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Mathieu Ganio Etoile


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#1 Juliette

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Posted 20 May 2004 - 01:21 PM

After the performance of Don Quixote tonight, Mathieu Ganio has been promoted to Etoile!
Congratulations!

#2 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 20 May 2004 - 01:43 PM

Oh my!

That was fast and young. Did he even bother with premier danseur?

Congratulations to him! I wonder how the premier danseurs (especially Benjamin Pech) feel.

#3 Françoise

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Posted 20 May 2004 - 01:53 PM

He was not premier danseur, but he would be not necessary. He is like Manuel Legris or Laurent Hilaire, an exceptional dancer who must be nominated young. He saved the performance replacing with an etoile, the part of an Etoile.

I'm sad too for Benjamin Pech because I think he should become etoile, but the two years old nomination of Laetitia Pujol, without him, lets me think that he won't become etoile, I hope to make a mistake :) .

But I'm glad for Mathieu, and all my hopes go to Dorothée Gilbet now, she is too promising like him and they would make a wonderful couple :thumbsup: !

#4 Naoko S

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Posted 20 May 2004 - 02:06 PM

BRAVO!! Congratulations, Mathieu :)

I'd like to praise Opera's directions for having made a right decision, at right time!

>>He was not premier danseur, but he would be not necessary. He is like Manuel Legris or Laurent Hilaire, an exceptional dancer who must be nominated young. He saved the performance replacing with an etoile, the part of an Etoile.

Françoise, I'd like to echo your voice here - a great thing that from now on he will only have to dance substantial/important roles, just as he deserves.

#5 Estelle

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Posted 20 May 2004 - 03:01 PM

I saw him tonight in "Don Quixote" with Agnès Letestu, and while I found him extremely promising, I can't say I got the feeling to see someone already at the level of an étoile, and think that perhaps it was a bit too early, especially considering that he got promoted to sujet just last december and that it's only his second big role (after Kourbski in "Ivan the Terrible" a few months ago) and that he's only 20, nobody was promoted so young since Sylvie Guillem nearly 20 years ago... Well, I hope that he proves me wrong and wish him good luck for his career as an etoile :)

And there was indeed a need for more male étoiles at the POB: for example, not a single one is cast in "Don Quixote" , as they are either too old (Hilaire, Belarbi, Legris), already busy in Ek's modern "Giselle" (Martinez, Le Riche) or injured (Bart), and two of the young premiers danseurs (Moreau, Bélingard) are injured for several months... Well, I hope that someday they'll finally promoted Benjamin Pech too, as he has shown in so many roles that he deserves it.

[edited to add] Being promoted so young is a great gift, as he will no longer have to worry about competitions, promotion, etc. but on the other hand it's quite a large responsibility too, because what can be easily forgiven to a young dancer (like yesterday's little mistakes...) won't be for an etoile... Well, the POB direction has announced he will dance James in June (Basilio and James in a few weeks, I guess "emploi" is a word they've never heard :grinning: ), I'm looking forward to seeing his performance.

#6 Thalictum

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Posted 21 May 2004 - 09:08 AM

This sort of thing reeks of favoritism. It looks terrible and it's demoralizing to the rest of the company. Let's not kid ourselves.

#7 cygneblanc

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Posted 21 May 2004 - 10:11 AM

Well, congratulations to Mathieu ! You have to see him, he's just amazing ! After seeing him at the annual competition, I've said he would be the star of tomorrow ! Tomorrow has arrived very soon for him, so good luck to Mathieu for the long carreer he has ahead of him ! And who knows what tomorrow will be, he has a very promising sister in the POB school !

#8 Estelle

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Posted 22 May 2004 - 09:54 AM

There's an article about it (in French) in "Le Figaro" (it might be available for only a few days):

http://www.lefigaro....22.FIG0170.html

The article insists on how surprising that promotion is (considering that so far, Hugues Gall promoted mostly experienced dancers) and underlines that Mathieu Ganio's only big roles were one performance as Kourbski in "Ivan the Terrible" and three Basilio in "Don Quichotte", which is "much for a 20-years old dancer, just promoted to sujet at the last POB competition last December, but not much for an étoile" (as far as I know, the only demi-soloist role he's danced is one of the demis in Balanchine's "Symphony in C"). Indeed it is what surprises me the most too: even Manuel Legris and Nicolas Le Riche, who also had "fast" careers (promoted respectively at 22 and 21), had danced several big roles before being promoted, and had been in the company for a longer time, while Mathieu Ganio joined the company only in the fall of 2001 (and also missed part of the previous season because of an injury). I really don't mean to criticize him, he's very good looking and his Basilio was very good considering his young age, but being promoted so young can be quite a poisonous gift as there will be a lot of pressure on him, and also it doesn't sound very fair for some of the present premiers danseurs and especially Benjamin Pech (who's danced Solor, Désiré, Siegfried, Albrecht, James...) And now all sorts of crazy rumors are flying, so it's hard to know what to expect. :shrug:

#9 Françoise

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Posted 22 May 2004 - 02:46 PM

Just a precision, Manuel Legris was 21 when he was nominated and not 22 as well as Nicolas Le Riche, Laurent Hilaire was 23 when he was nominated. It's sure that Mathieu is promoted very, very quickly and this promotion is special, especially, when you saw that all the last nominated etoile were nominated almost late and with too many parts they dance.

