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Paris Opéra Ballet
Soirées Jeunes Danseurs

Pas de quatre by Jules Perrot
La Sylphide - pas de trois, 1st Act - by Pierre Lacotte
Le Lac des cygnes - pas de deux, 2nd Act - by Rudolf Nureyev
Carnaval de Venise by Petipa
Le Diable à quatre by Jean-Guillaume Bart
Roméo et Juliette - balcony pas de deux - by Rudolf Nureyev
Réversibilité by Michel Kelemenis
Aunis by Jacques Garnier

Palais Garnier, Paris, France
June 7, 2001

By Catherine Schemm



Tonight was the first performance of the 2001 Paris Opera Ballet's Evening of Young Dancers. This performance was based on the romantic, rather than the academic ballets. Only two works were in the modern vein: a pas de trois from Reversibilité by Kelemenis, and Aunis by Jacques Garnier.

A group of twenty-five dancers performed. The youngest was seventeen, the oldest was twenty-seven. Although twenty-seven is relatively young, should someone of that age be referred to as a Young Dancer? This term is almost a gift to debutants and the up-and-coming. Additionally, it was very unusual to see three surnumeraires*, who may never enter the company, perform in this program.

The first ballet was Pas de quatre by Perrot, revised by Dolin, and restaged by Ghislaine Thesmar. Although she had imparted the required style to the four dancers, they did not express the charm of this ballet. They are too young and not developed enough to demonstrate the brightness of this choreography. Only Myriam Ould Braham seems to have something more to give. She expressed lyricism and poetry in her dancing, demonstrating the lightest touch in the Fanny Cerrito variation. Miho Fujii was interesting too, especially in the petite batterie. Comparatively, Christine Peltzer, despite her best effort, did not have Taglioni's spirit. She has yet to find the glamour and imperious presence required for this role. Peggy Dursort as Carlotta Grisi was very academic in her dancing. The coda, in which they appear onstage all together, was really well danced, but I think this ballet is not very well suited to less mature dancers.

A pas de trios followed called Pas de l'ombre from La Sylphide by Taglioni, revised by Lacotte, and rehearsed by Elisabeth Platel. Juliette Gernez, a new coryphée, is miscast as the Sylphide. She doesn't have the right approach; she has a beautiful arabesque but it's too high to be considered romantic, it's really a neoclassical arabesque. I found the position of her torso stiff and incorrect. She lacked the Sylphide's coquetry, she was too haughty, and in the adage she was a pale imitation of Elisabeth Platel, she simply didn't capture the same essence. Moreover, her technique was not very remarkable in spite of her pirouettes and petite batterie. Next to her, Julien Meyzindi as James was the perfect "tourneur," as he also was with Dorothée Gilbert (Effie). His big jumps leave something to be desired though; his back leg is never at the same level as the front. But I really felt his struggle to choose between Effie and the Sylphide. The pearl was Dorothée Gilbert, who was unlucky at the last internal competition where she could have been promoted. She endowed her character with moments of radiance, delight, anguish, and passion. She has completely understood the style and technique of this ballet and she is certainly a name to remember.

From Swan Lake, the White Swan Pas de Deux by Ivanov, was danced by two new coryphées. Aurore Cordellier had the same problem as the dancers in Pas de quatre did, she is too young to be the character; she doesn't have the necessary maturity. She executed the steps but there was little feeling, it was as if she suffered from stage fright. Next to her Stéphane Bullion is a noble Siegfried, and a perfect partner, it was sad to only see him occupy a partnering role.

Finishing off the first part of the program was the difficult Balcony Pas de Deux from Nureyev's version of Romeo and Juliet. Nicolas Paul was a good Romeo alone, he has brilliant technique but the couple he formed with Myriam Kamionka, as Juliet, didn't work. It was as if they were each dancing alone. They didn't demonstrate a couple in love, this is supposed to be a passionate pas de deux, but there was none of that on stage.

This first part of the program was full of miscasts, either the dancers were too young for the roles they performed and didn't demonstrate the required technical style, or they didn't seem to comprehend the depth of the roles artistically, as demonstrated by Gernez.

