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Daniil

POB Competition 2005

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Hello!

Does anybody know anything about the annual competition taking place in Paris? When does it take place? Any other information?

:wub: in advance

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Daniil, it's today - right now - for the women, tomorrow for the men.

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The results should be up by tonight for the women.

Positions available for them :

2 "Première danseuse"

4 "Sujets"

4 "Coryphées"

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Here's a link to an article about the new premiers danseurs:

http://actu.voila.fr/Depeche/ext--francais...4.0gbnfa16.html

It also lists the promoted male dancers, most notably Stéphane Phavorin as premier danseur. I'm happy for Phavorin, even if a bit surprised as he has been a sujet for more than 10 years and so was not very expected to be promoted (but his career was slowed by several problems of injuries).

Congratulations to all the newly promoted dancers ! I'm a bit sorry for Fanny Fiat, a talented sujet who also deserved to be promoted, but Myriam Ould-Braham and Dorothée Gilbert both are young gifted dancers who already performed quite a lot of important roles and their promotions were somewhat expected. And also I'm looking forward to seeing Laura Hecquet in bigger roles; she had impressed me a lot in Jean-Guillaume Bart's pas de deux "Javotte" a few years ago in a "Young dancers" program.

I haven't seen yet if there is a page about the competition's results on the official POB site (I haven't found it yet, but now I'm on vacation and only have a slow connection so finding things on the POB site isn't very easy).

It was a relatively good year for the POB dancers in terms of positions. (Actually, I feel a bit sorry for some dancers of a previous generation like Nathalie Aubin, Laure Muret, Miteki Kudo or Delphine Baey, who happened to be sujets in a period with very few available positions of premiere danseuse, as I feel they could have been promoted if only they were born a bit earlier or later...)

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This is a shame indeed, Estelle. And don't you think this might well happen again in the coming years ? Nathalie Riqué is the only première danseuse who retire really soon, and with the latest promotions, there are 10 premières danseuses. Among the étoiles, it's going to be a good 5 years before Delphine Moussin, the oldest one, retires, if nobody gets injured or chooses an early retirement. I find it a bit worrying for the ladies, because there will be few positions available...

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Might someone enlighten me on the "competition" aspect of what's going on there? Is this only for POB dancers and are they competing for promotions. How often do they hold this competition?

THanks

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Yes, jllaney it is a competition only for POB dancers which is held each year in december.

The dancers are competing for some better positions in the POB's hierarchy and the winners are promoted to the next level. The number of slots available for each level varies from year to year and from level to level.

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I just add that this competition is reserved to the "quadrilles" (lowest rank), "coryphées" and "sujets" (equivalent of second or first solist) until they reach the rank of "premier danseur" ("première danseuse" for the girls, i.e. first solist or principal). The "étoiles" are nominated by the management.

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Results for the men:

Stéphane Phavorin: promoted to Premier Danseur

Yong-Geol Kim: promoted to Sujet

Adrien Bodet, Audric Bezard, Mathias Heymann: promoted to Coryphée

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I would love to kinow how these "competitions" are organized. Does this literally mean that there is an auditioning process? If so -- how is it organized? what are the candidates expected to dance? who does the judging?

Thanks in advance.

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All the dancers of the same rank present a common variation chosen by the management. For example, this year:

- QUADRILLES

Female variation: Kitri's vision in "Don Quixote" Act II (chor. Nureyev)

Male Variation: Basilio variation in "Don Quixote" Act III (chor. Nureyev)

- CORYPHEES

Female variation: "Raymonda", Pizzicatti variation (chor. Nureyev)

Male Variation: "Suite en blanc", Mazurka (chor. Lifar)

- SUJETS

Female variation: "Romeo and Juliet", Juliet 1st variation (chor. Nureyev)

Male variation: "Manon", Des Grieux variation (chor. MacMillan)

And second, they dance a free variation taken from the Paris Opera Ballet repertoire. So it can be classical, neo-classical or contemporary. Robbins ("Other dances", "Four Seasons"), Roland Petit for instance are often chosen by the candidates.

They are judged by a jury composed of the Director of the Opera (Mr Gérard Mortier), the Director of the Ballet (Mrs Brigitte Lefèvre), the ballet master (Mr Patrice Bart), two other personalities (one comes from another company) and five dancers from the company elected (it changes each year).

