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POB Headed to NYC in 2012

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Brief AFP feature on the New York leg of the tour, including interviews with Aurélie Dupont and Brigitte Lefevre, and clips from Suite en blanc and Dupont in Bolero:

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Just back to DC from a quick trip to NYC, to see Sunday's matinee of the 'French Masterworks' triple bill. For me, this 3ple bill was more felicitious than my Giselle experience in DC, as these are purely 'POB Works' that are rarely danced by other companies (except for Bejart's Bolero, which is rarely seen in the USA), so there was very little with which to compare what I saw yesterday.

How can I sum it up? There was a whole lot of French Cheese and Corn on that stage yesterday...but it was FUN!

Suite en Blanc, which I had seen only once before, in Paris ca 1996, is one of my Big Guilty Pleasures. It's a fantasy on the Art of Ballet at its most glamorous, reminding me very much of the Grand Defile that POB occasionally performs - lots of white tutus and tiaras for the girls and puffy white blousons/black tights for the guys, against a black backdrop. The magnificent variations kept coming, one after the other. I especially loved Dorothee Gilbert in the final solo, 'La Flute,' full of glamour, musicality, balance, extraordinary control. She is THE female Etoile of this tour, bar none...had the best Giselle in DC, accoding to my sources who attended the final Sunday matinee at the KennCen. Back to Suite. I also admired Alice Renavand in the brisk Pas de Cinq with four men; I can well imagine her as a great Kitri someday! Kudos, too, to Mathieu Ganio for a gorgeous solo Mazurka. The corps was magnificent - impeccable. [Disappointment: Marie-Agnes Gillot's forced 'La Cigarette.' Also, Lifar's silly port de bras for the corps..what was up with those 'flamenco arms' as if holding castanets, one curved arm up and the other curved behind the dancer...straight from Chabukiani's Laurencia?]

The unquestionable 'dud' of the afternoon was L'Arlesienne, despite some nice dancing by the leads, Isabelle Ciaravola and Benjamin Pech. After seeing Wheeldon's gorgeously sensitive choreography to the same music earlier this year (NYCB's 'Les Carillons'), I could barely stand to watch the trite doings and silly shufflings by the POB corps in the Roland Petit work. As someone else wrote a few posts above, about an earlier show, I couldn't wait to see the guy jump out the window in the end! To sum-up L'Arlesienne: The big VanGogh-like painting in the background may have depicted wheat...but there was nothing but corn in front of it. Nuf said.

Thank goodness that a 'saving grace' followed all of this corn. Bejart's masterpiece, Bolero, is one of those works that does not translate well to film. Bolero must be seen live, from a high seat (3rd or 4th tier, center). It was performed in all of its glory: 50 corps men (all from POB, I wonder?) sitting on the periphery of the stage, watching a solo woman dancing on a huge round orange table -- today, a surprising Aurelie Dupont, more admirable than at the sorry Giselle that I witnessed in DC last week. The final explosion at the end, with the corps men running to the girl in the circle and collapsing around her, was spectacular. Audience, including myself, went wild! The "BRAVIS!!!" went on forever...and so well deserved. 'Boo' to the Kennedy Center for not having presented this program last week.

p.s. about Bolero: When I last saw this live, over 20 yrs ago in Cairo, with the Bejart troupe -- in the 'all male' edition -- there seemed to be fewer corps and the men were sitting closer to the table, in a circular format, rather than forming a big square close against the wings, backdrop, etc. I even remember all of the men pounding the sides of the circular table as the man atop the platform bopped on and on. So different from yesterday.

