POB Headed to NYC in 2012
Posted 18 July 2012 - 07:42 AM
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.
Posted 18 July 2012 - 01:15 PM
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.
Posted 18 July 2012 - 01:30 PM
More festive party pictures:
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.
Posted 18 July 2012 - 01:48 PM
Posted 19 July 2012 - 08:27 AM
Gilbert was easily and by a long shot, the best-danced Giselle of this engagement (I am seeing Osta tonight but she is retiring as of tomorrow). She has long, supple flexible limbs with great strength in footwork and turns. So you got the long lyrical romantic line without sacrificing brilliance and speed in the more bravura passages. As an actress, Gilbert is no match for Ciaravola but has a sunny girlish quality - she is a joyous Giselle experiencing the first heady rush of romantic love. She has a lovely natural smile onstage and it lit up the whole first act. The darker more tragic colors of the character were not as easily available to her. Her mad scene was done correctly but didn't convince me on a deeper level and the reactions of the other characters seemed muted. In the second act, Gilbert was on fire - whiplash turns when Giselle spins backwards when reanimated by Myrtha. She often extended the crests of phrases by balancing on pointe before darting into the wings. The audience went nuts for her. She did a very fast backwards bourree offstage that had the audience roaring. Both she and Hoffalt were applauded for individual steps in their solos. Only glitch was in Giselle's final backward glide offstage, Gilbert didn't gauge where the leg of the drop was and bumped into a canvas tree trunk. She had been perfect in every way before but I am sure that is all she was thinking about afterwards! I know how that it is!
Josua Hoffalt is a medium height dancer and lacks the personal magnetism and looks of Ganio and Paquette. Hoffalt's acting is decent enough but not as specific as Ganio and he doesn't have the ballet prince glamor of Paquette. However, dance-wise, his technique was much better. All the POB men have terrific batterie but sometimes come down from jumps or assemblé turns hard on the foot and shakily. Not Hoffalt - his line was very stretched and all his landings were clean and precise. His second act variation was the best so far and he also got huge waves of applause in Act II. He also danced a very long series of entrechats sixes including maybe an extra set before he quit. (Nicolas Le Riche back in the day could have beat him but I am not so sure about today). Both Gilbert and Hoffalt have a natural bouyancy in their movements which the audience reacted to very enthusiastically.
Axel Ibot and Heloise Bourdon were the Peasant PDD couple. Ibot is a charmer with stunning batterie and a light arched jump. His first solo was absolutely perfect (better than on Saturday afternoon) but in the second solo he came down sloppily and nearly spilled over when landing backwards from a turn. Some assemblé turns finished with his feet out of position. Definitely a world-class dancer in there but to my eyes a little green and in need of some further polishing. Heloise Bourdon has gorgeous long arched feet and airy precise technique. She was a joy to watch - very graceful and elegant. Yann Saiz had a brooding sexy presence as Hilarion - I might have chosen him over Albrecht.
In Act II, Laura Hecquet danced Myrtha extremely well but lacks the authority and height of Gillot. On the other hand, like Gilbert and Hoffalt all the technical challenges were easily handled by her - the bourrees were silent, tiny but very smooth. I think I am liking the slow bourrees as they give Myrtha more regal and sinister grace. Like a dark storm cloud slowly rolling in. The other way makes her frenetic and more overtly dramatic. The wilis corps was very precise last night. I still don't like some of the changes to the choreography - the fast and jagged "digging dirt" upward swerves of the wilis arms. I also don't like the hordes of Wilis that scare away the dice-throwers. It diminishes the wonder of Myrtha's first appearance onstage.
Anyway, there was a lot of young people up in the fourth ring and a standing ovation afterwards. Lots of yelling and screaming enthusiasm. I think the Paris Opera Ballet dancers are really enjoying their stay in New York - for many of them their last tour probably.
Posted 19 July 2012 - 04:11 PM
Posted 20 July 2012 - 06:24 AM
Posted 20 July 2012 - 06:48 AM
I would highly advise people to catch the second Osta/LeRiche performance. I saw them last night and while Osta's technique was diminished she was frail, tragic, heart rending as Giselle. Just wonderful. One beautiful personal touch: as she leaves Albrecht forever, she gives him the same blank, deranged look she gave him during the Mad Scene. Spooky and surreal.
