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Found 11 results

  1. How can a foreign ballet dancer join Paris Opera Ballet? Also, I'd like to know whether the repertoire of Paris Opera Ballet is mostly affected by Classical, Neoclassical or Contemporary ballet(on average at least)? Regarding the first question, I tried to search but got more confused so I thought it would be better if I asked here) (Not a ballet dancer/connoisseur. Looking for basic info for a book I'm writing. Thanks for readying)
  2. Brigitte Lefèvre organised a number of – I understand informal – choreographic events for the company’s dancers when she was at the helm of POB. Benjamin Millepied changed this into something more formal and set up a Choreographer’s Academy, with Sébastien Bertaud, Simon Valastro, Bruno Bouché and Nicolas Paul – all dancers with POB – participating, and with William Forsythe as – then – mentor (I’ve read somewhere that Aurélie Dupont has since put the Academy on standby, and I can’t see any choreographic events scheduled for next season at all). The mixed programme at Palais Garnier last week presented the results of the Academy’s work. I saw the performance on Sunday afternoon. The four dancers all started to produce their first choreographies some 10 to 15 years ago, though I hadn’t previously heard of any choreographies by Valastro or Paul. Bertaud’s Renaissance for 15 dancers was undoubtedly the piece that received by far the most press coverage before the opening night, due to the designs by Olivier Rousteing/ Balmain. The costumes looked sparkly in the pictures and even more so on stage, reflecting the strong lights. The choreography to Mendelssohn’s 2nd Violin Concerto was vivid and fluid, alternating corps, PDD and small groups. Some movements gave a hint of a story (a dancer running to the side of the stage, pausing, his hand on his front as if thinking about something, and running back into the centre of the stage; also some of the PDD), other elements were purely abstract. While I thought at times that, given the passionate music, a stronger narrative element would have been great, the work was just beautiful to look at. The uncontested star of the performance and indeed of the whole programme for me was Pablo Legasa (Coryphée), who stepped in for Mathias Heymann the day of the opening night, and thus danced his corps role plus the role created on Mathias Heymann with its many intricate and incredibly fast solos. And dear me, he delivered! With astonishing fluidity, assuredness, precision and an immensely visible joy of performing. In one of these allegro solos, following a fast section, he took his leg into a high developé à la seconde (with the leg at say, 10 o’clock) on demi pointe, and then he held that position for a second or two or three, all while smiling exuberantly … followed by the next fast section of that solo. I fell in love with his dancing rather helplessly! Great also to see Joseph Aumeer on stage in a corps role that put him centre stage. Simon Valastro’s Little match girl Passion (Passion with a capital “P”) is based on Andersen’s story and uses David Lang’s music. This is a multisensorial work – live Passion-like music in the orchestra pit, 4 singers – one singer wears a soutane, the others are dressed in black from head to toe, they start in the pit, then walk onto the stage where they walk around to sing and tell the story, they hold and comfort the little match girl (Eleonora Abbagnato, superb) on her deathbed, they end the piece back in the pit. I sensed that the singing was the driving force and the dancing was shaping out its content. I guess I will have read the story as a child but had forgotten its bitter end, and I found the piece incredibly emotional. If Pablo Legasa in Renaissance was the star performer of the programme for me, Simon Valastro’s choreography achieved this for me in its story telling cum choreography, and I would love to see more of him as choreographer. Bouché’s Undoing world is about refugees; to quote from the programme book, “seeking out rare halos of resistance in a society torn between chaos and survival”. Dancers use golden rescue sheets to highlight their plight, and they dance simple steps in circular groups as a means of calm and resistance. While there were elements of the choreography that went beyond me, I found the group sections very effective. Paul’s Seven and a half metres above the mountains uses Renaissance music and, based on the programme book, refers to “submersion in all its forms”. Dancers in everyday clothes walk up the stairs from the orchestra pit onto the stage and then towards the back of the stage, where they disappear, just to walk up the stairs again, etc., creating an endless and possibly hypnotising flow of such movements. Some dancers walk towards the centre of the stage where they perform contemporary solos, duos and trios, while other dancers continue to walk past them. A number of comments on social media praised this work very highly, so, clearly, I will have missed something there (as I really didn’t get it). It’s a pity the work of the Academy is not continued as it not only gives dancers the opportunity to present and further explore their choreographic talents on the main stage; it also gives some of the more junior dancers who may not be in a featured role that often the chance to shine more prominently. I understand that with new works, the duration of the programme may be difficult to tell upfront. In this case however, something clearly went wrong. The programme was shown – up until the last performance – as 1 hour 50 minutes in duration. It took in fact 3 hours, and I understand the first night even went beyond that. I normally travel back the evening of a matinee performance which allows for a performance of up to around 2 hours 40 minutes in duration; the only reason why I was staying in Paris until Monday this time was because the train fare was so much lower on Monday that the savings even outweighed the costs of a cheap hotel on Sunday night. Lucky me that I did as I would have otherwise had to leave during the – one – interval. Who knows, though, how many others will have been affected. The first four minutes of the video in the following link show short extracts of the four choreographies https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6Hog0RQaJI.
