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Millepied to Head Paris Opera Ballet(Updated thread title)


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Poll: Who Should Succeed Madame Lefevre? (35 member(s) have cast votes)

Who Should Succeed Madame Lefevre?

  1. Carolyn Carlson (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  2. Frederic Flamand (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  3. William Forsythe (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  4. Sylvie Guillem (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  5. Laurent Hilaire (6 votes [17.14%])

    Percentage of vote: 17.14%

  6. Nicolas Le Riche (2 votes [5.71%])

    Percentage of vote: 5.71%

  7. Manuel Legris (23 votes [65.71%])

    Percentage of vote: 65.71%

  8. Wayne MacGregor (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  9. Benjamin Millepied (2 votes [5.71%])

    Percentage of vote: 5.71%

  10. Alexei Ratmansky (2 votes [5.71%])

    Percentage of vote: 5.71%

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#76 Nanarina

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 08:39 AM

Millepied as the new director of the famous Paris Opera Ballet.... the minute I read it my hopes dropped. and I cannot help feeling more than a moderate sense of disgust. My thoughts go to the more deserving long served members of the company like Laurent Hilaire and his contempories. . I feel that this choice is far from satisfactory and the reputation and history of this wonderful company stand to lose a lot of it's prestige under him. My feelings were soewhat similar when Wayne Macgregor was made house choreographer at the Royal Ballet. . I could imagine people like Sir Fred and Sir Kenneth turning in their graves.

Back to Millipied, I remember watching a video clip of him rehearsing Aurelie Dupont and Nicholas Le Riche in one of his ballets. The look on his face was of complete distain, showing no appreciation of their efforts or talent. It was obvious he had very little idea of how to react to people or
guide them through the choreography. My sympathies lie with the dancers in Paris if he is to be involved. There are so many other more experienced and talented people who could have filled the vacant position. Who have run the top companies and proven their capabilities. It is a sad day for a institute with 300 years of history behind it. If he was such good prospect then why was he not promoted in the USA ?

#77 Cygnet

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 08:52 AM

If he was such good prospect then why was he not promoted in the USA ?

Bingo!

#78 Helene

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 09:58 AM

For what position? I haven't heard of a major US company that is looking for a new head in a city that would tempt him or his wife.

He was recruited for the position, and he is French, after all.

POB is a machine and an institution. I don't see how he will damage its reputation, as he hasn't convinced the government to take a small classical company and turn it into a vehicle for his own modern dance, like Duato did in Spain, and the school will continue to produce dancers in the company style. Millelied's connections in the dance world don't point to anythink terribly radical.

#79 sandik

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 10:39 AM

But I would confirm what Helene wrote; support for the arts is generally considered in France to be government business. But as an aside, I was interested to see when I was in Venice recently that a number of restoration projects were being funded by companies such as Prada.


We've been watching arts money wax and wane for several years now -- I'm thinking particularly about the recent cuts in government support for the arts in the UK, but that's just one example of what I think is a trend. I was watching Dancing for Dollars last weekend, and was reminded that one of the elements that fostered those tours of the Bolshoi and the Kirov/Maryinsky companies after the USSR began to disassemble was need to raise funds -- the tour that was shown in the film was not successful, but others had been. Alongside that kind of change, remember the shift in cultural funding after the reunification of Germany -- where every mid-sized town had a state-supported opera house with some kind of ballet/dance company attached in the past, those funding structures have been gradually changing.

I don't really know that Millepied's experiences as a fundraiser for a nascent, small contemporary ensemble had much to do with his hiring for the POB directorship, but I would be willing to bet that part of his job description in Paris will be to create and nurture new, likely private, funding sources -- the economic challenges that France is facing, on its own and as a member of the EU, will change all kinds of national funding policies, for the arts, and for everything else.

#80 LiLing

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 12:04 PM

I think the choice of Millepied may indicate a desire to continue Mme. Lefevre's policy of introducing modern and post modern work, Cunningham, Brown etc. while maintaining the classical repertoire, Millepied's own work however, is not modern dance. Millepied, like Forsythe, works from a base of the academic classical ballet vocabulary. Some consider their work part of the evolution of contemporary ballet, as Balanchine is seen. Others see distortion and pollution. Chacun à son goût but modern dance it is not.