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Thank you so much, sophia. This seems so well thought out. Quite a challenge for the dancers -- and a wonderful opportunity for those able to observe from the audience.

I wonder whether any other companies base promotions on a similar organized and highly rational (and, it seems, highly "French") manner.

And I wonder what other BT'ers think about this system as compared to the way dancers in companies are promoted (or not).

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As far as I am concerned, I think this system of promotion is very far from perfection. Since Gérard Mortier became the director of the Opera (2004), I must confess that the competition is much more "honest": it means that the results of it, and consequently the promotions, correspond to the performances seen on stage the day of the "concours". You will always find some disappointed people of course, but the results are quite fair. It has not always been the case in the past!

Moreover, I also think that this system is very "french": you have, just like at the time of Louis XIV, -the King who created the Royal Academy of Music, the ancestor of our ballet-, to "please the Prince". Why not, but ideally, has it anything to do with dancing?

Dancers should be judged on performances the whole year long, and then be promoted.

Anyway, this is our system, our tradition, and I respect it despite these critics. Nureyev, when he was the Director of the Ballet, wanted to delete the "concours", but the dancers went on strike to preserve it!!!!

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Here are some links to the results of the previous competitions (2004, 2003, 2002 and 2001):

http://ballettalk.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=18179

http://ballettalk.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=15274

http://ballettalk.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=8741

http://ballettalk.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=4072

It always is a somewhat heated topic...

sophia, I this that this system is very "French" also because a lot of things depend on competitions in the French society (e.g. to have a civil servant job, to get into the most prestigious schools, etc.) Except that of course it is a very special kind of competition, as it is not anonymous and the judging is more subjective than for, say, a competition to get a teaching job.

In my opinion, the negative sides of the competition are:

- it often isn't objective, as the company's direction has a very heavy weight in the ranking, and there often has been questionable decisions (e.g. some years two positions of premiere danseuse were open and only one was filled, which seemed to mean than nobody was good enough, but some of the dancers who competed then were promoted on the following years...) But I guess it's a problem with every mode of promotion, anyway.

- being injured on the day of the competition means no promotion for one year, so it can slower the career of a good dancer who has the bad luck to be injured just at the wrong moment

- probably a lot of stress for all the dancers, especially as the competition generally is at the end of December, in the middle of long series of performances (on the very evening of the competition, there were performances of "Swan Lake" in Garnier and "La petite danseuse de Degas" in Bastille)

and its positive sides are:

- it forces the dancers to keep a good enough shape to be able to participate in the competition (however, now the participation isn't compulsory. But not participating in the competition would be seen quite badly from the direction, at least for dancers young enough)

- it can be an opportunity for them to perform some variations which haven't been danced for a while by the company (e.g. some dancers regulary choose variations by Lifar, while Lifar has been sadly absent from the company's performances for years)

- it gives them some opportunities to perform soloist variations on stage, and to show what they can do

And indeed, as sophia wrote, the dancers themselves insisted on keeping the competition when Nureyev wanted to suppress it, so even though they often criticize it a lot, a majority do want to keep that typical POB tradition.

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As a side note: it seems to me that the promotion system has changed quite a lot at the POB in recent years in terms of age. For example, two of the recently promoted étoiles (Wilfried Romoli and Delphine Moussin) were, as far as I know, the oldest new étoiles in the POB history (more than 40 for Romoli, and about 36 or 37 for Moussin). Also, people used to say that when a dancer had been in a category for several years, s/he was very unlikely to get promoted, and that promotions after 30 were almost impossible, especially for women, but Emmanuel Thibault was promoted to premier danseur at 30 after about a decade as sujet, Isabelle Ciaravola was promoted to première danseuse as about 32- and now Stéphane Phavorin has just been promoted to premier danseur as 34, and Céline Palacio to coryphée at 33 (her first promotion since she joined the company in 1989 !) The direction of the dance hasn't changed (Brigitte Lefèvre as director of dance and Patrice Bart as main ballet master) but the direction of the opera has changed (from Hugues Gall to Gérard Mortier) and I don't know if it has had an influence, and if Mortier perhaps wanted to promote some people he considered as unjustly forgotten by the previous direction (on the other hand, from his interviews, Mortier doesn't pay much attention to ballet and always said he gave all power to Brigitte Lefèvre...)