  3. Paris Opera Ballet and The Bolshoi are to collaborate with New York City Ballet in 5 performances next summer, 20-23 July 2017, to celebrate 50 years of Balanchine's trilogy Jewels. POB will dance Emeralds, NYCB Rubies and the Bolshoi Diamonds. Later in the run NYCB and the Bolshoi will swap. Each company will use it's own costumes, so Lacroix for POB, Karinska for NYCB and Zaitseva for The Bolshoi. Should be a fantastic treat to see this!! http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/30/arts/dance/celebrating-balanchines-jewels-with-an-international-flair.html?smid=tw-nytimesarts&smtyp=cur
  4. Hello, Does anyone's children have experience auditioning for Paris Opera Ballet year round school? If so can you share your experiences? We received a letter for an invitation for 2 separate dates. The first date is a first round and the 2nd date is a week later for the 2nd round (assuming the child passes the first round). Since we are traveling out of the country for the audition, it's fairly difficult to arrange travel for both dates. Do they ever make accommodations to allow a student to attend just one audition? We did submit a video of my dd and she was accepted to the summer school, so they do have a record of her dancing in a video format. Any suggestions? This is a strong first choice school for her and she would love to be considered. Also - she just turned 12 years old. I believe they only audition up to age 13. Thanks!
  5. I had never been to any of the performances of Giselle at the Royal Opera House in the past, thinking that the choreography would be too classical for me. Then, back in February, Jérôme Bel’s Tombe hit me with all its power and emotion. So I went to the cinema broadcast of Giselle in April and saw Giselle Reimagined, and however enjoyed the latter much more than the former. I thus concluded that I would not go and see POB’s version of Giselle unless it would be with a specific cast. This remained valid … until a week ago, when I listened to the Giselle podcast on the Opéra de Paris web site. There was the music that had been used in Tombe, taken from the PDD in Act 2 when Albrecht brings flowers to Giselle’s grave! Enthralled, I went with a return ticket that became available early the next day, and this happened to be for last night. Vadim Muntagirov and Dorothée Gilbert were a wonderful lead couple, and I fully believed in their story. Albrecht is besotted with Giselle; he is free, happy and relaxed in his interactions with the peasants, in stark contrast to the stifling atmosphere of the court and his engagement with Bathilde. His lips tremble when he is asked to kiss Bathilde’s hand as a sign of honour and commitment. All this makes his devastation at Giselle’s death so truly believable. Equally, Giselle’s emotional journey from in love to desolate to protective of him is immensely convincing – just because Albrecht is so down to earth and likeable. The superbly realistic acting was coupled with excellent dancing from both - on their own and together. The POB version has a peasant PDD rather than a Pas de Six in Act 1. François Alu danced his variations with incredibly high elevations in his jumps (triple cabrioles if I saw this correctly) and received a huge ovation on the spot. While his elasticity is really impressive, thinking about it today, this was in some contrast to the much more lyrical style of his partner, and so I was missing some connection between them yesterday. One of the aspects that impressed me most in the cinema broadcast in April was Myrtha’s fierce stare and dominant body language throughout, emphasising her menacing presence and the real threat for Albrecht. I didn’t see much of this last night – I didn’t find Myrtha threatening or dominant. I don’t know whether this is intended to be softer in the POB version and/ or whether other Myrtha’s in the current run show more of it however it left me unconvinced last night. There was immense applause at the curtain calls for Vadim Muntagirov and Dorothée Gilbert and also for Koen Kessels, however much more polite for everyone else. Following the performance, it was wonderful to meet capybara & spouse at the stage door! Coming back to how it all started - it was a joy to see the backcloths and the scenery again that had been used in Tombe. What was so much more though - I was able to see how very closely the middle section of Tombe had been choreographed for Sébastien Bertaud and Sandra Escudé based on the PDD in act 2 of Giselle – Albrecht running across the stage carrying flowers, wearing a cape, the ground covered in fog; Giselle appearing and disappearing (in Tombe, rolling across the stage in a wheelchair); Albrecht pursuing Giselle; Albrecht dancing with Giselle (in Tombe, Albrecht holding Giselle’s hand while running across the stage in a small circle and pulling Giselle in her wheelchair in a larger circle all around him), Albrecht lifting Giselle (in Tombe, the overhead lift from Giselle is translated into a lift upside down) – all with the same steps for Albrecht and translated for Giselle in her wheelchair, with the same music, at the same locations on stage. If there are some aspects of last night’s performance that I am less convinced of, what it has achieved, taken all three parts of Tombe together, is illustrating how extraordinary I believe Jérôme Bel’s achievement is. --- edited to tidy up as I had clicked on "save" to early
  6. Vadim Muntagirov will be dancing with Dorothée Gilbert in POB's version of Giselle on 2 and 7 June. Muntagirov is replacing Josua Hoffalt. https://twitter.com/BalletOParis/status/732503621590351872 The forthcoming run of Giselle is sold out however return tickets become available occasionally, either on the ticket site for Giselle, or the ticket exchange forum ... and if they do, they go very quickly. The 3rd scene of the ONP site shows a number of videos about productions, life at the opera, etc. Some are funny, some are intriguing, some give insights. One of my favourite videos is about the production and transport of the one backcloths for Giselle https://www.operadeparis.fr/en/3e-scene/giselle-the-walking-landscape.
