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Sylvie Guillem - Sacred Monsters & Marguerite and Armand - Athens - Winter 2013/14


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Sylvie Guillem appeared during Christmas time at Megaron Mousikis in Athens in what may be qualified a true Greek marathon. Seven performances of "Sacred Monsters" with matinees on Saturday and Sunday plus the night performances followed closely by six performances of "Marguerite et Armand". The experience was overwhelming.

 

"Sacred Monsters" her  collaboration with A. Khan remains as fresh and wonderful as ever, so full of wit, charm, intelligence, beauty, humour and sensuality. Two dancers from totally different horizons unite their forces driven quite simply by those qualities all great artists have in common. Curiosity, passion, quest for perfection and generosity towards the audience. These elements contribute in creating  a choreography which is atypical and unusual (this is meant as a compliment) and is both intelligent and popular for the audience. Sylvie even in the most contemporary context retains the grace and beauty of the utlimate ballerina, but she has the genius to adapt to different styles and the meeting between ballet and kathak is a happy one.

 

"Marguerite and Armand" was preceded by "Etudes" a wonderful, inventive choreography by Harald Lander. It was beautifully danced by the Tokyo Ballet perfectly tuned, with great ease, elegance and a perfect sens of coordination.

 

And then from virtuosity to pure emotion. As we know Guillem was the first to have "dared" touch "Marguerite and Armand" after the mythican couple Nureyev and Fonteyn d made it its own for decades. When she first presented it at the Royal Ballet she was partnered by the marvellous Nicolas Le Riche. In Athens it was Massimo Murru of La Scala who accompagnied her. It was a match made in heaven. In about 35 or so minutes all the intensity, the passion, the beauty of Marguerite and Armand was present. Each tiny gesture counted, every facial expression accompagnied the movement  and seemed a natural extension of it. What is striking is how beautifully Sylvie's Marguerite has matured. She has preserved that wonderufl youthful and glittering quality of hers that makes her so appealing in parts like Manon or Juliet, but she has added this certain quality of knowing all too well the superficial demimonde into which the Lady of the Camelias is living. So her first gaze at Massimo Murru strikes like a thunder and her abandon and joy in the scene in the country are contagious. This Marguerite knows all too well that happiness like this is not detsined to last forever so she wants to live it as fully as possible. Isn't this a perfect metaphor: Marguerite clinging to each moment of happiness since she never knows what tomorrow brings and a ballerina, any ballerina for that matter clinging with utter intensity to her art, since the future can be so uncertain for dancers (in the case of Guillem she is at the top of her profession for more than three decades so she could be among the exceptions).

 

Olivier Chanut portrayed Armand's father with dignity and authority and had a true rapport with Guillem who elevated the scene into great heights of dramatic intensity.  As for her farewell with Armand, it was  pure emotion. And that raw emotion, the struggle of a powerful loving soul with an ailing body  of the dying courtesan who becomes a frantic, fragile, girl as she is reunited with her Armand, were hertbreaking.

 

As always, Sylvie's work en pointes was exemplary and utterly beautiful and as expressive as ever. And the pas de deux with Murru show two artists at the top of their powers and artistic maturity who really know how to create emotion for the audience. "Marguerite et Armand" was masterfully accompanied on the piano (Franz Liszt's B minor piano sonata) by Davide Cabassi.

 

Here is a report on Greek television for the opening night of "Marguerite et Armand" with some extracts:

http://www.megatv.com/megagegonota/summary.asp?catid=27386&subid=2&pubid=32796782

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