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POB's Francois Alu


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I had the great good fortune to see POB's La Source at the Palais Garnier the other week and after having heard much fuss about the second coming of Francois Alu (a natural successor to that spot left by the extraordinary Nicolas La Riche?) I, at last, could see for myself what all the fuss was about as he appeared in the principal male role of that production, Djemil.  Alu was, in a word, electric; always strongly lyrical, consistently immaculate both in his placement as well as in his easy partnering and emphatically masculine throughout.  You can learn more and see clips such as are included on the dancer's website.  He is a POB Premier Danseur and is only 21.  

 

I see some eager beaver has actually filmed him in a La Source variation from the full length POB production which you can see here.  

 

Alu has just been voted 'sexiest male 2014' out of a selection of 50 international men (I see Zac Efron is one of them) in what I read is Paris' (France's?) leading Gay magazine, Tetu.    

Edited by Bruce Wall
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He's a chap, not a girl, Bruce!  Francois surely?

 

Bless you, Anne.  A slip of a key.  You were kindly quick enough off the draw to allow me to correct my own embarrassment in the body (if not the title - sadly).  

 

Doesn't happen that often hereabouts.

 

Bless you big time :)

Edited by Bruce Wall
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Very sad...but as I just said on Twitter, it's his life.

 

He has spoken of being disenchanted by the long-term failure to cast him appropriately (numerous TV interviews in French).

 

He was promoted premier danseur at the 2013 concours, when Hugo Marchand and Germain Louvet were promoted to coryphée. Louvet was named étoile in December 2016, Marchand in April 2017. 

 

I wonder how much discussion Alu has had with the incoming Director of Dance, as the announcement implies he hasn't had any yet.

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Wasn’t Alu only just promoted to Etoile quite recently and now he’s doing a Guillem (ie leaving before retirement, as an etoile, and at the peak of one’s dancing powers)?  Brave man to turn his back on the pension, pay and etoile privileges....the Paris Opera is said to have one of the best pensions in the ballet world. Come and dance in London/Britain, Francois! We’re waiting! 😁

 

I’ve only ever seen him dance on videos online but he’s undoubtedly brilliant. Look forward to seeing what he performs next, and am sure his local fans hope he will be offered and undertake  some guest performances in Paris. 

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28 minutes ago, Emeralds said:

Wasn’t Alu only just promoted to Etoile quite recently and now he’s doing a Guillem (ie leaving before retirement, as an etoile, and at the peak of one’s dancing powers)?  Brave man to turn his back on the pension, pay and etoile privileges....the Paris Opera is said to have one of the best pensions in the ballet world. Come and dance in London/Britain, Francois! We’re waiting! 😁

 

I’ve only ever seen him dance on videos online but he’s undoubtedly brilliant. Look forward to seeing what he performs next, and am sure his local fans hope he will be offered and undertake  some guest performances in Paris. 

 

A possible artistic fit for ENB but maybe not temperamentally.

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1 hour ago, Emeralds said:

Wasn’t Alu only just promoted to Etoile quite recently

 

His nomination (23 April) was also the last time he performed with the company. He's been performing his solo show, Complètement jetés , and (with retired étoile Marie-Agnès Gillot and others) judging the French Strictly Danse avec les Stars.

 

He was initially announced to have been cast as Rudolf in Mayerling but has since said he wasn't ready for it (and if he had danced it I'd have gone from Australia to Paris to see it). He was then announced to be dancing (as usual) Rothbart, but again his name was withdrawn. From French sources it appears he's been in discussions regarding managing his future with the company and his outside projects since his nomination in April. It was known he had not signed his étoile contract by the end of July and that was regarded as an ominous sign for his company future.

 

He works closely with Samuel Murez, the director of the 3ème étage (side project for dancers of POB), who himself has been a quadrille with the company since 2001 (21 years and counting...and not for lack of trying either, he has attempted promotion via the concours interne a number of times).

 

Perhaps the TV series L'Opéra isn't as fictional as we thought!

 

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Francois Alu's departure as etoile (before he danced a single performance as etoile) has the unintentional side effect of revealing how exposed the Opera troupe is in terms of the male etoiles.