  7. In my newly found interest in POB, I watched parts of their Romeo & Juliet by Nureyev online recently, was intrigued by the difference to the MacMillan version in the final death scene and wondered what else might differ. So I looked at the different casts in their current run of Nureyev’s R&J and, inspired by Yasmine Naghdi’s and Matthew Ball’s superb double debut at the ROH last autumn, I decided to go for the youngest and most junior lead couple – Léonore Baulac and Germain Louvet. Baulac joined POB in 2008 and has been Premier Danseur since 2016: Louvet joined in 2011, Sujet since 2015. They were initially shown as cover, featured in a public rehearsal in February when they were in the early stages of learning the choreography, and then received two performances plus a general rehearsal, and a further performance was added when another cast became unavailable. Friday’s performance, which was the one I went to, was their last. The scenery in Nureyev’s Romeo & Juliet is sumptuous – shiny facades of palaces to both sides, laden market stalls. The story shows additional details, in particular in act 3 (the following not in chronological order) – why Romeo does not receive the letter (as the priest that is meant to deliver the letter to him is killed), how Romeo hears that Juliet has died (Benvolio stumbles upon the mourners and runs off to inform Romeo), a dream scene for Romeo in which he envisages the idyll of being together with Juliet, Juliet’s nightmare when death comes to meet her. Not only Juliet has a number of friends but also Romeo – not just Mercutio and Benvolio but also further friends. So more of everything in Nureyev’s ballet, and I found the scene a little overcrowded at times with lots of market traders/ citizens and all of Romeo’s friends, or all of Romeo’s and all of Juliet’s friends on stage at the same time. There were also a few elements that I found borderline vulgar in acting/ in costume. Juliet is quickly becoming a strong, driving force in the relationship that is formed with Romeo, it is her who initiates the early kisses at the ball at the Capulet’s house, and this suits Léonore Baulac very well. Baulac displayed hugely expressive and impressive acting throughout. Her eyes turn in amazement when Paris asks her for a dance at the ball, her love of Romeo is overwhelming as is her desolation when Tybalt is killed by Romeo, her despair upon realising that Romeo has poisoned himself is excruciating – she simply is Juliet. Romeo has lots of solos throughout – pirouettes, balances in arabesque, jumps into arabesque, a round of double assemblées. Germain Louvet, to my amateur eyes, showed a beautiful line and acquitted himself well given the challenging choreography and acted very well, and I look forward to seeing more of him. The two leads displayed lots and lots of chemistry on stage, the love and passion was clearly there, from when they meet at the ball through to the end. Surprisingly, the PDD between the two had various solos/ the two dancing next to each other, following each other, with a few lifts here and there but – compared to what I remember from the MacMillan version - not very much overhead. Mercutio’s death – Mercutio brilliantly played by Emmanuel Thibault – is more brutal as all his friends still think that he is playing with them and so make fun of him even when he is already dead. Benvolio shows a lot more personality than what I remember from the MacMillan version; he is the mediator, trying to prevent fighting in act 1 however then also getting angry at the Capulets. Sébastien Bertaud whom I much enjoyed in Tombe displayed vivid acting and beautiful dancing and interacted very well with Mercutio and Romeo. Paris, in the performances of MacMillan’s version that I’ve seen, can come across as likeable and genuinely trying to understand why Juliet doesn’t like him. In contrast, I found Paris in Nureyev’s version as unsympathetic as can be. All in all, I prefer MacMillan’s version, and it has been an interesting experience to compare the two. A thought for the dancers as the company has been in three concurrent different productions in recent weeks (Iolanta/ The Nutcracker just finished its run), and I guess the rehearsal process/ schedule will not always have been easy.
