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POB "Paquita" - What is the deal?


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#1 Solor

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Posted 13 August 2005 - 05:50 PM

I just bought the POB's "Paquita": Lacotte's reconstruction. Of all the ballets that Lacotte could have restored, its beyond me why he chose this one. Why not "La Esmerelda"? Why not "Le Corsaire"? The sets were really drab and the costumes were nothing special. The Grand Pas had only two variations. Lacotte ommitted the traditional variation for Paquita (composed by Drigo I think), along with the variations for the ballerina soloists.

I was shocked by the style and technique of the ballerinas in this performance. The two ladies that danced the famous Pas de Trois really suprised me. Thier dancing was so 'plain jane' and techniacally un-remarkable for a professional, world class company such as the Paris Opera Ballet. The leading danseuse in the role of "Paquita" was another suprise, with a poor performance that had absolutly no style and awful technique - I mean she was really bad - I have had students in the intermediate level that were better than this lady - and she holds the rank of Etoile! I was shocked that such dancers were actually put on the stage of the Grand Opera! On the other hand the male dancers were all good and well trained, though they aint' from ABT or the Mariinksy......

So what gives? For those who have viewed this film as well, do you see what I'm talking about? Why are the ballerinas of the Paris Opera Ballet looking like this these days?

#2 Paul Parish

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Posted 13 August 2005 - 06:14 PM

Well, Solor, I THINK I know what you mean -- since I thought Fanny Gaida (sp?) was about as dull as she could be -- as Nikiya when the POB came here a couple of years ago -- indeed, the dancer playing Gamzatti was so much more interesting, I found it hard not to pull for her.... Manuel Legris, on the other hand, was noble, unaffected, magnificent.

Which dancers did you see on this DVD?

Generally, I find their men elegant, strong, beautiful, but the women are so weak in the center that they can't control their effects.

As for Lacotte's choreography, I am not impressed by it in the Sylphide movie, though his staging is fine. Ghislaine Thesmar's performance, on the other hand, is really amazing.

#3 Solor

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Posted 13 August 2005 - 10:27 PM

The danseuse in the role of Paquita is Agnes Letestu. Tha dancers in the pas de trois are not credited.

I do beleive that a dancer can be strong at the barre and weak in the center, and these ballerinas had that look to their dancing.

#4 chrisk217

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Posted 14 August 2005 - 01:29 AM

The 2 female dancers of the pas de trois are Nolwenn Daniel and Melanie Hurel. And Solor, I agree, they appear very unremarkable. The male dancer is Emmanuel Thibaut.

For me, the measure of the failure of this performance is how much the unstrainned musicality of Emmanuel Thibaut's dancing stands out from everybody else. The moment he starts his first pas de trois variation you think: "now, that's dancing :cool: " Too bad his variations last a total of 3 minutes... they feel like the high point of the disk.

What bothered me most with Letestu here is that her shoulders and upper back seemed to be set in stone and had little or no relation to what the rest of her body was doing. That makes for some very bland and boring dancing. I was expecting more as she was a very good 1rst shade in the Bayadere DVD.

In the POB's and the dancer's defence, I think Aurelie Dupont and Manuel Legris were supposed to film this but withdrew due to injury. Letestu and Martinez are the second (or even third, not sure) cast.

I thought the costumes were good (especially up close: great embroidery, many fine details) and the sets also good, if somewhat sparce. But, yes, considering everything (choreography, performance etc) this was disappointing, not one of the better POB dvds.

#5 Estelle

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Posted 15 August 2005 - 03:30 AM

In the POB's and the dancer's defence, I think Aurelie Dupont and Manuel Legris were supposed to film this but withdrew due to injury. Letestu and Martinez are the second (or even third, not sure) cast.


Dupont was supposed to premiere the ballet but was injured, and it was Clairemarie Osta who danced the Paris premiere (a bright performance from what I was told, but she and Legris seldom are paired together, I don't know why). But I don't know who was supposed to be filmed in that work (sometimes the casting policy of the POB for films is a bit diffigult to understand...) During its first season, there were a lot of injuries, and last-minute cast changes almost every night. But I don't know when the DVD was filmed (actually I didn't see it) and also I seem to remember reading that the last act was shortened after its first season (some variations being suppressed- I don't know why) but am not sure.