#10 Naoko S

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Posted 22 May 2004 - 03:51 PM

Estelle, thanks for the summary of the article and for your comments. It's very interesting to learn that Mathieu's nomination was regarded by French ballet public as an extremely exceptional case - even by comparison with similar cases for Legris & Le Riche. Not being familiarised with a 'normal' way of promotion to Etoile, my assumptions may sound too wild & optimistic for you - but what's so bad about him being so inexperienced? I'm also skeptical about a rationale some people moaning over the state of some of the "skipped", or unfortunate Premiere danseurs. (Well it's not only in France - I've been surprised and almost overwhelmed by great sympathy Japanese POB fans have shown towards M. Peche, in this instance.) Although the strict hierarchy do exist at POB, a special dancer deserves a special treatment I think - otherwise would it not lead to a reverse-discrimination? Dancer's age alone doesn't really matter either if you believe ballet world should forever ban a poisonous seniority order!

Surely at tender age of 20, as a dancer Mathieu Ganio may not be in a full-bloom yet, let alone his artistry. But as long as he possesses what it takes to become Etoile (which I believe he does), all he needs is experience which can only be gained through dancing as many a lead role as possible, isn't it? In this regard Opera's decisions appear to make a perfect sense to me.

And what is prerequisite to become Etoile? To me key factors seem to be natural talent and a star quality. I remember the remarks by Mme Thesmar featured in the film "Tout pres des etoiles" - she said the most precious thing in a dancer is 'talent'; that counts more than anything else in ballet. I agree to her views whole-heartedly and am inclined to take Mathieu's nomination to Etoile this time reflected POB directions' views, in which he was identified as a single most irresistible talent. (And if a little luck, or circumstantial factors did a favour to him, it's even better - you need to take advantage of whatever is available to be on the top in this world.)

A star quality is equally hard to come by. Before this Don Q run, most of the time I saw Mathieu dancing in a crowd, and whenever I spotted him in the Corps I thought how absurd it was to place him among many others - for he did not look anyone other than a soloist, or a star dancer who should take a lead. There's always something special about him - it really is a rare gift, I think.

>>And now all sorts of crazy rumors are flying, so it's hard to know what to expect.

Sounds interesting - I wish I could hear the rumours! But please - Mathieu's promotion is without doubt a great news, it's nothing to be pessimistic about; rather it's something to celebrate, not only for POB and French ballet public, but also for ballet audience in general, around the globe. I have a feeling that his name will be whispered at every corner of the ballet world in a not-so-distant future.......

#11 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 22 May 2004 - 04:44 PM

This is all such an interesting mystery to me. If I saw Ganio dance at all in the times I was in Paris in the last year (looking at my programs, he was one of the demi-soloists in the first movement in Symphony in C) he made no impression on me at all. He could be marvelous; I just happened not to notice him. It isn't always a mistake to single someone out young; one just needs a good eye. Alessio Carbone has moved up young and fast; I liked him a great deal. Is he being favored by the direction at all?

There's a different culture at NYCB. Dancers are often promoted early, but by the time it happens they've been onstage so often that whether you agree with it or not, you can see it coming. Usually, they've had the rank in everything but name; Alexandra Ansanelli was operating exclusively as a principal dancer for about two years before she was named one. Also, all our promotions and casting are exclusively at the discretion of the direction. Rank guarantees you nothing, except better pay and what you don't have to be asked to do (dance in the corps de ballet).

Also, there are promotions at NYCB nowadays for putting in your time; soloists and principals do get promoted in their late twenties and early thirties on a regular basis.

#12 Mashinka

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Posted 25 May 2004 - 05:25 AM

There is some degree of disquiet among the POB regulars about the Ganio promotion, even some whisperings of nepotism and although there is no actual ill-will towards him, the general opinion is that this has happened far too soon. So far Ganio has danced just Basilio (this month) and Kurbsky, which is actually a supporting role and in Russia is sometimes danced by a character dancer. Not really a suitable basis for handing out the title of etoile.

Benjamin Peche is a very fine dancer indeed and his promotion is considered overdue. Thibault should also be an etoile and his lack of recognition is still a cause of outrage with most. Still, Osta was created an etoile rather later than usual so perhaps these guys are still in with a chance.

#13 Françoise

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Posted 25 May 2004 - 06:01 AM

Emmanuel Thibault can't to be an etoile IN POB. He can be etoile in any other companies but he has not the required stylicism of French school and the possibilities to dance ALL the French repertory which is also very modern :o .