  8. The best was kept to the last. Justin Peck’s “In Creases” closed the programme, it was the shortest piece with just 12 minutes, it was the one that I enjoyed the most by a distance, and it received the most enthusiastic and longest applause of the evening. With piano music by Philip Glass for double piano, the choreography was musical, rhythmic and dynamic, showing couples and groups of dancers creating and dissolving geometric forms. Standout for me in Peck and in Ratmansky was Marc Moreau with his joy, virtuosity and energy. All four pieces had the musicians on stage, and with the size of the stage at Garnier, it didn’t restrict the dancing. Alexei Ratmansky’s piece “Seven Sonatas” opened the evening to music by Domenico Scarlatti. Three couples, then various solos followed by three PDD, and then groups of dancers until all came together again at the end. I enjoyed the faster parts more than the slower ones, and I found the costume tops somewhat unflattering for both the women and the men. Jerome Robbins’ “Other Dances” to Frederic Chopin follows a structure of a slow PDD followed by a fast male solo then female solo then slow male/ female solo and a concluding PDD. I am afraid I’ve added the ballet to the list of those that I don’t like. The evening picked up for me after the interval. George Balanchine’s "Duo Concertant" did have the pianist and the violinist on stage that Melody was referring to recently. The music by Igor Stravinsky was at times somewhat screechy however thankfully less so when the piano joined in. A couple stands behind the piano and listens to the music. After some time, they walk to the centre of the stage and start to dance, some of it jazzy with rhythmic arm and foot movements. From time to time a dancer walks back to behind the piano to contemplate and listen. The ballet ends in near darkness with a spotlight on just the head of the female dancer; the spotlight increases, the male dancer joins and is followed by the light. He returns to the woman, and the light now highlights only the hands as they intertwine.
  9. A return ticket for the opening night became available the evening I arrived in Paris earlier this week (what a week to be there, dance wise!). I hadn’t previously seen any choreography by Bel or Millepied (or even heard of Bel) however thought “if all fails, at least I’ll enjoy the music to Robbin’s Goldberg Variations”. As it turned out, the piece by Bel was my definite favourite and Goldberg Variations was the piece that I liked least last night. I am writing this as someone who does not tend to watch contemporary dance as too much of what I’ve seen so far wasn’t much too my taste. Jérôme Bel’s Tombe (grave) has its title from Giselle’s grave in act 2 of Giselle. The stage shows a tombstone, the scenery trees to both sides as well as the back of the stage. An article in the weekend magazine of Le Monde yesterday explained that Giselle is the preferred ballet of the dancers in Tombe. The piece is set in three parts, each related to Giselle. In each section, a male dancer from the company is paired with a woman with whom they would normally never be able to share the stage – a woman who worked in a supermarket close to where one of the dancers trained (NB the review in Le Monde today says that the woman is a baby sitter – in which case I misunderstood last night), a woman in a wheelchair, a woman well beyond eighty years old. The first part starts with a dialogue between a man and a woman from off stage (I actually missed the first sentence, thinking it’d be a stage announcement that had gone wrong). The man explains, in a very warm and gentle manner, the scenery on stage and the story of act 1 of Giselle, and the man and the woman walk on stage and continue their dialogue. He (the male dancer) explains how the scenery can be moved and how the spotlights can be used. He has a spotlight directed onto the woman (the woman who had worked in a supermarket close to where the dancer had trained// the babysitter based on the review in Le Monde), and she asks whether he is also in the spotlight. He replies that no and explains “I am in the corps the ballet, I dance behind the soloists” (this produced laughter in the audience, and I thought, what a link to comments about hierarchy in the press this week). He has the lights switched on in the auditorium, and upon seeing her amazement, explains to the woman some of the wonders of the auditorium (the golden paint, the ornaments that look like jewels). She hands her phone to a technician off stage (who is actually the choreographer) and starts to dance – disco style - to music that she has on her phone (modern music that I presume will be on French radio at the moment), and he joins in with a few jumps. They then sit down near the edge of the stage to watch what happens next. The second part sees mist flowing in on stage, music from Giselle and Albrecht – in Albrecht costume and with a bouquet of flowers – coming on stage, looking for Giselle. Giselle – in Giselle costume – rolls across the stage in a wheelchair, and Albrecht keeps missing her a few times. He finally sees her and begins to dance with her while she is in her wheelchair. In lifting her overhead and upside down, it becomes clear why the woman is in a wheelchair – one of her legs has been amputated below the knee. He puts her back down and they dance some more. At the end, he gently sits down on her lap, and she rolls offstage with him. The third