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Today's NY Times offers a very insightful review of Dupont's Giselle, and the differences between the way the Parisians perform Giselle and the way others perform it. Of the 3 Giselles I saw over the weekend, Dupont's was the most aloof. The other two Giselles were more dramatically adept. I thought all of the men were very, very good. LeRiche was the most touching of the three men. M.A. Gillot was an excellent Myrta. I much prefer the renditions performed by ABT and the Mariinsky. None of these POB performances have come close to some of the wonderful performances I have seen at ABT and the Mariinsky (in DC). Here is the link to the article

http://www.nytimes.c...r.html?ref=arts

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Very occasionally I'd get a whiff of the perfume that is Paris...

I'm currently intoxicated with the scent, in a sublime way that is...

nuff said...back to reality.

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Cubanmiamiboy, it's interesting that you chose this time to be in Paris...while a large part of the troupe with the most senior etoiles are here in the USA! Of course, the group that stayed back home to do Fille includes a LOT of my personal faves who didn't come to the USA, including Ould-Braham, Froustey and Thibault. And there's nothing like seeing the POB in its home, in the great city. :)

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Very occasionally I'd get a whiff of the perfume that is Paris...

I'm currently intoxicated with the scent, in a sublime way that is...

nuff said...back to reality.

The scent fills NYC, intoxicating us, as well.

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Especially Ganio, whose entrechat series was maybe the best I have ever seen, and I've seen David Hallberg ...

They seemed to soar as the series continued, until he was nearly reaching the proscenium. And he was so sensitive too. Loved his last attempt to reach for Giselle's skirt. Bravo to Ganio for breathing life into a performance that otherwise was lovely but a bit ossified.

Too bad, K Mc is in Taiwan...

That's what ABT wants you to believe.

It was performed in all of its glory: 50 corps men (all from POB, I wonder?) sitting on the periphery of the stage......

18 corps men, the others were supernumerary dancers. The corps men took curtain bow in the front, the supers stayed behind.

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The entrechats on the diagonal in "Blanc" were amazing, as were the locked ankle bourees.

I loved seeing willis, shades, and swans all in one ballet.

Aurelie's exploration and development of her power in "Bolero" was spectacular. I wish I had seen Le Riche, too.

I am reminded of "Apollo" or the third act of "Sylvia", although neither protagonist becomes a snake charmer. That would lead us full circle to the shades again.

Miliosr - Her upper arms are cut like no woman I have ever seen, and the arc of her ribs is complete.

Fourth ring aficianados, please explain the appeal. I want to see faces!

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......

Fourth ring aficianados, please explain the appeal. I want to see faces!

1. Cost

2. Ability to see the entire stage action (Big picture), including patterns of corps

3. Possession of strong opera glasses/binoculars to allow us to see faces up-close when necessary...so we are not losing out at all and, in fact, feel that we gain a lot by being up higher, especially if the seat is towards the middle, not cutting-off the stage floor.

My experience with Bolero was 10,000-x better from high up yesterday than it was when I sat in the stalls/orchestra at the Cairo Opera House 20 yrs ago.

Mussell: Thanks for the info on the corps vs supers in Bolero. WOW - I counted about 50 men during the bows, so that would mean about 30 supers. That partly explains why the "cheapies" at the Kennedy Center did not program this. Heck, they did not want to pay 6 child supers for the Bolshoi Coppelia (to surround Old Father Time in Act III); Bolero would have broken the bank!

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The Kennedy Center has made its trade-offs: next season they are presenting/producing the Mariinsky Ballet, Suzanne Farrell Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Ballet West, National Ballet of Canada, New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and Ballet Across America. What should they have dropped in order to have presented "Bolero"?

Intermissions that last for long fund-raising hours aren't an option at the Kennedy Center.

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Fourth ring aficianados, please explain the appeal. I want to see faces!

The fourth ring is not a problem if you have good binoculars. Closure of the fourth ring is a little game designed by NYCB to force people to buy more expensive seats once the relatively small number of inexpensive seats in the lower levels are sold out. It's a way of keeping the supply of tickets artificially low in order to coax people into buying more expensive seats. POB adopted the NYCB structure. I went to the box office to buy a POB ticket a few weeks ago and was told that the fourth ring was still closed off from sale. I wanted to buy a seat at the cheapest price pont, but there were none available. I ended up buying a more expensive seat in the back of the seond ring. The POB engagement is a rare engagement, so I bought the more expensive seat. However, if this had been a NYCB performance, I would have walked without hesitation.

