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Fred Wiseman's New Documentary of The Paris Opera BalletWill Be Available on DVD


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#46 Amy Reusch

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Posted 12 November 2009 - 08:57 AM

Dance Actress - Could you give a rundown of who was dancing what? Or who the choreographers were? Once again I had to leave before credits ran...(I had children with me and we had a 3.5 hour drive ahead of us). I see names of choreographers but not who choreographed what. I'm embarrassed to say how ignorant I am, but would love to know who was who... I gather the foot thing at the Bastille was Sasha Waltz, who was the choreographer discussing casting? Who was the choreographer chanting Indian rhythms? Who were the old coaches?

I took my 11 yo & her 12 yo friend... to the films credit they wanted to stay through to the end...

I amend my statement that the film just ends... it ends with some absolutely incredible dancing, but it's a solo... for some reason I expected something with a full cast for the end...

Also, now I understand that the young girl meeting with Lefevre was probably replacing the older dancer in the pas de trois she wanted to drop. I could have sworn the older dancer said she was having trouble with pointe and jumps in her interview, but didn't hear it go by this time.

What was the strike Lefevre was talking about?

NY Susan... I totally agree with you. We went @ 5:30 yesterday and the line for people already holding tickets was out the door... a half hour before the film started!

Every seat has a full view of the screen, of course, but if you expect to find two seats next to each other, do not arrive 10 minutes before screen time!

#47 DanceActress

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Posted 12 November 2009 - 08:31 PM

Amy Reusch,
I'll do my best! Here are the ballets, the dancers, choreographers and coaches that I recognized in no particular order:

"Paquita"- in the studio, the principals were Agnes Letestu and Herve Moreau, coached by Pierre Lacotte and Ghislaine Thesmar (the older couple- I believe they're married- he mentioned Suzanne Farrell's flaws)
- onstage and in costume, the principals were Dorothee Gilbert and Manuel Legris dancing the Grand Pas
Classique
- onstage and in costume, Marie-Agnes Gillot delivers superb fouettes
- the male dancer in the Pas de Trois was Matthias Heymann
- two of the female dancers in the Grand Pas were Fanny Fiat and Muriel Zusperreguy

"Casse-Noisette"- in the studio, the principals were Laetitia Pujol and Jose Martinez, coached by Florence Clerc (I think) and
Patrice Bart in separate scenes
- Nicolas Le Riche dances his Act II solo in the studio
- there was a group rehearsal of the Clara/Cavalier Act II Pas de Deux- I glimpsed Manuel Legris, Dorothee
Gilbert, Nicolas Le Riche, Laetitia Pujol, Karl Paquette, etc. - Laurent Hilaire and Elisabeth
Maurin were the coaches
- onstage and half in costume, the principals were Laetitia Pujol and Nicolas Le Riche

"Romeo et Juliette"-choreographer, Sasha Waltz
-onstage and barefoot, Aurelie Dupont and Herve Moreau

"Medee"-choreographer, Angelin Preljocaj
- in the studio, Emilie Cozette danced the title role, coached by Laurent Hilaire
- in the studio and onstage, Delphine Moussin danced the title role
- Wilfried Romoli dances Jason

"Genus"- choreographer, Wayne McGregor (bald and Scottish, I think)
- in the studio, Matthias Heymann and Mathieu Ganio, later Marie-Agnes Gillot and Benjamin Pech
- onstage in black leotards, Matthias Heymann and Myriam Ould-Braham, Jeremie Belingard, and towards the end
of the film, Agnes Letestu and Mathieu Ganio

"The House of Bernarda Alba"- choreographer, Mats Ek
- onstage and in costume, Manuel Legris was Bernarda Alba, and amongst the women, I recognized Marie-Agnes
Gillot and Laetitia Pujol

I'm pretty certain I've left out a lot of people, so the above is verrry rough! I wish Mr. Wiseman had identified people! I would have hated to see this film not knowing anything about the dancers, the repertoire, and the hierarchy.

Does anyone know who the choreographer was discussing casting with Brigitte Lefevre? And was Stephane Bullion dancing McGregor's piece? I'm sure I saw him...

#48 Amy Reusch

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Posted 12 November 2009 - 08:45 PM

Thank you SO MUCH!!! I wondered if that might be a House of Bernard Alba and a Romeo & Juliet! So that's Wayne McGregor! I liked the costumes for Genus...

Was it Matthias Heyman who did the effortless batterie then? Though there were many examples of superb dancing.

Do you remember the waltzing ballroom ballet? What was that?

I don't mind there not being text onscreen identifying people & choreography, because I understand that would change the way we saw the movie... this was much more dream-like or silent observer... I'm not sure exactly how to describe why, but I do think identifying would change the experience... but it would have been nice at the end to give a quick rundown with images during the credits... BUT I wasn't free to wait & watch the credits, so for all I know everything WAS identified there...

It would be nice if it were an option on the DVD.

#49 DanceActress

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Posted 12 November 2009 - 08:56 PM

I believe that that was Heymann with the effortless batterie. Laurent Hilaire comments off-camera on his technique during the Paquita pas de trois- "indecently easy", is how he put it, I think. Although I also remember my jaw dropping for Le Riche and Martinez during the Nutcracker variation.

