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2012-13 Season


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#1 miliosr

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 04:51 PM

Here's the link to the upcoming season:

http://www.theatre-d...2-07-01&lang=fr

Is this not Kader Belarbi's first season as director? What's the word from our French correspondents about the programming choices. At first glance, it seems like a break from the former director's Balanchine-centric aesthetic.

#2 Estelle

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 12:44 AM

Indeed, it is a radical change grom the previous repertory. All the works performed next season will be new in the repertory, except one by Forsythe !
I had seen the Ballet de Toulouse only twice on tour (years ago), performing Balanchine works, and had liked it very much, especially as there as so few opportunities to see some Balanchine works in France (now the only French companies performing Balanchine works are the POB and the Ballet de Bordeaux, and maybe the Ballet de Nice... And while Brigitte Lefèvre regulary claims her admiration for Balanchine, she hasn't programmed many of his works in recent years. But don't get me started on the often wide discrepancy between what Ms Lefèvre says and what she does... Posted Image )

Nanette Glushak had been the director of the company since 1994, which is a very long period compared to most French companies (something I generally would consider as positive, as a common problem for French companies is the too frequent change of directors, often for reasons of local politics, so that companies don't have enough time to build a repertory and develop a clear identity). The company wasn't very active when she arrived, dancing a fews ballets per season (and mostly performing in operettas), and often inviting Paris Opera dancers as guest stars in the main roles, probably because they didn't consider their own dancers good enough. As far as I know, the level of the company had improved a lot under Mrs Glushak's tenure, and many dancers stayed for a long time with the company.They performed a lot of Balanchine works, including some which had never been performed by French companies before (for example "Lebeslieder Walzer" and "Allegro Brillante" several years becore the POB performed it, "Raymonda Variations", "Slaughter on tenth avenue", "Square dance", "Brahms Schönberg Quartet" which as far as I know had never been performed by another French company), but also for example some works by Tudor, De Mille, Ashton, Cranko seldom seen in France, and several full-length classics (the French wikipedia page for the company includes all the repertory performed there since Ms Glushak's arrival).

I don't know what motivated the change of direction (alas, what happens in French provincial companies often has much to do with obscure local politics), but clearly it wasn't Ms Glushak's choice.

Here is a link to an interview of Ms Glushak on a French blog:

http://www.dansesave...nanette-glushak

In the interview, she says that the last season of the company was very successful, with more subscriptions than ever and sold out performances ("c'était complet"), and that when a new director of the Théâtre du Capitole (which includes both opera and ballet), Fréderic Chambert, arrived three years ago, she had been given an offer of direction somewhere else but that the new director had said that he trusted her and liked her work and wanted her to stay. She says that the reasons for her firing were never explained completely, and that the "real" reason might be that they wanted someone from the Paris Opera (and mentions that Kader Belarbi is a friend of hers, whom she has known for 22 years). She doesn't know yet if she will stay inToulouse (she'll turn 60 soon).

The repertory otf the next season will include works of the following choreographers:

Bournonville (excerpts from Napoli act III), Ivo Cramer after Dauberval (a production of "La Fille Mal Gardée"), Kader Belarbi (3 works, including a new full-length production of "Le Corsaire"), Nils Christe, Jiri Kylian, Stijn Celis, Johan Inger, Angelin Preljocaj, William Forsythe, Jacopo Godani, Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak. Except the Bournonville and the Cramer/Dauberval, all the works in the repertory are posterior to 1978.

I used to regret not being able to travel to Toulouse (which is far from Lyon, where I live, by French standards) to see their ballet programs. Well, for the next season, I'll probably have no regrets, especially as the new repertory seems somewhat similar to what is performed by the Ballet de l'Opéra de Lyon (a company whose dancers are ballet-trained but which never performs ballet works, only modern/ crossover works created in the last three decades).

Also, about ten dancers of the company (out of 35) left, but I don't know if they were fired or chose to resign.

