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Béjart Ballet Lausanne


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#1 volcanohunter

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 09:20 PM

Here's a video report on the company coinciding with its recent engagement at the Paris Opera.

http://culturebox.fr..._opera-de-paris

#2 Natalia

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 07:33 AM

I'm resurrecting this thread to discuss (if you wish) this company and the dramatically-different feelings about it in different parts of the world. In Europe, Latin America and Japan, the late Maurice Bejart and his various troupes throughout the years have been considered virtually on par with the Bolshoi, NYCB and POB. In the US (and maybe the UK?), it has been shunned and sometimes ridiculed. The rep, of course, was almost-all by Bejart, but it *is* ballet and not 'modern.' Its ballerinas wear pointe shoes. Some of the works I've seen on DVD are beautiful pieces of dance and stagecraft (L'Amour-La Danse and Ballet for Life). The one 'live' viewing of the troupe that I witnessed many years ago in Cairo (world premiere of Pyramide, on the history of Egypt) was terrific, garnering an instant standing-o from the mostly-Egyptian audience.

Perhaps Bejart's reputation in the USA is poor because we simply have not seen his troupe anything other than sleazy little video snippets, such as the Bhakti PDD or the finale of Sacre? Maybe it is 'political'? Or perhaps the only problem in the US is that we've already been spoiled by NYCB and ABT?

I'm guessing that the answer to my query may also serve as answer to why the important 1980s film by Lelouch, Les Uns et les Autres, so successful around the world, barely made an impact in the US. [Bejart's Bolero and star dancer Jorge Donn play prominent 'roles' in that film, by the way.]

#3 Helene

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 09:00 AM

Eifman has been successful and popular in the US, and he doesn't follow the Balanchine aesthetic.

#4 Natalia

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 09:19 AM

I was asking a general question. I don't know the answer and maybe it is due to US audiences being more attuned to the traditional works? Yet, as you say, Eifman seems to be popular (at least in NYC and perhaps other locales with large Russian-expat populations) and certain modern ballet troupes, such as Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, seem to be successful. Here in Lima, one of the local ballet troupes is very keen on Bejart. One of the dancers recently asked me "Why does the USA hate Bejart?" I honestly could not answer his question.

#5 Helene

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 09:31 AM

I think you've put your finger on it with Eifman and his appeal to the Russian expat community: there's no ready-made audience for the Bejart.

To conclude that "the USA" hates Bejart is a bit dramatic, though. I don't think US ballet audiences outside NYC and a few university and arts center venues to which the company has toured have him on their radar.

#6 Natalia

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 09:45 AM

The guy who made the comment had that perception because of bad reviews that Bejart and his troupe received early on (Kisselgoff and others?). This must have been during the 60s/70s 'ballet boom' days. It seemed strange that even the 'intellectuals' in the US didn't care for Bejart, when (from the Peruvian's point of view) the rest of the world loves/loved him.

Funny thing - last year when I was in Milan, an Italian friend asked me the same thing. ("What's the problem with Bejart among Americans?")


Tokyo loves Bejart; not exactly due to a huge Belgian/Franco population there.

re. Eifman making it in certain spots in the USA - yup, that must be it (having a ready-made Russian expat community). That must be why he hasn't even made it to the Kennedy Center or any other theater around DC, that I know. There might be a market in Rockville, MD (big Eastern Euro-Jewish population) but the only proscenium-type theater at a Community College is tiny; the large Strathmore Hall is only a concert hall, without proscenium and curtain. That's Eifman. I don't think that poor Bejart has even 'made it' to the DC area ever, unless the Ballet of the XXth C. played the Kennedy Center in the 70s.

#7 Helene

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 10:00 AM

I don't know who or what is driving ballet aesthetics in Japan.

#8 puppytreats

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 10:07 AM

Didn't Ratmansky say on Works and Process that Bejart had a big following when he was still in Russia?

Did Farrell's relationship with Bejart while in exile from Balanchine have any impact on Bejart's acceptance in the US?

#9 Natalia

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 10:19 AM

Yes, puppytreats. Remember the old joint-collaboration film of Bejart and Kirov dancers (White Nights Pas)? I also remember that the Cubans used to perform Bakhti and maybe other Bejart works. There certainly was a 'political' angle...maybe some American producers thought it was too socialist/Commie for the heartland? I have no idea about the Farrell connection's impact.

Maybe some of BA's Japanese or European members could explain the aesthetic? Bejart was awarded the highest state honors in Japan by Emperor Hirohito in the 1980s, well before he earned similar honors in France and Belgium. (Hirohito was hardly a die-hard communist so we can't say that it's politics there!)

p.s. - Totally unrelated to the big question/discussion of mixed feelings around the globe about Bejart: Former NYCB dancer Aeesha Ash appears in some of the currently-available DVDs of the Bejart Lausanne troupe.