I saw that Paquita with Marie-Agnès Gillot and José Martinez during its first season (if I remember correctly, it was in 2001) and enjoyed it very much (and I really liked the costumes too)- especially considering that for once Ms Lefèvre had chosen to show a classical work, instead of the umpteenth half-baked modern work using one tenth of the corps de ballet and never to be seen again on the POB stage (I don't object the POB performing some modern dance works, but many of the works created for them in the last decade were very dull and uninteresting in my opinion). And actually it was very successful with the POB audience.

Paul, I'm sorry you had such a poor opinion of Fanny Gaïda. The tour probably was a few years ago as, if I remember correctly, she turned 40 in 2001 and retired then. Did you see her in some other roles ? She never was famous for her technique, but I really liked her sensitiveness in some Roland Petit and Jerome Robbins roles, for example.

#6 Solor

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Posted 15 August 2005 - 04:41 AM

Estelle - The performance on the DVD of the POB's "Paquita" was Jauary 2003.

I mostly got this DVD because I am really into reconstructions, especially those that were made by, (or made to last by) Petipa. I wish that more of them were around......I hope that the "powers that be" (as far as resurrecting these great works from the dead goes) re-create some of the REALLY big Grand Ballets of Petipa's time: such as "La Esmeralda", "Le Corsaire" (Petipa's final revivals of course!), "The Stars", "Le Talisman", even "Don Quixote"! - nothing beats a 19th century ballet with a shmoltzy ballet score by the likes of Pugni, Minkus or Drigo (Drigo being the better of the three however)!

#7 puppytreats

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 09:45 AM

I cannot give enough praise for the leading men in the POB performance of "Paquita". Martinez and Thibault were fantastic (although Martinez was weak in a few lifts at the very end, when he was apparently tired, and Letestu is so tall). I liked Letestu, but she seemed to tire in the end, too. Are tall women usually cast in this ballet? I did not imagine her in the role.

The music, on the other hand, is hard to listen to, since it is so repetitive and not very pretty.

I liked the costumes and set, contrary to some opinions listed on these boards. I always love the detail in POB costumes.

The structure of the ballet seemed unusual, and a bit crowded. Maybe this is due to the interpolations discussed here.

#8 esperanto

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 12:05 AM

.Solar, you wrote: Of all the ballets that Lacotte could have restored, its beyond me why he chose this one. Why not "La Esmerelda"? Why not "Le Corsaire"?



The Bolshoi has a restored, or reconstructed Esmerelda. And I there's a Corsaire done by Ratmansky. I too wish other companies would restore old ballets.

Lacotte's Pharoah's Daughter is excellent I thought. I don't understand why people have criticized him for it.
As for the POB Sylphide even though the new production has a lot of good dancing and "magic" give me the Bournonville version any time.

#9 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 03:31 PM

I love Lacotte's Sylphide...

#10 Kerry1968

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 11:08 PM

The POB costumes are great! The fabrics look brocaded. The sets, on the other hand...the main colors seem to be grey and brown.The ballroom at d'Hervilly's palace looks like a subterranean dungeon. Not cheery at all.

#11 Birdsall

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 05:12 AM

Isn't most of the original choreography for Paquita lost? I thought just the Grand Pas and children's mazurka were the only pieces that are original. Everything else Lacotte had to choreograph on his own in the style of the time. I could be totally wrong. If someone knows more about Paquita, please inform us!

#12 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 08:24 AM

I always believed the choreography of everything but the Grand Pas and Mazurka des Enfants to be lost, but then I also wonder if there's was something else notated from other acts. If anything, the Bolshoi only chose to reconstruct the last Act. It is known that Lacotte had Mme.Egorova at one point nearby to give him some sort of help on what she remembered-(at least for his Sylphide), so maybe there was some verbal knowledge of some sort passed on Paquita as well...?

#13 Nanarina

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 06:29 AM

There are some clips from Paquita of Aurelie Dupont, on YouTube, which are very much better than the film featuring Agnes Letestu,
she is my preferred ballerina , together with the recently nominated Ludmila Pagliero. I too was rather disapointed in this DVD, But as already mentioned it should have been Aurelie Dupont, who had to withdraw due to injury. Pierre Lacotte put a lot of work into researching this ballet, and he explains his findings in the "extra's" on the DVD.


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