of this company with such a wealth of outstanding dancers. The two pas de deux couples were Laetitia Pujol and Mathieu Ganio and Clairemarie Osta and Kader Belarbi. Two beautifully matched classically pure ballerinas paired with two lovingly attentive (and very handsome) cavaliers. The pas de trois was danced by Eleonora Abbagnato, Nolwenn Daniel and the incomparable Emmanuel Thibault, I really agonized over which weekend to visit Paris as M. Thibault was dancing in both Emeralds and Rubies; on the one hand he would be on stage for longer if I chose Rubies but Emeralds has the more attractive choreography. I can only say that I didn’t regret my choice.

Unusually “Emeralds” and “Rubies” were run together with only a short pause rather than an interval, clearly the administration of the Garnier is less reliant on pushing overpriced sarnies in the interval than Covent Garden is. Again a first rate cast with Aurelie Dupont and Marie-Agnes Gillot taking on the female leads and the versatile Alessio Carbone, a dancer I’ve admired a lot in modern roles, as the leading male. I rather liked the costumes that have been criticized elsewhere here, but perhaps the girls’ strapless numbers really require ladies with a little more bosom than that of the average dancer to do them justice. A word about Gillot’s performance, she was in a class of her own: some dancers can make this section appear rather vulgar but Gillot brought something special to the role. She is a very striking looking woman too; extremely tall and statuesque, she has the most unusual colouring, almost like white marble and unlike some of the others she looked magnificent in her Lacroix costume. She is a versatile dancer too, as the last time I saw her was in Ek’s Giselle. Quite a performer.

“Diamonds” had a last minute change of cast when Jean-Guillaume Bart replaced Jose Martinez, but one would never have guessed it as his partnering of Agnes Letestu appeared flawless, both tall dancers, they looked a dream together in this Petipa inspired showpiece and were backed up by a corps de ballet that caught every nuance of the Russian flavoured choreography. Dancing beneath Lacroix’s glittering swathe of diamonds they had their fingers on the very pulse of this work; over a great many years I’ve seen some outstanding performances of what is one of my favourite ballets, but this was so finely tuned, so perfectly balanced that I was left with a feeling of total awe towards this magnificent company. The cameras were in that night too, so when the DVD comes out I’ll be joining a stampede to be first in the queue.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2005 2:22 pm 
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My goodness Cassandra, you saw a dreamcast. I'm swooning just by reading about it.

Quote:
With sets and costumes by top Paris couturier Christian Lacroix


Lacroix! Wow! Are there photographs of this production anywhere?


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 Post subject: Prix de l'AROP 2005: Ould Braham and Magnenet
PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2005 3:49 pm 
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This evening, the twenty-two year old Myriam Ould Braham was awarded the Prix de l'Assocation pour le Rayonnement de l'Opéra de Paris (Prix de l'AROP). This is one of the two major French awards, the other being the Prix du Cercle Carpeaux.

In September 2005, along with a partner with whom her vision of the dance would appear to be in especial accord, viz., M. Emmanuel Thibault, the lady was awarded the Leonid Massine Prize at Positano in Italy.

For those lucky enough to see the lady's début as Aurora last December, one can but applaud this decision by the Great and Good of the art world

The other recipient of the Prix de l'AROP was M. Florian Magnenet, who is 23. Not being sufficiently acquainted with the gentleman's work in a soloist capacity, this writer awaits future occasions to appreciate his talents more fully.

In all events, the reader will need to consult other sources for a proper account of the ceremony (perhaps www.dansomanie.com?), as the writer of these lines did not attend.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2005 6:01 am 
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DavidH, The French web site Dansomanie http://www.dansomanie.net/ has a very lavish collection of pictures from ths production including some of the cast I saw.

Click first on FORUM in the left hand column, then on TOUT SUR LA DANSE, scroll down the page to 'Joyaux (Balanchine) octobre-novembre 2005' and you will find pictures on almost every page.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2005 6:47 pm 
Thank you Cassandra. I loved all of the photos in that thread. I think Lacroix did a wonderful design for all three movements. The flouncy, fluffy skirts in Rubies aren't what we're used to in the US, but they do remind me alot of Karinska's designs in general for Balanchine. After all it is theatre. I'll bet they look beautiful under the stage lighting.

Too bad the POB dancers aren't better looking! :lol: Wow!