He is a brilliant technician, but not a typical Opera de Paris dancer, it's the difference and it's why, he is not promoted, he is sujet and showed sunday he was not a partner, when you see at every pdd his face change of expression and become frightened, it show some limits as well on acting :angry: .

Mathieu Ganio is certainly a few young, and a nomination during next Sleeping Beauty will be also early and more normal. But it's evident that Mathieu deserves completely POB great Tradition of Manuel Legris, Jean-Guillaume Bart, and so on, the handsome of the dancer :thumbsup: .

In POB, Basilio is not considered as a character part but as true great part with variations and partnership as well Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and so on :blushing: . And all the noble dancer danced this part (Manuel Legris, Jean-Guillaume Bart, and so on).

What is sure it's POB is not Kirov or Royal Ballet, and they don't have the same criters to choose a principal dancer than in other companies :shrug: . We don't forget that Don Quixote is a Nureyev production with a supplementary entry, as well a variation in first act and the windmill pdd and variation :unsure: even the adagio of Grand pas, and the male variation is different of the Petipa's traditionnal version.

Against it's sad for Benjamin Pech, but it's sure that Direction has some secrets that we don't know :shhh:

#14 Estelle

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Posted 25 May 2004 - 07:38 AM

Estelle, thanks for the summary of the article and for your comments.  It's very interesting to learn that Mathieu's nomination was regarded by French ballet public as an extremely exceptional case - even by comparison with similar cases for Legris & Le Riche. 


Well, perhaps part of the problem is that for much of the audience, he still is basically unknown, since he has danced so few roles so far (only two big roles, and almost no soloist roles before). He's the youngest promoted principal since Guillem two decades ago, and even her had been promoted to première danseuse before, and, I think, had been given more roles before being promoted. On the whole, I don't think there has been such a quick promotion since perhaps Michel Renault in 1946 (and I guess there might have been a lack of male principals then, because of the war period), so that's why it just was so unexpected to everybody. even René Sirvin, who isn't exactly known for criticizing the POB direction, finds such a promotion a bit premature. Also it often was said that the reason why Pech had not been promoted yet was just a question of "no available position" (I never understood how all that worked), and now it shows that when the direction wants to promote someone, indeed they can.

But perhaps it's also a question of "habit": people have get used to relatively "slow" promotions, for example the last two promoted male principals, José Martinez and Jean-Guillaume Bart, who weren't exactly untalented dancers, were promoted to premiers danseurs respectively in 1992 and 1996, and to principals in 1997 and 2000 only (actually I think they'd have deserved to be promoted quite earlier in my opinion). Now it will be interesting to see if this is really a change of policy for the direction, and if they will continue to promote young dancers, or if it's just an exceptional decision.

(Well it's not only in France - I've been surprised and almost overwhelmed by great sympathy Japanese POB fans have shown towards M. Peche, in this instance.)    Although the strict hierarchy do exist at POB, a special dancer deserves a special treatment I think - otherwise would it not lead to a reverse-discrimination?  Dancer's age alone doesn't really matter either if you believe ballet world should forever ban a poisonous seniority order!


The problem is that, given the way things seem to work, it means that it's more and more likely that Pech will never get promoted (while Ganio, who was younger, still had "plenty of time" to get promoted a bit later)- I've no idea how much time it will take before another male principal gets promoted, but Pech is about 30 now.

And what is prerequisite to become Etoile? To me key factors seem to be natural talent and a star quality.


I'd also add "to be a role model for the rest of the company", and "to be able to carry a performance on your shoulders", if that makes sense, and some experience might help.

Sounds interesting - I wish I could hear the rumours! 


Well, I can say one of them now, some people were wondering if Gilbert and/ or Thibault might be promoted after their Sunday performance in "Don Quixote", but nothing special happened.

Leigh Witchel wrote:

Alessio Carbone has moved up young and fast; I liked him a great deal. Is he being favored by the direction at all?


I guess Brigitte Lefèvre and Hugues Gall probably are the only ones able to understand what the company policy is... :grinning: Carbone was not cast as Basilio, even though he had been cast at the beginning and had started working that role, but now he's an understudy for James and might get to dance it. So far, it seems to me that he hasn't been any real principal role since his promotion at the end of 2002, he dances mostly some traditional "premier danseurs" roles (like peasant pas de deux, "Swan Lake" pas de trois, and so on). I wonder if his relatively small height might be a disadvantage. However, perhaps he'll get cast a bit more, with Bélingard and Moreau being unfortunately injured.

Françoise, thanks for the precision about Manuel's Legris promotion at 21 and not 22 (I had assumed that it was 22 as he was born in 1964 and promoted in 1986, but I don't know his birth date). But one big difference with Ganio was that he had been a sujet since 1982.


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