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Estelle

POB 2004-2005 season

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The next POB season will be announced on March 8.

The rumors I've heard so far (many modern works, increased prices...) don't make me feel optimistic. Well, let's hope it's not true!

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The season was announced today to the AROP members. It's not online yet, but here's what was announced (thanks to Françoise for the information)- unfortunately, the rumors were true and I find that season really dreary :angry: :(

So here is the 2004-2005 season:

-a triple bill: Jérôme Bel (new work)- Harald Lander (Etudes)- Jerome Robbins (Glass pieces) in September.

The first performance will also include the défile and Balanchine's Sonatine (and, as it has become usual in the last few fews, will probably be overpriced :( )

-A Preljocaj double bill (with MC 14/22 and a new work)

-a triple bill: Trisha Brown (Glacial decoy and a new work)- William Forsythe (Pas/ parts), Francine Lancelot (Bach suite)

-Nureyev's production of The Sleeping Beauty

-Kader Belarbi's Hurlevent

-Nureyev's production of Cinderella

-a triple bill: Suzanne Linke (Les familiers du labyrinthe)- Michèle Noiret (new work)- Laura Scozzi (The seven deadly sins, premiered a few seasons ago during a homage to Kochno)

-John Neumeier's Sylvia

-Pina Bausch's Orphée et Eurydice

-Nureyev's production of Romeo and Juliet

-a Roland Petit triple bill with Carmen, Le jeune homme et la mort and L'Arlésienne

And that's all for the company. As you can see, there's a sad lack of classical works: only three big productions by Nureyev, and (in the neoclassical field) only Etudes, Glass pieces, Neumeier's Sylvia (which I don't find very interesting- and which was performed for a half-empty theater last season) and the Petit works. All the new works in the repertory are modern works.

There's a definite slant towards modern works. I don't know if it has anything to do with the arrival of Gerard Mortier as the successor of Hugues Gall... But that season sounds indeed like one of the Théâtre de la Ville, not one of the Paris Opera Ballet! :( And much of the repertory of the company is completely ignored: no Lifar (who was born in 1905),

no Balanchine, Tudor, no Ashton, no Fokine... :(

Also the two guest companies of the season will be modern: the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, and Alain Platel's company.

The school program will include a new work by José Martinez, Balanchine's Le Tombeau de Couperin (the only Balanchine work of the season <sigh>) and Aveline's Les deux pigeons.

Well, I guess I'll save some money on ballet tickets next season.

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And one more little gift by the Paris Opera: the prices will increase quite a lot (more than +10% for some categories, and some seats will be in a more expensive category than before).

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Estelle, the programm is so clear :rolleyes: that it's not Suzanne Linke who choreographied Les Familiers du Labyrinthe but Michèle Noiret :devil: .

It's a new work of Suzanne Linka that we will have in this evening consacred to women choreograph.

A very sad season too contemporary, no neo-classical and always the same ballets in classical :angry:

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Thanks for the precision, Françoise.

Yes, it's a really sad season :devil: And I really wonder if they'll find enough people to fill the theater to see such programs...

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Well, for sure, I won't be contributing a lot to the filling of the theater :devil: ! Thank you so much to the new direction :devil: ! I think I will save enough money to travel to London and have the chance to see some ballet !

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Come along to London, folks (and the dancers too!) - you're all *very* welcome. But be warned ticket prices are even higher here.....

....well I share your grief. Too few classical works, total absence of ballets blanc and Balanchine (nearly!) has made me speechless - surely the choice of repertoire is not dependent on financial reasons? (I've been led to believe POB is the wealthiest ballet company in Europe.....)

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Ah, now the Paris Opera Ballet is officially a modern dance company, it seems.

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Unfortunately, yes, POB is becoming a modern dance company and it really makes me sick; it's so unfair! It's like it's bad to love ballet in France.

There are already so many theatres here in Paris where people can see modern dance, but there was only one where we could still see classical works. Besides, if some dancers are well-at-ease in modern dance, most of all are only well-trained classical dancers and will not dance a lot next season.

