Posted 16 July 2012 - 03:11 AM
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.