Kader Belarbi has no previous experience as a company director, and I have seen only choreography by him (a full-length "Wuthering Heights" for the POB, which I found rather pleasant but not especially memorable, and whose scenography was more interesting for me than its choreography itself). It's hard to predict what the company will become, and also I don't know why the reason why almost nothing of the previous repertory had been kept (was it a choice of Belarbi, or were there for example some copyright issues ?)

But I'm really afraid that it might mean that one of the only ballet companies in France (the other ones being the POB, Bordeaux, and maybe Nice as it seems to be in a better shape than a gew years ago) might become yet another modern/crossover company. I started being interested in ballet 20 years ago, as a teen-ager, and since then, the following French ballet companies disappeared or were transformed into modern/crossover companies (sometimes employing ballet-trained dancers, but without any ballet repertory):
-the Ballet du Nord (which became the Centre Chorégraphique National de Roubaix in 1995 and now is Carolyn Carlson's company)
-the Ballet de Nancy (which became the Centre Chorégraphique National - Ballet de Lorraine in 1999 after Pierre Lacotte's departure),
-the Ballet du Rhin (since Jean-Paul Gravier's departure in 1997- the only ballet works in the company's repertory now are three Balanchine works, and one Tudor work, and the company's future is a bit uncertain after the departure of its director since 1997, Bertrand d'At),
-the Ballet National de Marseille (after Marie-Claude Pietragalla's departure in 2004- a case when choosing a former POB principal as company director was pretty much catastrophic...)

I hope that the Ballet du Capitole de Toulouse won't have a similar fate.
(And if I were the parent of an aspiring ballet dancer, I'd seriously warn him/her that finding a job in a ballet company would very probably mean "moving abroad").

#3 miliosr

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 06:36 AM

Thank you, Estelle, for your excellent analysis/reportage.

Indeed, it is a radical change grom the previous repertory.

I suspected as much from my reading of the new season.

I don't know what motivated the change of direction (alas, what happens in French provincial companies often has much to do with obscure local politics), but clearly it wasn't Ms Glushak's choice.

She says that the reasons for her firing were never explained completely, and that the "real" reason might be that they wanted someone from the Paris Opera (and mentions that Kader Belarbi is a friend of hers, whom she has known for 22 years).

Interesting. I had thought she was leaving because she was ready to retire but, apparently, that was not the case.

Also, about ten dancers of the company (out of 35) left, but I don't know if they were fired or chose to resign.

Unfortunate. One wonders what the new company will look like.

But I'm really afraid that it might mean that one of the only ballet companies in France (the other ones being the POB, Bordeaux, and maybe Nice as it seems to be in a better shape than a gew years ago) might become yet another modern/crossover company. I started being interested in ballet 20 years ago, as a teen-ager, and since then, the following French ballet companies disappeared or were transformed into modern/crossover companies (sometimes employing ballet-trained dancers, but without any ballet repertory):
-the Ballet du Nord (which became the Centre Chorégraphique National de Roubaix in 1995 and now is Carolyn Carlson's company)
-the Ballet de Nancy (which became the Centre Chorégraphique National - Ballet de Lorraine in 1999 after Pierre Lacotte's departure),
-the Ballet du Rhin (since Jean-Paul Gravier's departure in 1997- the only ballet works in the company's repertory now are three Balanchine works, and one Tudor work, and the company's future is a bit uncertain after the departure of its director since 1997, Bertrand d'At),
-the Ballet National de Marseille (after Marie-Claude Pietragalla's departure in 2004- a case when choosing a former POB principal as company director was pretty much catastrophic...)

Your analysis tracks almost perfectly with that of Jean-Guillaume Bart, who despaired about classical dance in France in a whole series of interviews he gave about 5-6 years ago.

(And if I were the parent of an aspiring ballet dancer, I'd seriously warn him/her that finding a job in a ballet company would very probably mean "moving abroad").

Bart said much the same thing about Marseille after Frederic Flamand became director. He said something along the lines of, "They might as well close the school because its pupils will have no company to join once they graduate."

