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POB 2004-2005 season


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#16 Drew

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Posted 12 March 2004 - 09:49 AM

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.

#17 Estelle

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Posted 12 March 2004 - 04:30 PM

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:

#18 Alexandra

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Posted 12 March 2004 - 10:18 PM

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

#19 Naoko S

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Posted 13 March 2004 - 12:59 PM

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?

#20 Juliette

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Posted 13 March 2004 - 02:12 PM

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, 13 March 2004 - 02:15 PM.


#21 Estelle

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Posted 13 March 2004 - 04:04 PM

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).

#22 Juliette

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Posted 14 March 2004 - 02:40 AM

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.

#23 Naoko S

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Posted 14 March 2004 - 05:52 AM

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.......

#24 Juliette

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Posted 14 March 2004 - 08:12 AM

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, 14 March 2004 - 08:14 AM.


#25 Estelle

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Posted 14 March 2004 - 09:17 AM

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.

#26 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 14 March 2004 - 10:50 AM

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.


Did you really hear that, Juliette? It does sound like news to me.

#27 Juliette

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Posted 14 March 2004 - 11:19 AM

Yes, I spoke with some young dancers from the corps and they told me that and a friend told me two dancers have told her the same. But perhaps they don't all think that; I don't know and I just wanted to tell that even dancers could be disappointed.

#28 Naoko S

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Posted 14 March 2004 - 02:01 PM

Juliette,

>>Of course they are interested to work with new choreographers and on different things, but they want new ballets to stay classical,

Yes, you've really summed up the stance every ballet company should *ideally* take, I think. For a long time I was led to believe POB's stance towards contemporary works were that way, but now a catalyst seems to take over the main frame, which is a tragedy..... (How can dancers enrich their reading or cultivate the depth in classical roles when they are rarely given opportunities to dance - the best teacher for young dancers to absorb classical roles I think is nothing but experiences...... )

I've read your observations on French public's attitude towards dance/ballet with great interests. Well influential people do exist in any field of art, or in any country, but personally I'm inclined to think it's more to do with the company's directions. One AD can make an epoch-making change, as Nureyeve once did to POB - if as Estelle pointed out Mme Lefèvre's old frames with modern dance were still going strong after decades, well, things aren't really looking favourable to us at least in her tenure......


Estelle,

>>(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.

Sadly your point seems relevant - and it looks like a universal phenomenon to me. Let's just say that opera in general is more accessible art than ballet :( - it's actually true as opera doesn't take a lot of efforts for viewers to appreciate - if music was good and presented in a good manner it would work, whereas appreciating ballets perhaps takes repeated viewings and background knowledge on narratives are also desirable as there's no word to explain what's going on on the stage.

#29 Françoise

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Posted 20 March 2004 - 12:14 PM

POB spectators wrote a petition under form of "open" Letter to the Direction against the classical and neoclassical crisis in POB due to the next Season.

For sign this petition, you must print it and send it to the indicated mail address !

Petition

Thanks to all the foreign spectators to send it :unsure: More we are numerous, more we could have a 2005-2006 season more exciting.

By the moment, text is in French unfortunately, but we will make translate it !

#30 Alexandra

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Posted 20 March 2004 - 12:23 PM

Merci, Francoise!

I'm very glad the French balletgoers are letting the management know what they think!

There have been many interesting comments on this thread. We're having the same problem here (except our non-classical ballet often tends to be pop dance, dance to pop music). What Estelle wrote about "culture generale" is true in America, too:

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.


One of the big problems in American dance writing is that the editors, at both publishing houses and newspapers, are no longer "cultivated" in this sense of the word -- as they would have been a generation ago. It's a symptom of the same problem: there's little arts education; education in the performing arts was once done privately, in families, and that seems to have stopped.


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