Also a difference with the situation some years ago is that the number of premiers danseurs and premières danseuses has inflated a lot. There are as many as 9 premières danseuses (Abbagnato (27), Ciaravola (33), Cozette (24), Daniel (31), Gilbert (22), Hurel (30), Ould-Braham (23), Riqué (40), Romberg (30)) and 7 premiers danseurs (Bélingard (30), Bridard (34), Carbone (27), Moreau (28), Paquette (28), Phavorin (34) and Thibault (30 or 31)), which is much more than it used to be (and there now are 6 female étoiles (Dupont (32), Gillot (30), Letestu (34), Moussin (36 or 37), Osta (35), Pujol (30)) and 8 male étoiles (Bart (33), Belarbi (43), Ganio (21), Legris (41), Le Riche (33), Martinez (36), Pech (31) and Romoli). But I've never understood how the number of positions of étoiles and premiers danseurs is calculated...

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An article (in French) by René Sirvin in "Le Figaro" about the competition:

http://www.lefigaro.fr/culture/20051226.FIG0156.html?081153

In general, the Figaro articles remain online only for a short time.

René Sirvin sounds happy with most of the results of the competition, and also praises among the male sujets Christophe Duquenne, Gil Isoart and Nicolas Paul, and among the male coryphées Grégory Gaillard and Sébastien Bertaud (for him, Bertaud's raking as 6th is unfair).

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Thank you, sophia and Estelle for explaining the system to us.

I think it is interesting and positive that the dancers have the formal opportunity to choose a variation of their own from the repertoire, because it allows them to select something from a genre in which they are normally not cast.

At NYCB there was an informal way to do this. In a seminar at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the late 80's, Maria Calegari described how after Balanchine had been ignoring her after a bright period early in her career, she prepared the role of Dewdrop, made an appointment with him in the studio, and performed it for him. She said he then cast her in the role, and it rekindled his interest in her as a dancer. Merrill Ashley said in her book Dancing for Balanchine that when other choreographers set pieces on NYCB dancers, Balanchine saw them in a different light. She attributed her role in Jacques d'Amboise's Saltarelli to Balanchine's interest in her as an allegro dancer.

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Thanks indeed, Sophia and Estelle. It would be interesting to be a fly on the wall while the judges are discussing the performances and making (nor not making) their choices.

That informal audition by Calegari (with one-man jury) is an interesting story, helene, though hugely different from the POB system. Thanks for posting it.

I wonder whether any companies follow the idea of a formal juried competition, or if POB is unique in this.

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The direction of the dance hasn't changed (Brigitte Lefèvre as director of dance and Patrice Bart as main ballet master) but the direction of the opera has changed (from Hugues Gall to Gérard Mortier) and I don't know if it has had an influence, and if Mortier perhaps wanted to promote some people he considered as unjustly forgotten by the previous direction (on the other hand, from his interviews, Mortier doesn't pay much attention to ballet and always said he gave all power to Brigitte Lefèvre...)

Thanks Estelle for all your comments.

When Gérard Mortier said that he didn't pay much attention to ballet and that it was the matter of Brigitte Lefèvre, I think it's nothing but rhetoric... I often go to the ballet, and Mr Mortier is also often in the audience... Discreet, but there. And his policy is partly based upon communication!

Of course, I don't think he really interferes in the ballet casts, and Brigitte Lefèvre certainly has much power in the ballet decisions, but I am absolutely certain that the policy of promotions is totally different from what it was before. It means that he took a part in the last promotions and thanks to him some "old" dancers were promoted. Personally, I don't regret the time when two or three months before the competition you could write down the list of the promoted dancers without any risk of being mistaken... I am not a fan of Mortier, but on that particular point, things are much better. The good point is that dancers now are more hopeful as age is no longer a problem and as they know that their promotion is not only due to a beautiful and young face. Just see, for instance, Mr Thibault and Phavorin promotions as premiers danseurs, not to talk about the étoiles...

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Thanks for your comments, sophia. Since I haven't seen any POB performance in a while (alas) I didn't know that Mr Mortier often was in the audience... so probably one shouldn't trust too much what he said to the press.

The POB now has officially announced the results of the competition on its web site:

http://www.operadeparis.fr/Accueil/ALire.asp

The list also includes the dancers' ages.

