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POB at the Kennedy Center, July 2012


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#16 cantdance

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 05:52 PM

I watched the last 20 minutes of company class on the stage this morning. I don't know who the ballet master was, but she had the men practicing their their turns a la second, and barrel turns around in circle. For the ladies she had them doing pique turns, but dropping off pointe and then popping back up to pointe. That looked difficult. Also had them do 2 hops promenade into soutenou pirouettes en dehor. Then they had to clear the stage for setup.
These young dancer were having fun backstage, you could tell they love to dance. During the prologue and behind the curtain, they would clap to the beats, mime something funny to the music, or dance out of the wings and back. I guess to ease any nervousness. When the curtain came up they were ready. ABT was serious and quiet backstage, POB was more laid back. They would sit behind the wing and watch their fellow dancers. This company felt more like a family.

#17 angelica

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 03:29 PM

I watched the last 20 minutes of company class on the stage this morning. I don't know who the ballet master was, but she had the men practicing their their turns a la second, and barrel turns around in circle. For the ladies she had them doing pique turns, but dropping off pointe and then popping back up to pointe. That looked difficult. Also had them do 2 hops promenade into soutenou pirouettes en dehor. Then they had to clear the stage for setup.
These young dancer were having fun backstage, you could tell they love to dance. During the prologue and behind the curtain, they would clap to the beats, mime something funny to the music, or dance out of the wings and back. I guess to ease any nervousness. When the curtain came up they were ready. ABT was serious and quiet backstage, POB was more laid back. They would sit behind the wing and watch their fellow dancers. This company felt more like a family.


That's very interesting, because the film "La Danse" makes the point that it is difficult for the girls to form friendships while they are in the school because they are all competing with one another. Perhaps once you are accepted into the company the feeling of competition is lessened. Nevertheless, with those annual exams just to retain your status, it's hard for me to imagine the company as a family. This brings to mind, paraphrasing, "All happy families are alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

#18 Alexandra

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 03:53 PM

I loved this "Giselle" -- saw three performances (Opening night, Saturday and Sunday matinees). I have a review on danceviewtimes:

http://www.danceview...ed-to-life.html

It's interesting that a couple of friends of mine who've seen the company in Paris were surprised at my reaction, but it's not a unique one. (And two friends who see the company in Paris quite a bit were surprised that I was surprised because what I wrote is what they feel generally.) There were quite a few people who came up to me at intermission sputtering (as we all were) trying to find another way to say, "This is the best thing I've ever seen," or "I've seen I can't count the number of "Giselles" and this is the first time the story made sense," etc. Other views welcome!

#19 Natalia

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 02:41 AM

I had the exact-opposite reaction, Alexandra. The worst and most annoying Giselle, particularly Act II. Different strokes for different folks. Nothing wrong with that. :)

#20 puppytreats

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 07:25 AM

"I've seen I can't count the number of "Giselles" and this is the first time the story made sense,"


1. Can you elaborate on that comment?
2. You have added to my anxiety about my choice to avoid seeing "Giselle" in NYC. Posted Image

#21 Alexandra

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 07:35 AM

I can't fairly elaborate because it's not my comment, but something someone said to me -- actually, wrote me afterwards Posted Image There were quite a few things, a few of which I pointed out in my review, small bits of mime, and the clarity of the miming, that made the story more clear -- Giselle interrupting Myrtha's curse in Act II , the mother's mime scene explaining the curse of the Wilis in the first act.

Here's a link to another, more detailed review, than mine by Oksana Khadarina for dance tabs:

http://www.dancetabs...lle-washington/


Re your anxiety -- I'm sorry! I can't help. I do have a few friends who were not looking forward to it and wanted to see the company in a ballet we don't see here so frequently, but were very glad they went. But...who knows?

There used to be a man who went to every single performance here, back in the '70s and '80s. He had a stop watch and wrote down the timings for every act. Someone asked him once why he came every night, you've seen this stuff over and over, and he said, "Because you never know which one will be the best."

#22 SimonA

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 07:37 AM

From Alexandra's article: "On top of that, we had a young Giselle (Dorothée Gilbert) who seemed to be dancing at the top of her game (and delivered an exceptionally moving mad scene).."

Oh, how I wish I had seen Gilbert on Sunday rather than on Friday, when she had the problems we discussed earlier in the thread.

Again, from the review: " ... Osta, tiny and very light, danced with a crystalline purity that was especially beautiful in Act II."

Absolutely agree, re: Act II.

I will say, none of the three casts I saw struck me as ideal. Dupont, for me, was too cold and, as Natalia said, had little chemistry with Ganio. Osta / Le Riche both showed technical diminishment (didn't mention this detail earlier, but in his Act 2 solo, Le Riche only began his entrechats halfway through the musical cue -- he began with just regular jumps in place, not sure what the technical terms are to describe this). And Gilbert / Hoffalt get an incomplete based on Friday's performance.

#23 Alexandra

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 07:59 AM

I didn't see Friday, Simon, but heard about it. I will say the people I know who were there were still happy they went. On Sunday, though, she seemed to be very "on". Hoffalt started the entrechats quite late -- I think he did about 10. But for me, the company was so obviously NOT doing tricks -- no high extensions, but rather soft, low Romantic ones consistent with the style of the work, no 540s.... so I didn't feel cheated.