Millepied's background doesn't augur well for his maintenance of the classics, but then there are others on staff for that. I guess all we can do now is hold our breath and hope for the best!

#81 Nanarina

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 01:02 PM

I think the choice of Millepied may indicate a desire to continue Mme. Lefevre's policy of introducing modern and post modern work, Cunningham, Brown etc. while maintaining the classical repertoire, Millepied's own work however, is not modern dance. Millepied, like Forsythe, works from a base of the academic classical ballet vocabulary. Some consider their work part of the evolution of contemporary ballet, as Balanchine is seen. Others see distortion and pollution. Chacun à son goût but modern dance it is not.

Millepied's background doesn't augur well for his maintenance of the classics, but then there are others on staff for that. I guess all we can do now is hold our breath and hope for the best!

Yes and passing out in the process while the possibility of his own work taking prioritty in the theme of things is a real danger. Hopefully by just waiting and seeing it will not be too late to rescue the company repertoire if need be. And as far as comparing Millepied with George Balanchine in the terms of his work, there is no comparison . Mr B was a genieus a great choreographer in many different forms., a knowledable Author and musician. .From what I have seen of Millepieds efforts they need a lot to be desired.

#82 Helene

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 01:42 PM

It would have been interesting to see what Balanchine would have done with Paris Opera Ballet had his health been better and had he not been forced to cede to Serge Lifar.

Balanchine had companies made around him, but even in groups for whom he made major works, like Ballet Caravan and the post-Diaghilev Ballets Russes, his work wasn't the majority of what was performed. His dominance at Ballet Society and NYCB was to be expected, since the company was built around him.

Paris Opera Ballet is a different kettle of fish. Nureyev dominated the classics, which Millepied has shown little interest in doing. Presenting works in two major venues for a very long season, sometimes concurrently, is a huge task. Millepied isn't unusually prolific, and although he may prove to be a commanding leader, there's nothing in any of his biography to suggest the type of dominance and lack of shame that Nureyev had, and he certainly doesn't come with the Russian pedigree that Nureyev was able to flaunt, even when he was adding solos for himself and questionable passages to the classics. The reason why Nureyev managed for so long was that enough dancers believed in him and supported him, and even when they hated him they appreciated how he pushed them. I'm not aware of any who wouldn't have conceded that he breathed new life into the company and raised the standards.

I don't think it would be possible for Millipied, even if he had the inclination to do so, to have his own work dominate. He'll have the adminstrative duties and politicing for which Lefebre seemed to be both a natural and a master, casting, personnel, sets, costumes, rep planning in a company with hundreds of dancers, choreographers and stagers to manage, etc. He's neither a company insider with intricated knowledge of the alliances and unspoken rules, nor has he direct experience with the type of bureacracy he'll encounter, nor has he had administrative experience, also like Lefebre did. Lefebre didn't need time to choreograph and the mental space to be creative. If he doesn't gain the respect of the dancers for his ability to run the company, I suspect they won't co-operate. I'm hoping, though, as a former dancer, that he can rationalize some of the casting decisions, with better distribution, and like anyone new coming in, he'll have a fresh eye.

In this kind of environment, it is difficult to create change. It's not like at the Royal Ballet, a pretty young company in the scheme of things, started by a woman with a singular vision, where one great choreographer was replaced by another -- much loved by many -- and a loss of the great company style and schooling only after a few decades. Paris Opera Ballet may have had its lulls, but from reading the histories, it seems to me that it's a company of dancers and a strict and ongoing schooling, rather than choreographers or repertory. It's centuries old. There is no shortage of dance student and dancers or the need to import them: no need to follow the ABT model, which the Royal Ballet does. It's been run by an administrator for almost two decades, not by an inspiring artist, and the same institutional robustness that makes change difficult is an obstacle to destruction as well as an obstacle to progress, especially for someone who has to learn the ropes and hasn't established well-placed allies.

It's not that I think the appointment is brilliant -- I still suspect that it was done at least in part to avoid creating a schism by choosing between Hilaire and Legris -- but I don't think it's disastrous.