The only thing that worries me a little bit about the competition's results is the age of some of the promoted male dancers (the new premier danseur is 34 and the new sujet is 32). I'm really happy about Phavorin's promotion, as he's a very talented dancer, but he should have been promoted years ago, and he seems unlikely to be promoted to étoile someday. And his most serious competitor was Christophe Duquenne, who has the same age (again, a strong and reliable dancer who probably should have been promoted years ago). Among the present premiers danseurs, the only ones under 30 are Karl Paquette (and except if he's improved a lot since I last saw him, I really don't see him as a potential étoile), Hervé Moreau and Alessio Carbone, and one might wonder about whom the next male étoiles will be, especially as three of the present étoiles are over 40 (Legris, Belarbi and Romoli) and perform fewer and fewer roles.

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I'm really happy about Phavorin's promotion, as he's a very talented dancer, but he should have been promoted years ago, and he seems unlikely to be promoted to étoile someday. And his most serious competitor was Christophe Duquenne, who has the same age (again, a strong and reliable dancer who probably should have been promoted years ago).

You are absolutely right: all these people should have been promoted earlier, just like Emmanuel Thibault who spent more than ten years as a sujet or Delphine Moussin who became an etoile at the age of 35 (maybe 36) while she had been casted as an étoile for years and years!!! But there has been an irrational policy of promotions, I think most people and especially dancers agree on that point...

For me, age is not a problem, I know there's an age limit (42,5) but all the "old" dancers I see remain brilliant. I saw Laurent Hilaire as Rothbart the other day, I also saw him as Tybalt, of course he can't dance Siegfried or Romeo any longer, but in these particular roles, he remains the best! And in a normal world, 30 years old should not be old even for the dancers.

Just a precision: I think people like Moreau, Paquette, Carbone, Bélingard are more or less about 28-30.

The problem is maybe elsewhere: I went to see the ballets and the different casts all year long, I also went to see the "concours" and honestly, I find a lack of personalities in the younger generation. Perhaps I'm wrong, but it's my impression :lightbulb: .

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Well, about an eventual lack of personality of the younger generation, I don't think they're encouraged to show what they can really do. But some of them, especially the youngest ones, have some very strong personalities, and if they were quite tense during the competition, I'm sure they will show us what they can do very soon if they're given some opportunies, maybe in the Young Dancers bills ?

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Yes, the Young Dancers Bills were a very good programm, but unfortunately, this year, one more time, nothing is foreseen. I have not seen the Young Dancers Bill for three years, if I remember.

Certainly, young dancers (and less young ones too) are not given real opportunities to show what they can do. The casts are often very disappointing because we always see the same dancers in the main roles. Of course, it's normal that an étoile gets the main role in "Swan Lake", "La Bayadère", "Romeo and Juliet" and so on, but sometimes, balletgoers would like to see some "sujets", maybe some "coryphées" in a main role even if it's just for one performance. It's interesting for the audience and a real challenge for the dancers, they are encouraged to work and they keep hopeful...

Recently, I saw Emilie Cozette as Odette / Odile, of course she is a "première danseuse", so it's a normal fact of being casted for such a role when you have this rank, but people were really very enthusiastic, because it changed from the other nights and she made a brilliant performance. Choreographers who are invited by the Opera do not care about the hierarchy and they cast who they like. Pina Bausch, for instance, chose for the third cast Charlotte Ranson (quadrille at that time, now a coryphée) as "Love", and Alice Renavand (coryphée at that time, now a sujet) as "Eurydice" (and she was so wonderful!) in "Orphée et Eurydice".

For the youngest, it's difficult to have a firm judgement, things can change... I just talked about an "impression" and obviously, I may be wrong. Anyway, I don't want to make any comments about the demonstrations. In the corps de ballet, one of the youngest, maybe the youngest, Aubane Philbert, has certainly something very very interesting, a lyricism, a very good technique too (she chose "Grand Pas classique" for her free variation at the concours), and I know that the competition (she was very tense) did not reflect what she can really do.

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Aubane is the very youngest of the POB's corps, she's turned 17 in november. Her choice for her second variation was a very difficult one and yes actually she was very tense and didn't show us what she can do. But she has an enormous potential and is a very-well rounded and delightful young lady with a strong temper. I really hope she'll blossom in the next few years if the POB let her become what she can be.

And Mathias Heynman, 18, who by the way was luckier than Aubane, is a one to watch, too

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