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The Kennedy Center has made its trade-offs: next season they are presenting/producing the Mariinsky Ballet, Suzanne Farrell Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Ballet West, National Ballet of Canada, New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and Ballet Across America. What should they have dropped in order to have presented "Bolero"?

Intermissions that last for long fund-raising hours aren't an option at the Kennedy Center.

It sounds like somebody at the Kennedy Center (administrators and/or board?) is keeping a short leash on their budget - an ironic juxtaposition with the discussion going on in another forum about those issues in Miami.

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It sounds like somebody at the Kennedy Center (administrators and/or board?) is keeping a short leash on their budget - an ironic juxtaposition with the discussion going on in another forum about those issues in Miami.

Well, MCB has hired Michael Kaiser as a consultant.

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Helene, I am referring to the just-completed season at the KennCen. You list what's coming in 2012/13; POB ended the 2011/12 season.

I would have removed a couple of the Giselles to present the 3ple bill twice, e.g., 4 performances of Giselle and two 3ple Bills instead of 6 Giselles.

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Even if the logistics made sense -- i.e., shipping the sets and costumes for the triple bills to DC and then NYC -- it would still have been more expensive to present both in DC; unless someone made a major donation specific to subsidizing the difference, either there would be a deficit, the money might have been taken from next year's budget, or something else from the 2011-12 season would have had to give,

  • National Ballet of China
  • Ballet 360
  • Suzanne Farrell Ballet
  • NYCB
  • Bolshoi Ballet
  • Mariinsky Ballet

in addition to Paris Opera Ballet's "Giselle."

One person's "el cheapo" is another's "top-notch international programming within budget."

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Chicago did a week juggling Giselle and the 3ple bill -- which has minimal sets. They got the Giselle sets and costumes from Chicago to DC in a couple of days.

More importantly: Some of us grew up with far greater arts programs. It's sad to realize that every generation henceforth might be getting poorer and poorer arts programing, on all levels. Poorer and poorer everything (expectations for life, arts, food, living conditions, etc.). The Western world must have reached its economic apogee in the 60s and 70s. But that's the subject for another forum.

IT solutions, IPads, cellphones, etc., have not translated into greater quality of life. Yes, we can see many things 'live' on the internet. But is that living? Is that a substitute for being inside the Palais Garnier or the Met? Is seeing a skating event on internet the same as seeing it on a big TV screen...and is that the same as being in the ice arena live? My point: in 2012, people are quick to conform to easy solutions. In most cases, they don't even realize what they're missing. If you've only eaten 'plastic' microwavable pot roast, do you even know how a real pot roast tastes? If somebody doesn't demand old-fashioned quality, will the old standards ever come back? Maybe most folks would give up. I refuse to believe that the next generation has to settle for second-class living...IT toys & YouTube ballets (and plastic pot roast) above substance.

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I see your point, Natalia, but I think your point deserves its own thread. And maybe a PhD thesis.

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Mussell: Thanks for the info on the corps vs supers in Bolero. WOW - I counted about 50 men during the bows, so that would mean about 30 supers. That partly explains why the "cheapies" at the Kennedy Center did not program this. Heck, they did not want to pay 6 child supers for the Bolshoi Coppelia (to surround Old Father Time in Act III); Bolero would have broken the bank!

I don't know how much POB paid for its supers but ABT pays only tokens. The supers at ABT do it for the love of the art form, being able to rub elbows with dancers, see the backstage actions, watch the dances upclose and personal, plus the bragging rights that they performed at the Met. I assume it's much easier to find 30 super dancers in NYC than in DC because of Broadway. I imagine the super dancers would do it for less just so they can put "Paris Opera Ballet" on their resume.