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2005 2:00 am 
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some more pictures of Joyaux and the "Défilé du corps de ballet" here:
http://forum.agoradanse.net/index.php?s=169f26703c91a84d013c7a3b45c557cb&act=ST&f=1&t=176&st=0[/url]


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2005 10:56 am 
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Here are the results of this years Concourse at POB.

Premières danseuses:
Myriam Ould-Braham
Dorothée Gilbert

Sujets:
Laura Hecquet
Mathilde Froustey
Alice Renavand
Eve Grinsztajn

Coryphées:
Christelle Granier
Laurène Lévy
Charlotte Ranson
Céline Palacio

I rather expected Gilbert, who I have already seen in a leading role, would be promoted and Ms Ould-Braham is a remarkable dancer who always catches the eye,

Congratulations to all the above ladies.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2005 12:07 pm 
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Gosh! No men?


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 22, 2005 12:37 pm 
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Their competition will be held tomorrow, Stuart.


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 Post subject: La Bayadere
PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2006 11:28 am 
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Yesterday's Observer carried an interesting review of the POB's La Bayadere:

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,1733996,00.html


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 26, 2006 4:08 pm 
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Quote:
Anything you can do ...
by LUKE JENNINGS for the Observer

So it was last week when Aurélie Dupont danced Nikiya against Dorothée Gilbert's Gamzatti. Dupont is 33, a ballerina whose refined beauty and star status places her among Paris's Olympians. Fashion designers court her; film-makers rhapsodise over her eloquent bone structure. Gilbert, from Toulouse, is 10 years younger than Dupont, and hungry. She joined the corps de ballet in 2000, and since then has rocketed through the ranks: from quadrille to coryphée to sujet to première danseuse. Unlike Dupont, however, she has yet to join the elite inner circle of ballerinas, no more than six strong, who have been accorded the rank of étoile

published: March 19, 2006
more...


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 26, 2006 4:09 pm 
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I've combined two Paris Opera Ballet topics, here:

Guest Posted: 22 Mar 2006 03:46 pm

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Why do they call this a NEW production. What's new about it.
I think the old was GREAT!

***************************************


KANTER Posted: 24 Mar 2006 12:30 pm Post subject: A brief breach in the Boycott

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Owing to the presence of Carlos Acosta in the fair city of Paris, the author of these lines decided to interrupt, though briefly, a boycott of this run of La Bayadère.

Boredom being a powerful force, etc.

To make a long story short, I'm not too certain whether Acosta may have been on cloud nine to find himself dancing, at the top of his rather considerable form, alongside a Nikiya (Aurélie Dupont), who over the last decade has, so far as I can see, danced but a single role - that of Aurélie Dupont - and a Gamzatti (Eleonora Abbagnato), who is onto her fifth or sixth attempt in the role, and cannot in any way get through the choreography.

While our ballet masters here refuse, for reasons that I cannot fathom, either to alter the steps to suit Abbagnato, or let her dance something else, and have people who are extremely competent - like Fanny Fiat for example, dance Gamzatti.

And why Ould Braham is not dancing Nikiya is one of life's little mysteries, eh?

Anyway, the production is really winding down, and is starting to look pretty dire.

No attention is being paid to the corps de ballet's mime. Solor's friends loiter about the stage, chit-chatting and comfortably slumped, as though they were lounging at a pool-side party. The exception being, as usual, Simon Valastro...

In fact, now that I think about it, Audric Bézard may be about to replace Mallory Gaudion as my bugabear (had to stop hammering on Gaudion, terrible actor as he is, because at the end of the day, he is just too good a dancer...). Every time I see Bézard go down onto the stage, clueless, shoulders slumped forward, making cocktail party gestures, I feel I am about to have what Groucho Marx called

A STRANGE INTERLUDE

The ensembles look dreadfully ragged, and to say that the corps de ballet seems to be letting out all the stops, and taking the mickey out of Minkus (god, what an awful score) along the lines of The Pharaoh's Daughter, would be a gross overstatement. Everyone looks either a/ exhausted or b/ worried that someone is about to punish them for Making a Mistake.

La Bayadère is a three-ring extravaganza, so why can't we let our hair down and do a Nutter?

Talk about joy in dancing...

Well, Acosta did his bit. Very good dancer, although I can't say I'm taken with his naturalistic mime. Fanny Fiat and Thibault were absolutely extraordinary in the 3.17 seconds allotted each of them on stage, but one of the things I've learnt in ten years here, is that one should avoid being too good a dancer, lest one be punished with Bit Parts. I mean really, who could be so stupid as to actually ENJOY classical dancing, eh? Must be something awfully wrong with those two.


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