#4 Estelle

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 02:19 PM

Your analysis tracks almost perfectly with that of Jean-Guillaume Bart, who despaired about classical dance in France in a whole series of interviews he gave about 5-6 years ago.


Oh yes, I really agree with Jean-Guillaume Bart about that point (and also, if I remember correctly, he was quite negative about Ms Lefèvre's programming).
And there is also the dearth of real ballet choreographers in France...
It is all the sadder as there is an audience for ballet in France: most ballet productions of the POB are sold out very quickly (for example, last year, most performances of "La Bayadère" were sold out online a few hours after the opening of the online booking), there are touring Russian or Ukrainian companies (of varying quality) performing in several cities...

(And if I were the parent of an aspiring ballet dancer, I'd seriously warn him/her that finding a job in a ballet company would very probably mean "moving abroad").

Bart said much the same thing about Marseille after Frederic Flamand became director. He said something along the lines of, "They might as well close the school because its pupils will have no company to join once they graduate."


Yes indeed: it was a bit sad to see that Roland Petit left the Ballet de Marseille (for reasons which were never clearly explained- some mentioned it was for tax reasons, as he relocated to Switzerland) only a few years after the school was opened, as he had wanted to establish a school in Marseille for years.

The reasons for such changes are not very clear: sometimes it is because of some politicians who want to change things just for the sake of change (or because of some lobbying of choreographers who would like to direct a company), or who imagine that they are doing something very original, and also sometimes it is because a modern dance/ crossover company generally is less expensive than a classical company (fewer dancers, simpler costumes and sets...)

Alas, there is no ballet company in France with a real tradition: in one thread about the recent US tour of the POB, people wondered about the very long history of the company and its "continuity", but all the other companies have had a rather troubled history, and in general the repertory was completely modified at each change of director. France has always been a very
centralized country, where most decisions are taken in Paris, and where cultural budgets are far more important in Paris than in any other town (for example the Paris Opera is by far the most subsidized institution by the Ministery of Culture). What happens in other cities doesn't seem to interest much the Ministery of Culture (and there's a tendancy to believe that a former POB principal is automatically qualified to be a company director or a school director...)

Another company that I forgot to include in the list is the Ballet de Monte-Carlo (technically, not French, as it depends on Monaco, but well, it's very close to France): it still is a company with ballet-trained dancers, but its repertory, which used to include some Ballets Russes works, some Balanchine and some full-length classics under Lacotte's direction (a bit like what he did a few years later in Nancy) now includes mostly works by its director Jean-Christophe Maillot and modern dance/ crossover works.

As a consequence, I think that the only Balanchine works to be performed in France during the 2012-2013 season will be a triple bill at the Paris Opera in september-october, and that's all. Nothing in Bordeaux, Toulouse or Nice. That's quite a big contrast with the programming in the US...

#5 miliosr

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 03:43 PM


Your analysis tracks almost perfectly with that of Jean-Guillaume Bart, who despaired about classical dance in France in a whole series of interviews he gave about 5-6 years ago.

It is all the sadder as there is an audience for ballet in France: most ballet productions of the POB are sold out very quickly (for example, last year, most performances of "La Bayadère" were sold out online a few hours after the opening of the online booking), there are touring Russian or Ukrainian companies (of varying quality) performing in several cities...

In the interviews I read, Bart was quite critical of the French government on this point. He felt that the government was pushing modern/contemporary dance on the public even though the true thirst was for the classical dance. (He should run for office although I don't know if he's cut out for public life given how shy and retiring he seems.)

As a consequence, I think that the only Balanchine works to be performed in France during the 2012-2013 season will be a triple bill at the Paris Opera in september-october, and that's all. Nothing in Bordeaux, Toulouse or Nice. That's quite a big contrast with the programming in the US...