I also noticed there're at least 6 supers in Giselle, they're the guards that made the entrance before the huntig parites arrived.

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To celebrate the Bastille Day on July 14, POB decided to stage Giselle Act III for the matinee show:

Giselle (Isabelle Ciaravola) and Albrecht (Karl Paquette) meets for one last time.

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Giselle changes her mind about forgiving Albrecht:

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She zeros in on the two-timer and tries to finish the job Myrtha failed to do:

dsc2045j.jpg

The POB dancers are very friendly, but Isabelle and Karl are the most fun, and she is espeically talkative.

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I would had LOVE to see "Suite en Blanc"...(sight)...Again...you lucky NY'rs...

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Fourth ring aficianados, please explain the appeal. I want to see faces!

I like to sit up close for ballet too, but I have box seats for MCB that are the ones closest to the center of the auditorium but two levels up. For Balanchine ballets it is often nice to be higher than the orchestra level to see the geometric patterns the dancers make. You can still get an idea from orchestra, but sometimes higher up can be breath-taking.

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Thank you to everyone who told me to go. I went. And I saw Aurelie Dupont's feet play the piano. Amazing. Her abilities as a dancer are remarkable.

POB displayed so many details not seen before in this ballet. The clarity and details occurred in the dancing, not just the mime. The arms were fluid, the connections between the steps were made apparent, the footwork was crystal clear. Even the bending of the foot from flat to arched on point was slowly and clearly articulated. The batterie astounded. Pirouettes were speedy and tight.

References to phrases and connections between acts one and two became more understandable. The peasant dances became more integral to the flow, and to the story, and the parallel to the willis made more sense.

Much has been said about the movement and geometries of the willis, and it was all true. I am glad I did not miss it. An interesting addition was the brief tableau. As I watched, I thought about how much I love ABT, but that POB was a true ballet company.

The characterizations and interpretations differed from other presentations. For the first time, I understood and sympathized with Hilarion - thank you, gracious and sweet Christophe Duquenne. His was a loving, not a gruff, Hilarion. Emilie Cozette looked like Glinda, the good witch of the North, without the sugar. She dispelled her justice calmly, keeping neat order in her domain. Lovely Mathieu Ganio, a wonderful dancer, portrayed Albrecht in a very randy manner, as a true seducer. I have never seen this before. I have never before understood why playbills described the story with the word "unrequited", but I saw this portrayed in this interpretation. His appeal to Myrtha seemed so self-focused, and Giselle's protection became a true gift. (A similar playful characteristic, with a lack of awareness of potential consequence, informs the performances of Mathieu and Aurelie in "Sylphide").

This performance fed my eyes, ears, and mind. However, I did not feel this "Giselle" in my heart. I did not leave broken-hearted, haunted, torn, or questioning, like I normally do. I have been obsessed with "Giselle", seeking answers to its mysteries, for years. The POB interpretation of "Giselle" differed sharply in this regard. I am glad to have seen both types of "Giselle" - the one that informs the mind, and the one that touches the heart.

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More festive party pictures:

http://www.newyorksocialdiary.com/node/1908259

Nancy Kissinger looks better in old age than she ever did in middle age.

Is Baryshnikov wearing jeans?

At first, I thought Benjamin Pech was wearing a Nehru jacket. Then I realized it was just an optical illusion. He's rocking the look, though.

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More festive party pictures:

http://www.newyorkso...om/node/1908259

Nancy Kissinger looks better in old age than she ever did in middle age.

LOL re Mrs. Kissinger. Plastic surgery can do wonders.

One of the pictures is of Helene Alexopolous. I thought I saw her in the theater, but it has been so many years since she retired that I just was not sure. She still looks great.

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I forgot to mention the musicality in this detailed performance. I really saw bodies dance, write, and play the music, from feet to hands.

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