People are very lucky in London and in the US!

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There are already so many theatres here in Paris where people can see modern dance, but there was only one where we could still see classical works. Besides, if some dancers are well-at-ease in modern dance, most of all are only well-trained classical dancers and will not dance a lot next season.

Oh yes, I agree with you completely, Juliette! :wink: Also, being required to switch so often between so many different styles and techniques often causes many injuries.

Naoko, yes the Paris Opera is very rich, however I think that in general more money goes to opera productions than to ballet productions. But I have no idea of what costs more... And there will be a lot of new works in the next season which usually costs quite a lot (new sets, new costumes, sometimes new music). A large majority of the modern dance works created by the Paris Opera Ballet during the last decade (e.g. Lionel Hoche's Yamm, Jean-Claude Gallotta's Nosferatu, Odile Duboc's Rhapsody in blue, Darde's Orison...) were not performed after their first season and are unlikely to be performed again- so even it they were less expensive than classical productions, that's not a wise investment...

Also what is saddening is that there really is some audience who wants to see more classics (for example, Lacotte's "Paquita" was received with much enthusiasm by the audience, the Bolchoi's performances were sold out, etc.) but the direction seems to pay very little attention to that, and seems to think now that the POB's role is to dance about any kind of dance.

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If all of you would write to them and say what you've said here, it might make a difference!

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A lot of us intend to do something to tell the POB how we feel about it. And any people who would do the same and support us will be welcome! :wink:

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I wonder how the POB's income from tickets is divided up between 'regular' ballet-goers and between tourists/corporate, etc. Personally, when I was in Paris 3 years ago, I would have gone to anything being presented by the POB. Of course, I would have preferred to have seen Swan Lake or La Bayadere rather than Nosferatu :shrug: but what could I do, Nosferatu was the only production on at the time. Perhaps management counts on 'drop-ins' more than on 'regulars'.

Also, as it is heavily subsidized, the POB can afford to ignore public opinion more than most companies. French posters, are there ever discussions of reducing its subsidy?

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It seems that Brigitte Lefèvre's idea about how to preserve classical ballet in Paris is limited to mount a two or three Nureyev classics per season, and that's it. A whole part of their classical repertory is completely overlooked and sacrificed to contemporary dance. The next step could be to stage their examinations with three minutes of Bausch or Brown.

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If all of you would write to them and say what you've said here, it might make a difference!

That is definitely not the way it works in France.

I suspect that would encourage the guys in charge to do more Bausch.

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GWTW -- I doubt reducing the subsidy would lead to more classical productions. If anything, it might turn into an excuse to do more contemporary works that don't need the elaborate productions many of the classics need. It may well be a good thing for management to hear from its audience -- and to understand that there IS an audience for classical ballet -- but the free market per se hasn't done much for ballet companies elsewhere, I wouldn't wish it on Paris.

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It seems that Brigitte Lefèvre's idea about how to preserve classical ballet in Paris is limited to mount a two or three Nureyev classics per season, and that's it. A whole part of their classical repertory is completely overlooked and sacrificed to contemporary dance. The next step could be to stage their examinations with three minutes of Bausch or Brown.

Oh yes, unfortunately :D Lefèvre seems to have very little genuine interest in the classical repertory.

I have no idea of what might really influence the POB direction's policy (and also of what was decided by Lefèvre herself, or by the new director Gérard Mortier, or by the soon leaving Hugues Gall). Yes, they have big subsidies, and I haven't heard of plans to reduce it (and, as Drew pointed out, reduced subsidies would perhaps lead to more low cost, recorded music, three people on stage modern works). I'll try writing to the direction, but I am not sure that I'm a "big" enough customer for them to pay any attention to it. And the AROP association seems to focus mostly on opera and not on ballet (and most French critics are interested only in modern dance, so they probably think such a programming is a genius idea)... That's quite depressing :wink::D:unsure:

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Well, then, Herman, we must DEMAND they do more Bausch!!!

