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POB Headed to NYC in 2012

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#136 abatt


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Posted 20 July 2012 - 10:57 AM

I just checked out ticket availability for the Pina performance as a matter of curiosity. They have released some orchestra tickets for Sunday for $250. As I recall, the highest priced orchestra tickets were $150 when the tickets were first put on sale, but I guess they decided to dynamically raise the price. Greed is alive and well at Lincoln Center.

#137 Helene



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Posted 20 July 2012 - 11:18 AM

The highest price ticket for regular opera performances is 180 Euros and for ballet, 150 or 92 Euros. Due to the economic crisis, that is ~$220 for opera or ~$182-110 for ballet. Last year, the top ticket would have been ~$250.

#138 Estelle


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Posted 20 July 2012 - 01:28 PM

Forgive me if this is sound like a silly or inappropriate question, but I would be curious to know if Lifar's choreography critique could still be biased by his rumored political life events, or in other words...Is America ready to be a 100 % artistically impartial on his ballets...? Do we think Lefebre may have considered this point while doing the selection...?

Actually, that program wasn't especially selected for this tour: it seems to be one of their "standard" touring programs, as it has been performed around 2006 in China, in 2007 in Toulouse and Tours, in 2008 in Créteil, Aix-en-Provence and Montpellier, around 2010 in Moscow, and in 2001 in Biarritz, and it also was part of the 2008-2009 season in Paris.

I don't think that politics had much to do with that choice (even in France, there still are controversies among ballet historians and critics about Lifar's behavior during WWII, but I think much of the audience is unaware of that)...

I guess that maybe those works were chosen partly because they all are by French choreographers and have score by famous French composers.
Lifar was one of they key figures of the POB history, and he had a strong influence on the level of the company (which was in a poor shape at the beginning of his tenure), and also on the way ballet was treated at the Paris Opera (before his arrival, for example, the lights were still on during the ballet performances). On the other hand, he probably tended to program too much of his own works, and to continue dancing when he was way past his prime (that's a common point with another great POB director decades later- who also had a huge ego ;-) ), and also he did very little to encourage other ballet choreographers in France.

Pairing Petit and Béjart in the same program is a bit amusing, because those two (who had taken classes together with Mme Rousanne- she was the teacher of most of the top French dancers then, including also Jean Babilée, Pierre Lacotte, Yvette Chauviré, Violette Verdy...) were very far from loving each other (and in some interviews shortly before his death, and after Béjart's death, Roland Petit was very negative, and even nasty, about Béjart...) Also, both of them had complicated relations with the Paris Opera. Petit studied at the POB school and joined its corps de ballet, then resigned when he was a sujet (aged 21) to start his own company.He worked again with the POB only 20 years later, in 1965 (some years after Lifar's departure), when he created "Notre-Dame de Paris" for them. He also accepted to become the POB director in 1969, in a period of crisis following the departure of John Taras, but eventually resigned before actually becoming the company director (and
Béjart refused that position too). Unlike Petit, Béjart was not trained at the POB and never was a dancer of the company, but he created his first work the the POB, "La Damnation de Faust", in 1964 too, and later created several works for the company. There was later a long period when he didn't want the POB to performed his works any longer (the company performed no Béjart work between 1986 and 1995), but after the revival of his "Ninth Symphony" in 1995, the POB performed some of his works quite often.

I don't know well the ballets of that program, having seen "Suite en blanc" and "L'Arlésienne" only twice if I remember correctly , and "Boléro" only on video (with Jorge Donn). But I wonder to what extent they are works very "dancer-dependant"... And I don't know how faithful the company is with Lifar's style, especially as "Suite en Blanc" wasn't performed between 1996 and 2006 and much of the other Lifar works have fallen into oblivion. Also, I found Manuel Legris absolutely great in "L'Arlésienne", but Legris was a dancer who probably could have been mesmerizing just standing still on a stage while reading a phonebook, and I think I enjoyed more his performance than the choreography itself; it looked like a minor Roland Petit work to me.

#139 Helene



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Posted 20 July 2012 - 01:42 PM

Thank you so much, Estelle! It is always great to hear from you

If I remember correctly, Maya Plisetskaya was invited to perform "Bolero", but without very much rehearsal and such a repetitive score, it might have been Bejart himself who tried to prompt her from the back.