#83 puppytreats

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 08:09 AM

there's nothing in any of his biography to suggest the type of dominance and lack of shame that Nureyev had, and he certainly doesn't come with the Russian pedigree that Nureyev was able to flaunt, even when he was adding solos for himself and questionable passages to the classics. The only reason why Nureyev managed for so long was that enough dancers believed in him and supported him, and even when they hated him they appreciated how he pushed them. I'm not aware of any who wouldn't have conceded that he breathed new life into the company and raised the standards.

Helene,
In other posts, you have alluded to dissatisfaction with Rudi Nureyev's work at POB. Can you amplify this? I have only seen his choreography in SB and DQ.

#84 Nanarina

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 03:23 PM

In some respects I agree That Nureyev was a hard task master, you only had to see how he drove his own career, to understand what was behind his expectations for the dancers during his time in Paris. As for him adding solo's for himself into the classics, this was part of his endeavor to promote the male dancer. When you consider the long solo for the prince in his sleeping beauty during the vision scene although somewhat too long, it is quite beautiful. Also the Pas de cinq in the Wedding scene, again he has enhanced the male variation, and made it more enjoyable, with the choice of music and choreography.

However, there are parts I simply think where he has spoilt the original choreography and altered it, making it appear fussy and hard to dance. His idea of character dance is very lacking of style and presentation, compared to the original, or the Russian way of performing it. His choreography is too "Balletic" with leaps and jumps, where the format should be much more grounded. and featuring a demi plie. A prime example being the dances in his Swan Lake Act 3.for the POB.. I do not feel he failed to give the POB the experience of his talent or pushed them forward.

When it comes to other companies and their employment of Artistic Directors some give confidence to the potential audience who after all together with funding are the back bone of their financial well being. I still cannot feel other than disapointed in the choice of Mr Millepied for the POB. Time will tell if I continue to go there after my favourite dancers retire. If not my loyalties will return to English National and The Royal Ballet, who are now getting full of foreign dancers., The reason I love the POB is it's long heritage and unque style.

#85 Helene

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 03:25 PM

Helene,
In other posts, you have alluded to dissatisfaction with Rudi Nureyev's work at POB. Can you amplify this? I have only seen his choreography in SB and DQ.

Nanarina said it better than I could.

#86 dirac

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 04:44 PM

I would add that Nureyev’s "pedigree," arrogance, and willingness to push his dancers might not have made a big difference without his wonderful eye for talent, which certainly contributed to his dancers’ belief. He came in, looked everyone over, saw who was good and didn’t wait to promote them.

#87 Helene

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 05:48 PM

Absolutely, even when it shook the traditional hierarchy. It's amazing that decades after Hilaire and Legris were promoted by Nureyev, they ended up competitng for the same top job.

#88 sandik

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 12:12 AM

I would add that Nureyev’s "pedigree," arrogance, and willingness to push his dancers might not have made a big difference without his wonderful eye for talent, which certainly contributed to his dancers’ belief. He came in, looked everyone over, saw who was good and didn’t wait to promote them.


I remember seeing several of his choices in those "N and Friends" tours he would arrange -- they just knocked me flat.

#89 hydraulix

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 07:52 AM

Wouldn't it be even worse for both Hilaire and Legris that they are passed over by the younger Milliepied? Legris however is working in Vienna, but Hilaire is still in Paris. I can't imagine how it must feel for him: a younger man soon to be the artistic director, with little to no insight about the Paris school, the company, the classical works. Also the hierarchy, the beaurocracy. I'm holding my breath and share the same opinion with Nanarina. It's still one of my favorite companies, there is still something magical about them (indeed the long heritage, the unique style). No improvement without movement, but let's not forget what the POB is all about.

Helene: you couldn't have said it better in post #82

#90 Amy Reusch

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 11:01 AM

It does seem there would be something to having an artistic director who had come through the school. It would seem the school and company would have their own subculture with a lot unsaid that is simply known diplomatically by having come through the system. I can't quite see Millepied having the same sort of fiat a superstar like Nureyev had, to walk through those cantilevered relationships blind. Ballet is Ballet, but a company like the Paris Opera is an organism all of its own. Perhaps if he comes in and fails they will be more than happy to take one of their own as AD?


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