#10 miliosr

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 03:32 PM

"Why does the USA hate Bejart?"

This needs to be broken into two segments:

1) I don't think American dance audiences hate Bejart for the simple reason that it is almost impossible to see his works in this country. With the exceptions of the Paris Opera Ballet performing Bolero on its recent tour of the US, the Alvin Ailey company taking Firebird into its repertory, and Suzanne Farrell programming her old boss' work with her little pickup company, I'm hard-pressed to name another company that has programmed Bejart's work in recent times. I can tell you that the Chicago audiences ate up Bolero at both performances I saw (and this in the face of much tut-tutting from dance critics about the piece.)

2) I do think American dance critics of the 1970s, 1980s and beyond hated/hate Bejart and the reason they hated/hate him is that they were/are extremely Balanchine-centric. Balanchine and Bejart are two very different aesthetics and American dance critics, in their zeal for Balanchine, may have prematurely discounted something that had merit because it was so alien to the Balanchine aesthetic. That attitude may have then percolated through the larger dance ecosystem in the US to the point where company directors and programmers discounted Bejart's work in its entirety.

One theory anyway!

#11 diane

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 12:05 AM

Interesting! I would tend to agree with that theory, and that it has appeared that many overtly "theatrical" dance pieces do not immediately find favour in the USA.
Bejart did many very theatrical works, using many different forms of art, dance and music in his productions.

-d-

#12 Natalia

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 02:59 AM

miliosr and diane, very interesting theory. Thanks. Bad reviews in the 70s meant that the big programmers/producers of the era, such as Sol Hurok, would not sponsor visits. Connect the dots.

#13 miliosr

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 04:13 PM

Interesting! I would tend to agree with that theory, and that it has appeared that many overtly "theatrical" dance pieces do not immediately find favour in the USA.
Bejart did many very theatrical works, using many different forms of art, dance and music in his productions.

-d-

You raise a good point regarding the American suspicion of European approaches to dance and dance theater. This review of the POB's recent tour is illuminating:

http://www.brooklynr...h-disconnection

While the review's title is 'French Disconnection," you could turn the title around to read 'American Disconnection'. The reviewer compares the aesthetics of Balanchine and Cunningham -- favorably -- to the aesthetics of Bausch, Bejart, Lifar and Petit. Now, I think a reasoned case can be made against the dance theater of, say, Pina Bausch and Wayne McGregor; most notably that the lush production values help to conceal a thin dance content.

But a reasoned argument in the other direction would argue that the American devotion to abstract/plotless ballets (w/ minimal costumes and sets) may have resulted in an impasse of sorts. Perhaps a resurveying of the best of European dance might help American ballet to overcome the static place in which it finds itself.

#14 Jayne

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 07:19 PM

honestly I do not know the history or business plan for the Bejart Company. But if they came to Seattle next year, I would definitely buy tickets and ask my friends to come as well.

One reason that Americans often do not know about other dance aesthetics is because most companies simply don't tour the entire USA. The country is so vast that the travel costs are prohibitive and dancers do not want to be away from their families for such a large swath of time. The distance between Seattle and Boston is the same as the distance between Lisbon and Kiev. I know many British rock bands fail to conquer America because the grind of touring 50 states is vastly different than touring the British Isles. The US is simply not as densely packed as Europe.

While about 12 million people live in the greater New York City area, the remaining 296 million Americans do not, and rarely get to see the wealth of dance companies that visit the Big Apple. I hope new ventures with Ballet in Cinema change this for the better, because PBS would prefer to show more reruns of Jackie Evancho, and Bravo only shows Real Housewives instead of artistic endeavors.

Sorry, this is going a little off topic, hopefully the mods don't get too upset. Posted Image

#15 Helene

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 08:37 PM

Arts-wise, if you look at arts tour itineraries, the northern border of the US is the San Francisco Bay Are on route to Asia often,, unless an instrumentalist or singer is on the roster of the Vancouver Recital Society or is the headliner for the UW President's Piano Series. The Symphonies get great musicians, but, unlike in the NY Metro area, where someone performing with the NY Philharmonic might give a recital somewhere in NYC, Long Island, NJ, or Westchester, it's a rarity in Seattle.

Perth, Australia is in the same boat. Both times I've.visited Australia, I've seen posters and ads for the same performers in Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, and other eastern cities, when fewer than a handful made it to Perth.


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