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Estelle, Paris Opera being heavily subsidised by the state means that the most important and the "biggest" patron is, needless to say, French public. As a tax-payer your voice should count more than anyone else's!

>>And the AROP association seems to focus mostly on opera and not on ballet

Well the situations are mostly the same across Europe, aren't they - for instance Covent Garden is no exception.....

>>(and most French critics are interested only in modern dance, so they probably think such a programming is a genius idea)...

!!! It's very interesting to know that French critics in general don't care about classics - maybe we should be thankful for having Clement Crisp over here?

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It's true that in a way it is the French public who is paying for the POB.

But the problem is: it 's not only the critics who are mainly interested in modern dance, French people are too and most of them don't feel at all concerned by ballet.

For instance, the performances in the Théâtre de la Ville (a theatre for modern dance) are very often sold out and in TV or newspapers there are almost only modern dance too. When they speak of the POB, it is only where there is a new modern dance production.

Therefore, the problem is bigger: it is fashionable to go to see modern dance and out of fashion to go to see ballet, and POB's next season is only one of the illustrations of this French way of thinking. They don't care if the POB loses its identity (and that even if classical works are the only ones sold out in Garnier).

Edited by Juliette

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Juliette: yes, you summarized quite well, the situation... :D Naoko, yes indeed, you're lucky to have Clement Crisp, and more generally to have several critics who are really interested in modern dance and regularly publish some reviews about it. In France, in general newspaper (not dance magazines) there are not many articles about ballet, René Sirvin does write some in "Le Figaro" (but well, he very rarely disagrees to anything done by the POB direction, which can become a bit annoying and predictable) but most of the time the reviews are only about new productions (don't expect to see any review of the upcoming series of "La Sylphide", for example).

But I'm not so sure about "French people": yes the Théâtre de la Ville often is sold out, but so are some POB performances of classical works (and some modern works danced by the POB don't sell so well, for example I've heard that there still are quite a lot of available tickets for Carolyn Carlson's "Signes"- also several modern works created by the POB were received quite tepidly), and I think that in a lot of cities outside Paris there's an audience who'd like to see more ballet productions (and for example the galas organized independently by some POB dancers seem quite successful). Some people see modern dance as more "fahionable", but that's not everybody. Well, that's a country big enough to have both an audience for ballet *and* for modern dance, isn't it? But the opportunities to see some real ballet are rarer and rarer- all the more as there is very little ballet shown on TV at a decent hour (unlike, from what I've read, before the mid-1980s, when more ballet was shown on TV, and it probably created quite a lot of vocations among children).

What is worrying is that it should be the role of the POB's direction to be interested in preserving its repertory (and also to create some new ballet works, but the problem is that ballet choreographers are an almost extinct species in France), but now they seem to consider that just doing a few Nureyev productions in a season is enough (and I'm not even sure they have more interest in it than just financial reasons)... Lefèvre's interest in promoting modern dance when she left the POB in the 1960s to create her own company with Jacques Garnier was worth admiring, as in that period modern dance was very scarce in France, but now it's just the opposite and she hasn't changed much her behavior (though claiming in interviews her love for ballet, but there often is little logic between what she says and what she actually does).

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Yes, Estelle, you are totally right: only classical works are sold out in Garnier and sometimes in Bastille (and I mentionned it). But what I meant is that people at the head of the POB don't care about this kind of thing, they just want to show a particular face (that I called fashionable) of their theatre.

And when I spoke about French people I don't mean all the people in France but the people who feel concerned with dance and culture in Paris and thus who are deciding. It's hard sometimes to be clear in English! I'll try later to explain what I mean more precisely.

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Estelle,

>>But the opportunities to see some real ballet are rarer and rarer- all the more as there is very little ballet shown on TV at a decent hour (unlike, from what I've read, before the mid-1980s, when more ballet was shown on TV, and it probably created quite a lot of vocations among children).