#140 MRR



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Posted 20 July 2012 - 09:12 PM

My report of the Wednesday (Gilbert/Hoffalt) Giselle performance:

With her wholesome looks, pure technique, and silky port de bras, Dorothee Gilbert is a ballerina of the first order. During Giselle's iconic entrance out of the cottage in Act I, it was as if Gilbert's face was glowing. She had this wonderful, natural smile; complete with one of the most beautiful, sensitive pairs of eyes I have seen on the professional stage. Starting off the first act, Gilbert's Giselle seems derived from the sun. She is glowing, luminous, and altogether care-free. Yet one begins to see a flicker of the disturbed nature within Giselle when during the peasant dance Gilbert falls backward into the arms of Albrecht (Josua Hoffalt). The way she thrust her body into Albrecht's arms was the most effective of the three Giselles I saw (Dupont, Ciaravola, Gilbert), as Gilbert evoked a flash of the ill spirit within the title-role which eventually cannot withstand betrayal. One of the keystones of the character of Giselle is her love to dance. Perhaps she loves to dance even more because her mother, Berthe, will never allow her to, fearing that Giselle dancing will prove a bad omen toward her becoming a wili. Yet, toward the end of the act, Berthe relents and allows Giselle to dance, which sets the stage for Giselle's famous Act I "Spessivtseva" variation. In the variation, Gilbert demonstrated a wonderful lift on her standing leg during the attitude pirouettes, and she showed a nice (if a tad bit tentative) command of the arduous hops en pointe. Yet it was her sheer love to dance which spoke to the audience the most, with Gilbert's eyes twinkling and her body beaming.

Gilbert's mad scene would not prove especially riveting at the time, but her approach makes sense the more it is analyzed. First of all, Gilbert's reading of Hilarion informing her about the real Albrecht was unusual because she didn't just go and stare at Albrecht in this love struck, almost protective manner. In other words, there was no "Hilarion must be lying!" She stared at Albrecht with a rather foreboding gaze, sensing he was up to no good but not sure why she would be betrayed. Yet it wasn't until she hugged Albrecht when she fully realizes what he has done to her. This difference in interpretation was not the only contrast between Gilbert and the other two Giselles I saw. In the section when Giselle recalls her first encounter with Albrecht, Aurelie Dupont and Isabelle Ciaravola clearly made out the steps when they recall dancing with Albrecht. Conversely, Gilbert marked the steps, barely making them out, which provided an interesting effect. I loved how Dupont and Ciaravola clearly danced the steps and gave them a more ferocious intensity than when they were done with Albrecht, a notable example being how their pointe shoes would stab into the stage when they landed a grand jete. Rather, Gilbert seemingly made this aspect of the mad scene a point about Giselle couldn't dance anymore: she was too weak, vulnerable, frail, and heart-broken to embark on what she loved or on the memories of doing what she loved. Thus, one might say she brought a new layer to Giselle: she dies not only because of Albrecht, but because there is no "dance" left within her.

Toward the end of the scene, Gilbert proved her finest moment of drama when, after falling to the floor, she slowly glanced up at the audience with this spooky, jack-o-lantern smile that suggested a girl of true insanity. The indelible aspect of Gilbert's mad scene was that she never knew she was mad. She seemed to be convincing herself that she was well and happy instead of letting herself showcase all of these tragic grimaces of a girl who is mad and knows it. With all of this said, Gilbert's mad scene has room for development. Indeed, her mad scene was very, very creditable, and the moments I described provided the backbone for an interesting and different interpretation, but Gilbert lacked the stoic drama of Dupont on Friday and the subtle nuances and spontaneity of Ciaravola on Saturday. I appreciated that Gilbert, akin to the other two Etoiles, kept her mad scene subtle and never bordered on camp or histrionics of any kind. Yet, the mad scene is for right now headed in the right direction, and very much in the right direction, but is not yet a fully-fledged work of art in the manner that the rest of Gilbert's Act I Giselle is.

The playful girlishness of Gilbert's Act I Giselle proved more natural a portrayal for her than the dark, ghostly confines of the spirit in Act II, but Gilbert's interpretation of Act II was nonetheless impressive. She entered the stage in her initiation scene as this anonymous ghost, devoid of any identity. For all we knew, she was just another nameless wili. Gone were the inviting eyes of Act I. Throughout the initiation, her eyes were locked down to the floor and provided the audience a barrier and the sensation she was firmly within Myrtha's control and only Myrtha's control. That is, until she sees Albrecht.

