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POB, Sehgal/ Peck/ Forsythe/ Pite mixed programme


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“This is so contemporary”, shouted four performers who were approaching and surrounding me with their dancing when I walked into Palais Garnier yesterday afternoon. A fitting description for the mixed programme which had its final performance yesterday, and which started with performances in various public places of the Opera House, choreographed by Tino Sehgal. One of these was a couple enlacing each other in various kissing poses, taken from art works e.g., Rodin and Brancusi, and moving from one art work to the next in slow motion. A fascinating concept. Undoubtedly, however, there will have been art works that I didn’t recognise, and I wish there would have been a list of those depicted.

Justin Peck’s In Creases, taken into the POB repertoire in March 2016, was shown again, and both Vincent Chaillet and Marc Moreau shone in it. William Forsythe’s Blake Works I was premiered in July 2016 as part of an all-Forsythe programme and also performed again. Danced to songs by James Blake that showed different aspects of love in relationships, I preferred the choreography to the tracks that were more melodious. A clear favourite was “I hope my life” (see the POB teaser on its web site), led by Ludmila Pagliero, Leonore Baulac, Hugo Marchand (splendid!) and Germain Louvet. I also enjoyed particularly “Two Men Down” (imagine a group of friends dancing in a club, a male member of the group goes into the centre to perform a virtuoso solo, then another male member follows suit … two men down!) and a closing PDD “Forever”, possibly the most academic choreography of the whole piece, danced beautifully by Ludmila Pagliero and Germain Louvet.

Crystal Pite’s The Seasons’ Canon to Max Richter’s version of Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Season followed after the interval. To answer the question that was raised in another thread – this is very different to Akram Khan’s choreography for Giselle. Pite uses the music to show natural phenomena through dance and thereby creates visually stunning and stunningly visual scenes. The solo violin plays at the start of the Spring section, and single heads rise above the tight mass of bodies (think plants emerging from the soil in spring --- this and the following my own interpretation of what I saw) before the dancers move in rippling waves. This was so incredibly poetic that tears were rolling down my face, something I hadn’t experienced previously right at the start of a ballet. Summer sees dancers carried aloft (maybe birds flying high up in the air). Autumn again stunning. The dancers stand behind each other and move their arms to the music – arms in 5th position, then individuals move their arms sideways, down, etc., some dancers step to the side and back in line again. The dancers open their arms from 5th to 1st in a wave from front to back (think grains ripening and opening, or trees losing their leaves). Winter with rolling waves of dancers, resembling snowdrifts across the landscape. I haven’t seen any other of her choreographies, however based on The Seasons’ Canon, Pite’s piece for the Royal Ballet in 2017 will be a treat.

The programme closed off with a new piece “Untitled” by Tino Sehgal. Reviews of this piece on social media were rather mixed, and someone even suggested leaving the auditorium in the short pause following The Seasons’ Canon. I am very glad I stayed. It was funny, intriguing, and it turned sideways and upside down the concept of the audience watching dancers perform on stage. The music starts to play (think pop music), and the lights go on and off in tune with the music, followed by the curtain opening and the black panels and side panels moving down and up in various rhythmic combinations – the scenery indeed was dancing. A large group of dancers bourree across the stage on demi-pointe. Three of them climb down to the orchestra pit, and one of them climbs up to stand at the front of the orchestra stalls – and starts to dance. And she is not alone - other dancers appear in all parts of the auditorium and dance along to the music. The fun then really started when some audience members joined in, predominantly in the amphitheatre, but also in the centre of the balcony and in some of the boxes. By the time I had mustered the courage to also stand up and dance (with everyone wide around me still sitting and watching those who did), the performance was unfortunately already nearing its end. The dancers exited the auditorium together with the spectators and gave some final performances on the main staircases, both inside and outside the building. I left the building with a huge smile on my face.

 

edited to increase font size

Edited by Duck
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Thank you for the review that reads like a report from an Action Art performance which, in  a way, the first programme of the season at the Opéra was. I have my own thoughts about it based on what I saw. In one word: I don't think it was worthy of the artists who were employed.

Edited by assoluta
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Thank you for the review that reads like a report from an Action Art performance which, in  a way, the first program of the season at the Opéra was. I have my own thoughts about it based on what I saw. In one word: I don't think it was worthy of the artists who were employed.

 

Tino Sehgal has created performances in museums in the past (Tate, etc.), and I understand he will be at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris later this year. Art has the wonderful ability to create a wide range of audience reactions. :)

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Thanks for your wonderfully evocative review Duck.  I wish I could have been there to see this performance!

 

Some short extracts from The Seasons' Canon from the POB instagram account https://www.instagram.com/balletoperadeparis/

 

Teaser for Blake Works I https://www.operadeparis.fr/en/season-16-17/ballet/seghal-peck-pite-forsythe/gallery#head

 

Strangely, it seems easier for me going forward to head to Paris on a day trip than flying to London and back the same day. I will certainly miss the Royal Ballet!

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But now, looking at your profile, you are located in STUTTGART!!!

 

Ah yes, but it would appear that your new local ballet company is not too dusty, either :D

 

:) I am very happy with the 2016/17 ballet season in Stuttgart & I look forward to being back in London for Les Enfants Terribles :)

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