Valid point you've made here, I'd say. As you may know Japan is without doubt one of the ballet enthusiast countries on the planet where *classical* ballets dominate and prevail - there's an active contemporary dance scene as well, but their presence is rather modest and absolutely incomparable to the popularity and commercial success classical ballets have achieved over there. One of the factors contributed to make this possible, I think, has been an accessibility to the form of art via TV; NHK, Japanese national broadcasting station have presented more ballet programmes than perhaps anyone else in the industry for decades - after all nothing makes the accessibility to the form of art easier than TV!

Looking back, as a child I had wonderful opportunities of seeing great ballerinas such as Yoko Morishita and Eva Evdokimova rather frequently on TV, which no doubt rooted a love and respect for this form of art in me...... from what I see the situations have not changed much since then except that they are now mainly broadcasted on satellite channels.

Juliette, your observations on the attitude of general French ballet-goers are most interesting. Please take your time and keep them coming - I can wait forever!

This may be a sidetrack, but I've wondered how the lack of classical repertoire would influence the classically-trained dancers. In the recent issue of "DANSE" magazine an interview with Mathieu Ganio is featured. It's written in French so my understanding may be incorrect, but he seems to show his interests in dancing the repertoire such as "all the classical and romantic works - R&J, Raymonda, Manon to name but a few - plus some works by Kylian & Robbins".

That he, the most shining prospect for POB, considers taking on classical/neo-classical works in his formative years more important is a great console to hear, and his attitude should be admired - but what if the company fail to meet the demands? It's unbearable to imagine young & talented dancers like Ganio being ripped off the opportunities of dancing essential ballet roles in their youth.......

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Naoko, you pointed out a very interesting thing: what the dancers want and think. From what I have heard from some POB dancers, they are as sorry as us about next season and for two main reasons.

First, the corps won't dance a lot next season, because only Sleeping Beauty needs a lot of dancers on stage and have a lot of soloists parts (Bluebird Pdd, the cat, the fairies, the foreign princes...); Roméo, Cinderella, Sylvia, Etudes and Glass Pieces also need dancers from the corps, but many of them have only a little to dance in these ballets. Even soloists are disappointed because there are not very interesting parts to dance (except Romeo and Juliet, Sylvia...)

Then, they are well-trained classical dancers and when they enter in this company they all dream about dancing the corps in mythical ballets such as Giselle, Swan lake, Sleeping beauty, Bayadère...And as soloist, they all dream to dance the great roles of the repertory as Romeo, Juliet, Giselle, Odette/Odile, Manon or Des Grieux...Of course they are interested to work with new choreographers and on different things, but they want new ballets to stay classical, as are the ballets from Kyliàn, Forsythe or Mats Ek. For instance, Scozzi's "Les sept péchés capitaux" has only few parts danced and it's more like theatre; besides, it's so coarse!

About french ballet-goers, there are three main categories:

- occasionnal ballet-goers (most of French people), who are looking for entertainment and who represent most of the POB's audience. They want to see classical works, because they make them spend a good evening and they make them dream. But, if there is no classical works, they won't come anymore and will see a play or a musical instead. And that's all! They don't feel concerned about POB's future or identity.

- regular ballet-goers, who like dance as any other art and who come in Garnier as often as they go to other theatres. These are the people who like anything but modern dance and these are the ones I spoke about before. TV and newspapers are made for them because they have money and they make the fashions. I know a lot of people like that (and although some of them are not like that, they act this way to pretend they belong to this "upper" part of the society). All of them are really excited about next POB season (they say: "at last, no more tutus and pointes; it's so old-fashioned!", sic) as they are excited about any new opera staging or any new painter.

Among all the people who live in France, there are a minority, but in Paris, they have the power. Outside Paris, there are other problems as the lack of money and besides there are almost no more classical companies.

- at last, there are avid classical ballet-goers like us, for whom ballet is a passion and who don't care about "fashions". We only want to see beautiful dance, wonderful balllets and wonderful dancers. And we really love the POB company and its repertory. But we haven't the money and we are not interesting. It's so sad.

And what I say about dance is applicable to any other art (theatre, painting, movis...); as if France would like to be famous for its avant-garde side.