Gilbert's Giselle begins to have an identity when Albrecht appears, and suddenly there is this humanity and sensitivity within her. This humanity and sensitivity never fully forms, as she is still a ghost, after all. Gilbert provided her Act II Giselle with a fascinating contrast between her human love for Albrecht and her spiritual remoteness in showing that love. Gilbert's Act II Giselle was on the softer and more forgiving side, but she left it a mystery as to whether love equaled forgiveness. The choreography in Act II for Giselle more glaringly exposed Gilbert's weakness as a technician: her extension. Although otherwise a strong dancer, Gilbert has a relatively tight lower back and not the flexibility in the hamstrings to allow the elasticity of her extensions to come alive. This proved only a minor weakness in her performance, as Giselle is not a role which should really call for the Svetlana Zakharova ear-grazing extensions. Giselle is a more restrained role than most, but the adagio pas de deux with Albrecht exposed this weakness in Gilbert's dancing because many of Gilbert's developees, arabesques, penchees, et al, were not as elongated and expansive as many.

However, Gilbert channeled her spiritual Giselle to highlight different strengths of her technique, namely her balances and her footwork. There were some nicely sustained balances which evoked the weightlessness of Giselle, although on two occasions she let those balances interfere with the supposed choreography because they were sustained beyond the length of the intended phrase. However, there was nothing to criticize about Gilbert's backward bourrees, bourrees so fast that one thought she was about to fly. Alas, an excellent performance from Gilbert was just slightly marred by the most unexpected of manners: the scenery. As Gilbert was about to say her final goodbye to Albrecht, she glided backwards until she inadvertently bumped into the wing. But, it was no big deal, as Gilbert turned and exited as if nothing had happened. In many respects, Gilbert is almost like POB's answer to Marianela Nunez. The two artists are in many respects different, of course, and have vastly contrasting training backgrounds. Yet both are crackerjack technicians who while not fully developed artists are well on their way. Gilbert proved herself a sublime Giselle last night, maybe one of the finest out there, but one can sense that her best years as an artist are still to come.

As Albrecht, Josua Hoffalt was rather lightweight. He was not a bad actor, nor a bad technician, and he developed a youthful rapport in Act I and a sorrowful rapport in Act II with Gilbert. With that said, true to form with the other Albrechts I witnessed during the run (Mathieu Ganio and Karl Paquette), Hoffalt was more successful in conveying the grief toward Giselle in Act II then his love for her during Act I. The staging gives Albrecht more opportunities to distinguish his character in Act II then in Act I, so Gilbert carried the performance until the second act when Hoffalt made himself and his character known. Hoffalt has wonderfully soft knees and sensitive musicality, but he lacks the fine lines of Ganio and the batterie to match. Hoffalt "only" completed 25 entrechant sixes to Ganio's 28 (and far more exceptional 28) and Paquette's 34, and his last eight or so entrechants were substandard. Some of his pirouettes in the variation were also shaky, and one didn't get a sense of power from Hoffalt—either from his technical ability or from his acting ability, which was sensitive but rather ossified.

As Myrtha, the Queen of the Wilis, Laura Hecquet was forgettable, literally. As I left the theater, I struggled to remember anything of real importance about her dancing or her interpretation, for better or for worse. One thing that did stand out to me, and not in a good way, was her "entrechant six." The beats in her sixes were basically her heal bones crossing (when the goal is to have the thighs or at least the calves cross), which simply does not cut it in the role of the Wili Queen which features several of these jumps. Otherwise, Hecquet proved to be an inoffensive, and actually quite clean, dancer, but the regality and brooding presence so necessary for Myrtha were not at all conveyed by Hecquet. Rather than being the queen of the wilis, Hecquet seemed almost as if she were a random wili plucked to become the leader of the tribe.

The peasant pas de deux was danced by Heloise Bourdon and Axel Ibot, the same cast as Saturday. Ibot delivered nicely in the first variation, demonstrating that pure batterie, vivacious smile, and buoyant jump seen on Saturday with an extra-long arabesque balance thrown in for good measure. His second solo would prove uncharacteristically shaky; as some of his double assemble landings and pirouettes were not pitch precise. His one double tour to the knee was clean enough, but a touch under rotated and not finished with the panache that he had on Saturday. Ibot is definitely a talented danseur who just needs more experience solidifying his commendable talent. Heloise Bourdon was luminous as Ibot's partner, charming the audience with her tasteful elegance. Bourdon, who suggests herself a Giselle in-the-making, dances like a dewdrop: quiet, light, and fluid. Proof of her commendable technical ability surfaced when Bourdon embarked on the tricky double pirouettes from the knee (partnered by Ibot). The tendency in the step would be to stick the popo out while trying to get up into a pirouette from a kneeling position, but Bourdon maintains a superb, neutral spine even when attempting this difficult transition.