part has the male dancer walking on stage and explain that unfortunately that the woman he had chosen to perform with would be unable to do so. With great appreciation, he talked about the woman – a woman well into her eighties, who had come to the Opera House since the late 1940s and followed his career from the start, always talking to him when he left the building after a performance. With palpable pain in his voice and face, he explained that he had received a call that the woman had been hospitalised and wasn’t well. And that he and the choreographer had chosen to show a video of the most recent rehearsal with the woman. And so he sat down on stage and watched the video together with the audience, showing him gently guiding the elderly woman across the rehearsal room in small and slow steps, and repeatedly gently and carefully lifting her. What started as intriguing and funny in the first part quickly became hugely thought provoking and charged with emotions in the second and third parts. The modern choreography was tailored to the personal situation of each woman with immense sensitivity, and it showed the dancers with a connection to their environment outside the opera building. Powerful and courageous; kudos to the choreographer and to everyone on stage, in particular the three women. Millepied’s piece “La nuit s’achève” (“The night ends”) comes in two parts. In the first part, three couples, clothed in warm red, raspberry and blue day wear (dresses and trousers/ shirts) dance in combinations of short PDD and male or female solos, duets and trios. The clothing in the second part changes to night wear (pyjamas and night dresses in white, dark grey, dark blue or black), the dancing switches to long PDD of the three couples. The choreography is fluid and musical, jumps are mostly small and lifts are mostly low level. There are geometric patterns in the first part where often all three couples or dancers perform the same movement, then one couple/ dancer starts another movement which the next couple/ dancer repeats a few counts later, the same for the third couple/ dancer, and then all three couples/ dancers become synchronised again. My main impression of Robbin’s Goldberg Variations was that it was long, very long. Maybe it was the pure length of the ballet (80 minutes), maybe it was that the music that played very slowly (similar to the 1981 Gould version whereas I much prefer the faster 1955 recording). In each of the two parts, dancers perform in combinations of solos, duets, trios, quartets, up to larger formations, and each part has three leading couples. Dancers change costumes – an introductory couple in period costume later dances in practice clothing, others who start in practice clothing later change into costumes. I found it difficult to identify individuals however from an attempt to match names in the cast sheet against their role in the ballet against the position in the company, I got the impression that the relatively more junior dancers who were having a prominent role in the ballet enjoyed it more, in particular with regards to the male dancers. On a few occasions though, a male dancer put their partner back on the floor when they hadn’t fully disappeared yet into the wings, and a few lifts looked like they were an effort. However maybe I was looking at these details in much more detail than usual, given the various comments about standards, so I would not want to overemphasise this. The audience reacted a lot more positively to Millepied’s piece than the other two. “Tombe” received applause mixed with some sounds of “uuuh” where I wasn’t sure whether this was a local form of booing or of showing appreciation. “La nuit s’achève” received repeated enthusiastic ovations, in particular when Millepied came on stage. The applause for Goldberg Variations was sufficient for a few curtain calls however seemed rather polite following the enthusiasm after “La nuit s’achève”. Or maybe people were tired at the end of the evening – at least I was. If anyone reading this post happens to attend one of the performances – last night ended a good 20 minutes later than advertised in the cast sheet so total running time was 3 hours 20 minutes; and some knowledge of French is really useful for the first piece.
  10. A world premiere of Akram Khan's Giselle at English National Ballet next season, Reimagining Giselle as part of Draft Works at the Royal Opera House in April 2016, Jerome Bel's production Tombe, which is inspired by Giselle, currently at Paris Opera Ballet. What makes Giselle so attractive to create modern versions of it? Or just pure coincidence? Apologies if this is an odd question!
  11. The link is necessarily in French, but Paris Match is carrying a report that Benjamin Millepied will be leaving his post as Director at Paris Opera Ballet. No date is given, but the 2016-17 Season is already fixed. Reasons speculated upon include the possibility of his wife, Natalie Portman, wanting to resume her film career, or that he is unhappy as an Administrator. If the news is confirmed, this will have been an extremely short-lived appointment - he took over in September 2014. http://www.parismatch.com/Culture/Spectacles/Benjamin-Millepied-sur-le-depart-907585 News of the appointment broke back in January 2013: http://www.balletcoforum.com/index.php?/topic/2786-benjamin-millepied-to-be-next-director-at-paris-opera-ballet/?hl=millepied
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