But it is only my point of view! And, although I don't like POB's next season, I like modern dance; POB is just not the right place!

Edited by Juliette

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Naoko wrote:

Valid point you've made here, I'd say. As you may know Japan is without doubt one of the ballet enthusiast countries on the planet where *classical* ballets dominate and prevail - there's an active contemporary dance scene as well, but their presence is rather modest and absolutely incomparable to the popularity and commercial success classical ballets have achieved over there. One of the factors contributed to make this possible, I think, has been an accessibility to the form of art via TV; NHK, Japanese national broadcasting station have presented more ballet programmes than perhaps anyone else in the industry for decades - after all nothing makes the accessibility to the form of art easier than TV!

Looking back, as a child I had wonderful opportunities of seeing great ballerinas such as Yoko Morishita and Eva Evdokimova rather frequently on TV, which no doubt rooted a love and respect for this form of art in me...... from what I see the situations have not changed much since then except that they are now mainly broadcasted on satellite channels.

Well, the Japanese TV audience is very lucky from that point of view! Here, the French- German cultural channel Arte shows some dance from time to time, but not often, and mostly short modern works, and the other general channels show nearly nothing, there is some ballet on the music channel Mezzo but not many people get it. Well, I started paying attention to ballet only around 1992 so don't know much about the French TV before, but from what I've read (Françoise, perhaps you could tell us more?) there used to be more ballet on TV, in cultural programs like "Le Grand Echiquier" (and also the series "L'âge heureux" in the 1960s, which took place at the POB school, seems to have impressed quite a lot of children back then). ButI guess that in that period, TV channels were less interested in making money and getting a larger audience... That's a pity, as TV is about the only exposure to ballet that many people get. :(

Juliette wrote:

Naoko, you pointed out a very interesting thing: what the dancers want and think. From what I have heard from some POB dancers, they are as sorry as us about next season and for two main reasons.

It's interesting to know about the opinion of the dancers. Well, in general I'd say I'm a bit cautious about the dancers' opinions, because they sometimes tend (which is natural) to focus on what they get to dance, and also on their own relationship with the choreographers, so that sometimes they'd prefer to perform a ballet which is uninteresting to the audience but which includes a long solo for them, or was created by a choreographer with whom they like to work as a person. :grinning: But indeed the next season won't include many interesting things to do for the corps de ballet, and indeed one might wonder why having such a large corps de ballet and never really using it...

they want new ballets to stay classical, as are the ballets from Kyliàn, Forsythe or Mats Ek.

I'd respectfully disagree about Ek's works (which I generally like a lot, by the way) being called "classical", even though the French press generally calls it "néo-classique": to me, Ek's technique seems very far from classical technique to me, and much closer to modern dance, using deep pliés, turned in feet, etc. Actually I've often wondered about the use of "néoclassique" to depict his works (but sometimes I think the French press would perhaps call Martha Graham's works "néoclassique" too :green:).

About your categories of ballet-goers (by the way, perhaps we, as French speakers, should be cautious that in French "ballet" often is used more loosely than in English, as in English "ballet" generally means what we'd call "danse classique" or "ballet classique", so I'd rather say "dance goers" in general) I'd agree in general, though perhaps not about the "money" issue as I don't have the feeling that there's much difference of wealth between ballet fans and modern dance fans... I'd say that there are many prejudices against ballet (in the classical sense), and unfortunately in France it often is considered as"not intellectual enough", not a "serious" form of art (while classical music or opera, for example, would be treated better), ballet is not considered as part of "culture générale"

(e.g. any "cultivated" person is expect to know at least a little bit about, say, Bach or Beethoven, or who composed "Carmen" or "La Walkyrie", but that's not the same for Petipa or Fokine) and that probably influences the reactions or many people. If the Comédie-Française, for example, said "well, next season we will perform only one play by Molière, nothing by Corneille, Racine, Marivaux, etc. and only works dating from the last 20 years" , it's likely that there would be a lot of surprised and angry reactions in the press... But it's not the same for dance.

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