Yann Saiz proved himself a real force as Hilarion: passionate, intimidating, and even a touch erotic. One even questioned why Giselle picked Albrecht over Hilarion. The Wili corps were exceptional as usual. The audience certainly let their bravos be heard for the Wilis, and one of the most lauded aspects of these performances has indeed been the Wili corps. While not to take away from the sublime corps work in Act II, I wish to single out the eight women who dance as peasant girls in Act I and have an allegro section in-between the variations in the peasant pas. The clarity, precision, and musicality in which these women dance this section are remarkable, and their speed would make even the fastest NYCB dancers blush. In fact, all of the peasant sections are superlative, and a remarkable change from ABT, a company which in contrast throws together the peasant dances in Swan Lake as if they are of little significance.

#141 puppytreats


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Posted 21 July 2012 - 06:16 AM

MRR - Your essays are always so detailed. You have great patience and ability to translate an unspoken art into words.

I missed Gilbert's performance. You write that she did not kow she was mad. I am curious - can you really say she did not know she was mad, or was she portraying someone struggling to figure out if she was mad? Was she struggling to assess her reality and the truth of what was told to her, comparing words with actions, life's prior lessons with her discovery of how things really were? For example, was she trying to figure out if Albrecht really loved her, in light of his statements to her, his interactions with her, his behavior with her friends, the rules of society in which she lived? Was she questioning if he loved her even if he hurt her, or could not be with her based on societal constraints, or if he also loved someone else? Ruminating on these thoughts could drive someone mad. Analyzing all of these interactions and contradictions could create intense, maddening, seemingly intolerable pain and sadness, as well.

#142 MRR



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Posted 21 July 2012 - 07:17 AM

MRR - Your essays are always so detailed. You have great patience and ability to translate an unspoken art into words.

I missed Gilbert's performance. You write that she did not kow she was mad. I am curious - can you really say she did not know she was mad, or was she portraying someone struggling to figure out if she was mad? Was she struggling to assess her reality and the truth of what was told to her, comparing words with actions, life's prior lessons with her discovery of how things really were? For example, was she trying to figure out if Albrecht really loved her, in light of his statements to her, his interactions with her, his behavior with her friends, the rules of society in which she lived? Was she questioning if he loved her even if he hurt her, or could not be with her based on societal constraints, or if he also loved someone else? Ruminating on these thoughts could drive someone mad. Analyzing all of these interactions and contradictions could create intense, maddening, seemingly intolerable pain and sadness, as well.

Thank you! Your questions are very thoughtful and definitely have me reconsidering some aspects of Gilbert's mad scene. Indeed, one could say that Gilbert's Giselle struggled to figure out if she was mad. What I thought was interesting was that she actually seemed to believe Hilarion when he revealed the "true" Albrecht to Gilbert, and this proved notable because she transitioned from showing the intuition of her character vs. the eventual insanity of her character. I came up with her not knowing whether she was mad or not based on her gaze up to the audience after she falls to the floor (following her marking out the steps when she first meets Albrecht). I was seated far back in the theatre, but looked like she had this almost spooky, lovestruck gaze, which suggested that she had no real control of her sanity or of what had just happened. I suppose one could say she was struggling to realize if she was mad or not by doing this, but what went though my mind while watching this part is that she had no knowledge of whether she was even mad. With all of this said, the mad scene left me a tad bit cold at the time (and I know FauxPas expressed some reservations about her mad scene as well), but I think Gilbert had some really interesting details in there.

#143 Ceeszi


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Posted 22 July 2012 - 07:58 PM

I am a little delayed in posting this, but I went to see the last three Giselles from the Paris Opera Ballet: 7/17 - Dupont/Ganio/Cozette; 7/18 - Gilbert/Hoffalt/Hecquet; and 7/19 - Osta/Le Riche/Daniel.

First of all, I really liked the overall production. I am very familiar with the ABT production and sometimes it feels that Act I can drag a little bit. The POB version kept things moving along and I also feel that the mime was a little clearer and a little more understandable. For example, Giselle bows to the Prince and Bathilde even in the midst of her losing her mind. It is also much clearer that Albrecht is being danced to death by the Wilis. The peasant pas de deux is enhanced by the inclusion of the eight other women. The POB's Wili corps was outstanding, although I do agree that it makes no sense to have the Wilis scare the dice throwers - isn't Myrtha calling them to rise out of their graves?