 

With Alu's resignation and Stephane Bullion's mandatory retirement, there are only five: Mathieu Ganio, Mathias Heymann, Germain Louvet, Hugo Marchand and Paul Marque. The Opera's Swan Lake series starts in December but only Paul Marque will be playing Siegfried. Ganio, Heymann and Marchand were announced but have since dropped out, and Louvet is cast on the contemporaneous Pina Bausch evening. That means premiere danseurs Pablo Legasa, Jeremy Loup-Quer and Marc Moreau, and the sujet Guillaume Diop are elevated to the top role of Siegfried. (Jeremy Loup-Quer is also covering all of Alu's scheduled appearances as Rothbart.)

 

Beyond Swan Lake, new director Jose Martinez will have to confront these facts: stalwart Mathieu Ganio (at 38) is getting close to the mandatory retirement age, and Mathias Heymann, while younger, is oft-injured.  And the troupe can no longer count on the "iron man" - premiere danseur Florian Magnenet - who single-handedly saved the run of Le Rouge et le Noir last season but who also reached the retirement age at the end of the same season.

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I don’t know if all POB casts have been announced as yet? If not, an opportunity arises for guest dancers perhaps? Vadim Muntagirov was cast in Raymonda at POB a couple of years ago but that didn’t happen due to the strikes. Perhaps he’ll be invited to dance Siegfried as it’s one of his signature roles. 

Edited by PeterS
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I must say that if I was an etoile, albeit a new one, and all I got offered were Rudolf and Rothbart, I would actually be a bit annoyed and start filling up my gala/guesting schedule. And ironically, despite the relatively  generous financial provision for etoiles at the Paris Opera, he probably got paid tons more sitting down judging the French Dancing with the Stars (and not dancing a single step) than he dies rehearsing and performing double tours, various pyrotechnics and tricky lifts at the ballet company. 

 

The thought of Stephane Bullion retiring makes me feel very old-I can still remember him as a “promising young soloist” who eventually became etoile. Really strange that Ganio, Heymann, and Marchand are all now out of Swan Lake (the role of Siegfried). Perhaps they ought to have cast Alu as Siegfried instead of Von Rothbart. I know Nureyev’s version has a dancing Rothbart like Grigorovich’s current one, but it’s a bit of a “meh” role if you’re a principal dancer rather than a character artist or soloist. Alu would certainly have the elevation, technique and acting skills for Siegfried. 

 

Sounds like Jose Martinez has been left with lots of issues to sort out when he starts! 

Edited by Emeralds
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Alu's physique is not "typically POB". Beloved of audiences (viz. the 20-minute chanting of "Alu étoile! Alu étoile!" at the curtain of his penultimate Solor), he has danced Colas, Hilarion, Lescaut, Solor, Basilio, the Bluebird, Rothbart and Mercutio, but never Albrecht, Des Grieux, a Prince (apart from Siegfried, once), or Romeo. Apart from Rothbart, an Emmanuel Thibault trajectory.

 

There is a school of thought that Alexander Neef, director of the Opéra, decided pragmatically to nominate him and that the words "sur proposition de la directrice de la danse" were a polite fiction.

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6 hours ago, capybara said:

 

A possible artistic fit for ENB but maybe not temperamentally.

ENB could let him pull a Cojocaru, pick the performances he wants to do while working on side projects. But that was disastrous with Kochetkova who left very soon after rejoining.

 

I understand the body is still warm, but I wonder who will take that Étoile spot? It may be controversial but my money is on Diop.

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6 hours ago, PeterS said:

Vadim Muntagirov was cast in Raymonda at POB a couple of years ago but that didn’t happen due to the strikes. Perhaps he’ll be invited to dance Siegfried as it’s one of his signature roles. 

Bringing in Muntagirov would work as a stop gap (if the troupe needed him). But it would also create an embarrassing situation where a world-renowned troupe consisting of 150+ dancers couldn't field an adequate number of Siegfrieds from within the ranks.

 

3 hours ago, Sophoife said:

There is a school of thought that Alexander Neef, director of the Opéra, decided pragmatically to nominate him and that the words "sur proposition de la directrice de la danse" were a polite fiction.

If true, then Aurelie Dupont may be having a bit of a laugh today at Neef's naivete.

 

2 hours ago, LACAD said:

I understand the body is still warm, but I wonder who will take that Étoile spot? It may be controversial but my money is on Diop.

Diop is a strong candidate for eventual etoile status but the Opera management may be wary of rushing him to the top. Mathieu Ganio is a cautionary tale in that regard. The Opera elevated Ganio (at age 20) from sujet to etoile (bypassing premiere danseur) in 2004. Subsequently, Ganio has spoken of how difficult assuming the responsibilities that come with being an etoile at the Opera was at the age of 20.

Edited by miliosr
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