The waltz scene is from "Paquita".

You're right- the uniquely voyeuristic quality of this film would be lost if captions were added. I stayed for part of the credits and it just looked like a general list of the company by rank. So I don't think you missed much in terms of clearer identification of the featured dancers, choreographers, etc.

#50 Amy Reusch

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Posted 12 November 2009 - 09:07 PM

Oh! I've never seen anything but the last Act of Paquita, so the Paris Opera does the whole thing?

Oh! I see! Lacotte made one of his revivals... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paquita

Does it exist on film?

I like the photo of Fokine in it: http://en.wikipedia....-circa_1905.JPG

#51 DanceActress

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Posted 12 November 2009 - 09:18 PM

Yes, it's Lacotte's reconstruction. I attended a performance of "Paquita" during the season that Wiseman filmed "La Danse" with Dorothee Gilbert and Manuel Legris. I was sitting in the orchestra and I looked around. I realized that Pierre Lacotte and Laurent Hilaire were seated directly in front of me and Elisabeth Maurin was to my right :)


The Paris Opera released a DVD a few years back of their complete "Paquita" with Agnes Letestu and Jose Martinez as the leads. I don't really care for either of them, but Emmanuel Thibault dances the Pas de Trois and he is worth the price of the DVD!

#52 cinnamonswirl

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Posted 13 November 2009 - 07:38 AM

I haven't see the film yet (it opens Thanksgiving weekend here), but the strike that took place during filming was about pensions for public employees http://www.timesonli...icle2910929.ece

#53 Amy Reusch

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Posted 13 November 2009 - 07:58 AM

Thank you for the link! That article was an interesting story of it's own, regardless of the connection to La Danse! Imagine having to perform one's first Nutcracker in casual clothes and minimal lighting to a half empty house! If not before, she deserved promotion from that alone!

I didn't realize the dancers have a permanent contract until age 40-42... I always wondered what happened to those who didn't do well at the annual exams... would one get a pension if one was let go before age 40? Now I understand!

#54 James

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Posted 13 November 2009 - 08:22 AM

I didn't realize the dancers have a permanent contract until age 40-42... I always wondered what happened to those who didn't do well at the annual exams... would one get a pension if one was let go before age 40? Now I understand!

In Nils Tavernier documentary "L'étoile" I remember it was said that retirement age for dancers at POB was 40 for women and 45 for men.

#55 sandik

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Posted 13 November 2009 - 08:50 AM

No one is ever seen dissing the Nureyev repertoire… His work looks so full of steps, so difficult, often too busy, as if he choreographed it to a slower tempo in his imagination...


I think you've really put your finger on it here!

#56 Amy Reusch

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Posted 13 November 2009 - 10:37 AM

Interestingly enough, when they rehearse the Sugarplum variation, it's slower than I've ever heard it! (But beautiful dancing and the nuances would be lost at higher speed). I don't, know though, it might have only been slow for rehearsal purposes.

#57 volcanohunter

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Posted 13 November 2009 - 12:12 PM

In Nils Tavernier documentary "L'étoile" I remember it was said that retirement age for dancers at POB was 40 for women and 45 for men.

Hasn't this since been changed to 42.5 years for both men and women? Manuel Legris and Wilfried Romoli retired under the old scheme because they were still entitled to do so.

#58 Nanarina

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Posted 14 November 2009 - 06:22 AM

Interestingly enough, when they rehearse the Sugarplum variation, it's slower than I've ever heard it! (But beautiful dancing and the nuances would be lost at higher speed). I don't, know though, it might have only been slow for rehearsal purposes.


I have noticed on a number of occasions and with different ballets the Paris Opera often seem to dance at a slower tempo. Whether it is down to the conductor or the actual dancers themselves who request the changes I am not sure. I know for a fact the conductor can change the speed on a whim. Terance Lovett was a real nightmare at the Royal, wheras Ashley Lawrence was reliable.

#59 Nanarina

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Posted 14 November 2009 - 06:38 AM

In Nils Tavernier documentary "L'étoile" I remember it was said that retirement age for dancers at POB was 40 for women and 45 for men.

Hasn't this since been changed to 42.5 years for both men and women? Manuel Legris and Wilfried Romoli retired under the old scheme because they were still entitled to do so.


Madame Brid. Lefv. said in the film, when discussing contracts, that the official agne of retirement for the dancers was 40.but they could continue after if they wish. It seems they can officially leave at 40, but return as a guest artist up to 42 in Paris. She mentioned the difficulties that had arisen due to the difference in the age of retirement in general.

#60 Nanarina

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Posted 14 November 2009 - 07:36 AM

No one is ever seen dissing the Nureyev repertoire… His work looks so full of steps, so difficult, often too busy, as if he choreographed it to a slower tempo in his imagination...


I think you've really put your finger on it here!


Yes and this is also what the POB dancers say about his choreography, Aurelie Dupont calls it "fighting with the ghost".in an interview she gave when the company went to Ausdtralia in 2009.


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