Osta's mad scene really made sense. Her Giselle is a physically and mentally fragile, young girl, who lives a bit in her own world from the beginning, talking to herself and figuring things out in life. Her breakdown involves her retreat into her memory and inner world, which she has already revealed to us, in part. She demonstrates herself analyzing what happened and trying to figure out the truth and meaning of what she experienced, observed, and was told. Her efforts to escape her pain are touching and dramatic.
I may be wrong, but I don't think she performed the entire whirling dervish choreography last night. Sometimes, lifting and removing binoculars, I miss part of the action. Le Riche changed some of the choreography, too. His modifications created interest, even if the audience missed what was omitted.
After last night, I highly recommend seeing husband and wife dance teams. Le Riche displayed great tenderness and love for Osta, and lifted her to such incredible heights. He was so proud and happy for her during her bows. I have seen similar, genuine emotion and chivalric, deferential, and protective behavior when Irina and Maxim are together at ABT.
I really enjoyed the Willis from the fourth wing. Myrtha truly looked like she was suspended in the air, flying sideways.
In Act 1, the corps looked a bit tired, and not as remarkable as earlier in the week. Peasant pdd was better earlier in the week too, but still wonderful.
Posted 20 July 2012 - 06:51 AM
Oh yes, Michael, talk about "extraordinary!" I've been attending performances of Giselle since before most of you were born (probably), and last night's Giselle was one of the most extraordinary I've ever seen. Working backwards, the ensemble work was breathtaking in its uniformity, speed, accuracy, and sheer beauty, a Greek chorus commenting as one on the protagonists. The peasant pas de deux was charmingly danced by Charline Giezendanner and Fabien Revillion, and those pirouettes from a kneeling position were spot on. It seemed as if there was more dancing in Act I than I've seen in previous performances, which was a plus. On the part of the principals, Act II was breathtaking. Aurelie Dupont went from being a rather sophisticated peasant in Act I to being sheer gossamer in Act II. Mathieu Ganio was a deeply contrite Albrecht and a fine partner. His entrechat six towards the end of Act I seemed to rise to heaven. Emilie Cozette was an impervious Myrtha. The one thing I missed was the speed of the bourrees that dancers at ABT seem to achieve. But I think this was a stylistic difference in that I'm sure she could have done them because POB can dance FAST. And oh, those Wilis!
And then there was that extraordinary Giselle last night.
What is most striking to me about this company is the clarity of execution. You can "read" every step and no one takes short cuts.
Two Giselles to go today. Will I remember each one in its singularity or will they combine in a single blur of magnificence? I'll take it either way.
Fabien received and deserved a wonderful reception in the two performances I saw.
Posted 20 July 2012 - 06:57 AM
. Yann Saiz had a brooding sexy presence as Hilarion - I might have chosen him over Albrecht.
He is tall and broad shouldered. Natalia recommended poaching Ibot. Saiz would be the right size for a lot of the tall dancers at ABT.
For Hilarion, I enjoyed Christophe Duquenne's interpretation.
Posted 20 July 2012 - 07:09 AM
Gilbert was easily and by a long shot, the best-danced Giselle of this engagement
Agree completely, she and Hoffalt were phenomenal - her range is amazing. In the Balanchine repertory you'd love to see her in all four movements of "Symphony in C."
Posted 20 July 2012 - 07:16 AM
I think most of the American ballet-going audience hasn't the faintest clue about Lifar's politics, of Balanchine's somewhat snarky distain of him, or how he out-maneuvered Balanchine from the POB post when Balanchine became ill. Bejart would be a familiar name, much more than Petit, and much more than Lifar.
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...?
If Lefebvre thought about taking Lifar's politics into consideration when programming, I suspect she would have dismissed the thought with Gallic disdain.
Posted 20 July 2012 - 07:29 AM
Posted 20 July 2012 - 10:57 AM
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