#24 mussel

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 09:36 AM


"I've seen I can't count the number of "Giselles" and this is the first time the story made sense,"


1. Can you elaborate on that comment?
2. You have added to my anxiety about my choice to avoid seeing "Giselle" in NYC. Posted Image


Just go. You and only you decide whether you like POB's Giselle or not, other's opinions are irrelevent. They don't come to NY that often, if you miss it you'll wonder for the rest of your life what you'd missed. If you like it, you'd be glad you've come. If you don't like it then don't go the next time you're in Paris or they're in NY. Life is too short to miss such an iconic ballet danced by such an iconic troupe who originated the ballet.

#25 abatt

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 09:53 AM

I always had regrets that I didn't see the POB Bayadere when they came to New York in the 1990s. I was not a sophisticated balletomane back then. I assumed that it would be substantially similar to the one I had seen at ABT. As Homer Simpson would say, Doh!Posted Image

#26 Kristen

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 05:19 PM

Left New York after the Osipova/Kobborg/Vasiliev Le Corsaire - took the train to 105 degree! DC - loved Giselle - not a Giselle fan, but the POB to me has the finest corps in the world - absolutely ethereal. Isabelle Ciarovola moves across the stage in such a way, you're not sure she's earthbound. I've never found anyone in POB to set the house on fire, but maintain that their corps totally carries them as world class. Loved it - had to return to Florida to get away from heat!

#27 Natalia

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 02:11 AM

I agree, Kirsten. The POB corps is great. My problem with this version by Patrice Bart -- which is also in the rep of La Scala, by the way -- is the placement and not-so-subtle changes in the Willis' choreography. Anybody who is intimately familiar with the purest version around -- the Kirov-Mariinsky's edition, which has barely changed since Petipa's last redaction -- will be irked by what they see with the POB's Willis, e.g., the big running circle around Hilarion occurs early, to the wrong music; those closed-in 'White Humbee' boxes bourreing out at sunrise instead of each Willi being at arm's length from her neighbors; the choppiness of the port de bras in the 'back-and-forth'segment on the knees, with hands 'scooping dirt' and tossing it back instead of the lovely Mariinsky arms and hands 'en couronne'! Too many oddities to list. It hurt my musical and choreographic sensitivity.

The dark lighting was another irksome feature. Then errors by the leading ballerina, watering down her steps (Dupont did only 2 low sobresauts in her first solo moment in the pdd)...then the front row of Willis wobbling during their cross-over in temps leve, with legs held up barely 35-degrees (not even the standard 45-degree).

How well-informed ballet fans cannot see this is incredulous to me. Especially folks who have seen the Mariinsky version of Act II time after time.

By the way, I heard nothing but negatives about this version from Russian emigrees who sat around us in 2nd Tier of the Kennedy Center Opera House...and who shared the elevator ride down after the show. 'Babushkas' who know their ballet stuff, whispering to each other: Eta plokho..."That was bad." I got the same comments the next day from folks who attend the Russian Orthodox Church in DC...people who know ballet because they grew up in Russia. This was the talk of the post-liturgy breakfast last Sunday among us ladies.

#28 cinnamonswirl

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 10:59 AM

Well, a lot of this depends on what version of the ballet a viewer is most familiar with, I think. I did not grow up watching POB's Giselle, but it is the version I have seen most often. I saw 3 performances by the Mariinsky in DC last year, and I prefer POB's.

A lot of the things which bother you about the choreography I don't mind at all. In fact I like how the Wilis zip up in 1 smooth movement and bourrée off at the end. And you're never going to get, IMO, lovely Mariinsky arms from POB. Even if the choreography were the same, the style is different and French arms are not as soft and fluid.

I do agree that the lightning is a bit dark particularly in Act I (unfortunately these seems to be a widespread probably at POB now, for many different ballets), but I love the dark lightning in Act II. I find the starkness of the wilis against the black floor to be haunting. To me the Mariinksy's blue stage made it look like Act II was set at the bottom of the ocean.

As for errors, well, everyone makes mistakes sometimes. Hopefully they don't make too many of them too often. I did not notice Dupont omitting steps on Thursday night (although I did notice Ciaravola did on Saturday). Overall I thought the corps looked very crisp.

#29 SimonA

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 11:41 AM

Cinnamonswirl, how was Ciaravola's performance overall on Saturday? She's the one Giselle I missed.

I found the lighting for Act II just bright enough for me sitting in the middle of the orchestra. But I could definitely see how it might be a problem farther away from the stage.

#30 cinnamonswirl

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 12:44 PM

Overall I thought it was an excellent performance. She did make modifications (omitted some steps, changed the direction of the hops in the Act I variations), and she's never been considered a technician. But she is a real actress. She's like Fonteyn or Ferri in that she has a young spirit on stage. You don't know how old she is unless you zoom in on her face with binoculars.

Unfortunately Myrtha was Emilie Cozette. Often I think people are too hard on Cozette, but she really is not on the level, technically or artistically, of the other étoiles (or even many lower-ranked dancers). Pairing her with Ciaravola - who transcends technique - just serves to highlight that.


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