There is one part that the POB completely throws away and that is at the end of Act II when Albrecht is holding Giselle and she is supposed to kind of skim across the stage. All three pairs kind of threw that move away and had Giselle coming down hard on her foot. I stll have visions of Hee Seo and David Hallberg doing that move at last year's matinee. Yet that was made up for by a spectacular move where Giselle exits the stage running backwards on pointe - of the three Giselles, Gilbert did that move the best and the fastest.

The 7/17 performance had a wonderful and glamorous Aurelie Dupont. I fell in love with Aurelie after watching the POB DVD of Don Quixote with Manuel Legris. Unfortunately, I have only had the chance to see her dance live once - at the 2007 YAGP Gala (again with Legris). I was thrilled to be seeing Dupont as Giselle. When the ballet began, I thought she looked a little stiff and uncomfortable in the mime section of Act I. But then when she took center stage and did Giselle's hops on pointe with one foot - WOW! It was breathtaking. Her mad scene was compelling, but not the best acted of the three Giselles. The woman who sat in front of me questioned why she did not loosen her hair like most Giselles. As good as she was in Act I, Dupont really shone in Act II. She was ghostly and ethereal and outstanding in the technical parts of the dance. I would agree that this Giselle left me in awe, but I was not moved the way I usually am by the story. Mathieu Ganio impressed me greatly - his "entrechant sixes" seemed like they would go on forever and he partnered Dupont beautifully, especially the lifts in the Act II pas de deux. Emilie Cozette was an imperial looking Myrtha, but of the three Myrthas that I saw, I would rank her third of the three. The POB gave us a much more sympathetic Hilarion than the ABT version. The Tuesday night performance gave us Christophe Duquenne, but a better Hilarion was waiting for the Wednesday and Thursday performances. And there was an outstanding peasant pas de deux from Charline Giezendanner and Fabien Revillion.

The 7/18 performance gave us Dorothee Gilbert who brought a very childlike innocence to Giselle. Aurelie Dupont is much too glamorous to be 100% believable as an innocent peasant girl. Gilbert's mad scene (like Osta's) really moved me. And there was one part, where she jumped in the air and then did her fall and several members of the audience gasped. When she did the hops on pointe into the spins - I don't think I have ever seen a Giselle turn faster. And then, she was so on in Act II. She flew backwards on pointe when she exited the stage which got a huge round of applause from the audience. Two glitches marred Wednesday night's performance. First, the sword fell apart and there were a few times when my heart was in my mouth, because Gilbert got ever so close to dancing over one part of it. And the second was Gilbert bumping into the scenery during Giselle's final exit. It sounds like it was no big deal, but it jolted me and broke the spell. So again, I was left with a Giselle that amazed me, but did not move me. I enjoyed Josua Hoffalt as Albrecht. He jumped higher than Ganio. He did less sixes, but the ones that he did were incredibly high. I felt that Ganio was the better of the two overall. And what about our Hilarion - the incredibly good-looking Yann Saiz? This was the first time I felt that Giselle may have made the wrong decision. Wednesday's Myrtha was Laura Hecquet. Did anyone else feel that she looked like a very young Queen Elizabeth II? That look gave her a more regal and imperial look than Cozette the night before. The peasant pas de deux was danced by Heloise Bourdon and Axel Ibot. Ibot was a little more explosive than Revillion the night before, but Revillion was much cleaner in the end.

7/19 gave us probably my favorite of the three performances. Clairemarie Osta brought so much emotion to her Giselle. Finally, this was a Giselle that amazed me, yet also made me cry. Osta's dancing was not as explosive as Dupont or Gilbert, but I could not take my eyes off of her the whole night. Her mad scene was heart-wrenching. Yann Saiz was back as Hilarion, but it was so clear that Osta only had eyes for her Albrecht, Nicolas Le Riche. I had the feeling that Le Riche was going out of his way to make sure that this was a great Giselle for Osta's last performance. Again, Le Riche may not have been as explosive as Ganio or Hoffalt, but he brought so much passion to his Albrecht. The final scene truly left me in tears. Nolwenn Daniel was Myrtha and her performance seemed to be on par with Hecquet's - cold, imperial, and commanding. Giezendanner and Revillion were back for another outstanding peasant pas de deux.

Merci POB - three beautiful Giselles! Please come back soon!

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