Quite a contrast! I'm definitely in the minority on this board when it comes to this subject but, often, I feel that Balanchine is overprogrammed in the United States. With so many former Balanchine dancers running companies running here, Balanchine reigns supreme. Meanwhile, the Tudor repertory, with the exception of Jardin aux Lilas, goes largely unseen except at small companies like New York Theatre Ballet. (ABT, which should be the custodian for Tudor's work, has largely abandoned Tudor in favor of the big, money-spinning three-acters that pack the Met in New York.)

#6 sandik

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 04:03 PM

I'm definitely in the minority on this board when it comes to this subject but, often, I feel that Balanchine is overprogrammed in the United States. With so many former Balanchine dancers running companies running here, Balanchine reigns supreme. Meanwhile, the Tudor repertory, with the exception of Jardin aux Lilas, goes largely unseen except at small companies like New York Theatre Ballet. (ABT, which should be the custodian for Tudor's work, has largely abandoned Tudor in favor of the big, money-spinning three-acters that pack the Met in New York.)


I don't agree with you about the Balanchine rep being "overprogrammed" but you will not get any argument from me about Tudor -- it's a small rep in comparison to many of his contemporaries, but a wonderful collection of works, and a great addition to a company's repertoire, especially if they are looking for character or emotion-driven performance.

#7 Estelle

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 01:06 PM

In the interviews I read, Bart was quite critical of the French government on this point. He felt that the government was pushing modern/contemporary dance on the public even though the true thirst was for the classical dance. (He should run for office although I don't know if he's cut out for public life given how shy and retiring he seems.)


Modern dance companies have been subsidized quite a lot since the 1980s by the French government (ministère de la Culture) and at a more local level ("régions", "départements", cities). It seems to me that modern dance people used to be almost "invisible" and under-subsidized in France until the 1980s, but gradually obtained more power and influence and now it's a bit the opposite.
For example, I remember reading an interviw of Guy Darmet, former director of the Maison de la Danse de Lyon between 1980 and 2012 (a theater which programs almost only dance, the only one of its kind in France, which is quite successful with 15000 yearly subscribers) and of the Lyon Biennale festival between 1984 and 2010, who fought for modern dance in France for decades, in which he complained that ballet in France was slowly disappearing.

Meanwhile, the Tudor repertory, with the exception of Jardin aux Lilas, goes largely unseen except at small companies like New York Theatre Ballet. (ABT, which should be the custodian for Tudor's work, has largely abandoned Tudor in favor of the big, money-spinning three-acters that pack the Met in New York.)


Seeing Tudor works in France is nearly impossible now (the POB had included several Tudor works in its repertory in the mid-1980s under Nureyev's direction, but they are performed very rarely now).

#8 miliosr

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 04:32 PM

Meanwhile, the Tudor repertory, with the exception of Jardin aux Lilas, goes largely unseen except at small companies like New York Theatre Ballet. (ABT, which should be the custodian for Tudor's work, has largely abandoned Tudor in favor of the big, money-spinning three-acters that pack the Met in New York.)

Seeing Tudor works in France is nearly impossible now (the POB had included several Tudor works in its repertory in the mid-1980s under Nureyev's direction, but they are performed very rarely now).

At least the French have some semblance of an excuse as Tudor was never central to the classical dance in France. ABT, meanwhile, fritters away its inheritance. A banner year for Tudor at ABT is one Tudor ballet during the Fall season at City Center and one Tudor ballet on a mixed bill during the Spring season at the Met. And ABT can't even use as an excuse the idea that there are no decent Tudor interpreters in its ranks. In recent years, current and former ballerinas such as Julie Kent, Amanda McKerrow, Gillian Murphy, Veronika Part and Michele Wiles all found success in the Tudor repertory.

I doubt Tudor has any future in France based on present circumstances. Madame Lefevre is uninterested and Kader Belarbi, based on the recently released programming choices for 2012-13, is really uninterested in Tudor's brand of dance theater. So, I suppose, that would leave Charles Jude but I doubt his starveling company could afford to go off in such an esoteric direction as Tudor.


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