The second part of the program opened with the Paris Opera Ballet creation: Diable à quatre, choreographed by Jean-Guilaume Bart. This male star of the POB has produced a ballet that is a tribute to Balanchine or Robbins, as his principal inspiration, but is also an homage to the romantic, academic ballet of Bournonville or Petipa-without forgetting the reference to Balanchine. The music by Adam reminded me of Delvedez' score for Paquita. Bart has created a brilliant pas de six and pas de deux, pas de trois, and variations for men and women. The pas de six began in the style of Napoli, the first female in the variation, danced with character and charm by Nathalie Vandard, looks like Giselle in spirit and uses the diagonal to the same effect. After this variation, there was a pas de trois, for a man and two women, which was made to show off the brightness of petite batterie. In this pas de trois, Ninon Raux, a new quadrille, is absolutely charming and Pascal Aubin was terrific at the end with succession of brisés-volés and pirouettes. Severine Westermann danced the third variation that mixed the Bournonville style of a girl with her skirt held by the hands with a Balanchine-esque inspiration in the arms and torso movement. Aurelia Bellet was also wonderful in her last variation. The Coda was bright and regrouped all of the dancers. They seemed to be happy to dance this short piece. And for the first time that evening I saw Dance with a big D.

After that joyful piece, Carnaval de Venise by Petipa was next on the Paris Opera Ballet program. Lise-Marie Jourdain and Jean-Sébastien Colau could not have danced this pas de deux more brilliantly. They performed this piece in the Paris competition and also at Varna. They won 2nd prize as partners in Paris and the 3rd prize for the male solo in Varna. Certainly they were chosen to dance with one another this particular evening because they are perfect together and have captured the spirit of this pas de deux. Lise-Marie Jourdain demonstrated the allure of the piece, and was technically skilled, but she didn't legs were not very raised in the variation which is a little sad upon recalling dancers such as Fallou or Dupont performing the same piece. And Jean Sebastien Colau had some problems with his feet, but they completely understood the style. Thanks must go to Ghislaine Thesmar who remounted this variation, also referred to as the Satanilla pas de deux, as well as the Pas de quatre.

Carnaval de Venise was the last classical work of the evening to be accompanied by the Orchestra Colonne, directed by David Coleman, who was not at his best.

Elisabeth Maurin, Kader Belarbi and Wilfried Romoli danced Reversibilité, created for the Paris Opera Ballet by Michel Kelemenis in 1999. This pas de trois, comes at the end of the ballet and is performed to Pavane pour une infante défunte from Ravel, which was played on the piano by Elena Bonnay.

Caroline Bance is really beautiful in this piece, as are Pierre Retif and Jean-Philippe Dury. Without judging their technical skills, their re-creation of Kelemenis' ballet grasped the "Kelemenis style." I found more passion in these three performers than with the original cast. It seemed to have a story, which was not what felt when I first saw it in 1999. The dancers really infused themselves into this ballet, but Bance and Retif are very experimented dancers.

To close the evening, Aunis, by Jacques Garnier, performed to an original score for the accordion played by the composer Maurice Pacher, was when the audience was able to see the two male surnuméraires, Alexandre Carniato and Martin Chaix, as well as Simone Valastro, a quadrille. The ballet was well rehearsed by Wilfried Romoli. This work evocated Britain--three boys in black trousers and white shirts always dancing together. This cheery piece ended the evening on a joyful note and was really well danced in spite of the staging, which seemed to be missing something.

The second part of the show was more interesting and better danced than the first. The problem was that we didn't get a chance to discover any new faces. This just confirms that there are too many dancers who deserved to be promoted at the last internal competition, dancers like Dorothée Gilbert, Myriam Ould Braham, Bruno Bouché and again, Nathalie Vandard, and that those who were promoted in the last competition were not necessarily the best. I was left hoping that any faults were due to stage fright or due to inexperience with being on stage. The dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet are always proficient from a technical perspective.

I can understand the desire to provide classical ballets as an outlet for the dancers who appeared in Nosferatu, but many other young dancers could have participated in this presentation, such as Emilie Cozette, Adrien Bodet, Sébastien Bertaud, or Eve Grinztajn, Julie Martel and so on.


* Surnumeraires are dancers who are engaged on contract-by-contract basis. They must pass an exam regularly in order to have their contract renewed. These dancers are often students who don't enter the troupe directly at the end of their training or dancers from other places.

 

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Edited by Marie.


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