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Mathilde Froustey

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AT a NYCB gala a few years ago Peter Martins invited etoiles Dupont and Heymann to dance the pdd from Rubies. It was the worst performance of that ballet I had ever seen, and looked nothing like the style of the NYCB dancers. I don't think neoclassical ballet is a strength of POB dancers.

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Reviving works no one else is doing – like Illuminations, though the good and evil themes might not read as they once did – is a great idea and would give the audience something to really look forward to. Maybe a whole program called "1952" (or "1933").

Ballet 1933! What a great idea. ;)

AT a NYCB gala a few years ago Peter Martins invited etoiles Dupont and Heymann to dance the pdd from Rubies. It was the worst performance of that ballet I had ever seen, and looked nothing like the style of the NYCB dancers. I don't think neoclassical ballet is a strength of POB dancers.

I know what you are saying about the stylistic differences (though I thoroughly enjoy Dupont and Belarbi on the DVD version of Jewels). But the POB (Bolshoi, Mariinsky, etc.) versions are not going to be close reproductions of the original roles. Companies are given too much leeway when 'trying on' a ballet for that to ever happen. They would have to be schooled in the approach/style. And for a lot longer than 3 weeks. I don't want to see Froustey lose her POB style; I would just like to see her modify it successfully when a particular ballet demands a different approach.

This is out of left field, but I was thinking of what Janie Taylor could be doing post-retirement. How about teaching the Balanchine 'method' as a permanent class in the San Francisco Ballet School? Taylor at least, cares about how things were done originally:

A majority of Taylor’s repertory is made up of Balanchine ballets, and to prepare, she requests videotapes (“the oldest thing I could get my hands on”) from the company video archives. She also spends time at the Performing Arts Library at Lincoln Center studying VHS tapes of the original Balanchine casts. Taylor was fortunate to participate in several filmed coaching sessions for the George Balanchine Foundation, led by former dancers including Allegra Kent and Violette Verdy, who originated roles. Taylor says their instruction was illuminating but that there are only a “small handful” of NYCB dancers today who are interested in how Balanchine ballets were originally danced; many debut principal roles without ever having seen the ballet. [An Echo of Balanchine]

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This is out of left field, but I was thinking of what Janie Taylor could be doing post-retirement. How about teaching the Balanchine 'method' as a permanent class in the San Francisco Ballet School? Taylor at least, cares about how things were done originally ...

I don't really know what San Francisco Ballet's relation to the Balanchine repertoire is these days. Gloria Govrin taught at the school between 1999 and 2005 according to SFB's Wikipedia entry, and there seemed to be more Balanchine works presented during that period than in recent years. A dancer I talked to then thought that GG was putting too much emphasis on Balanchine technique, and another said flatly "Balanchine is the past," at the same time he was being cast in some unfortunate, never to be seen again, new pieces.

The arts in San Francisco have been in a conservative mode in the past decade or so. The very progressive head of the opera, Pamela Rosenberg, was let go – as were the curators at the Fine Arts Museums, so that we only have had a succession of costume and not terribly interesting painting shows at the deYoung. The same people who are on the museum boards go to the ballet and maybe they have a say in what is presented. Anyway you have to be a Kremlinologist to figure it all out.

Yes, it will be interesting to see what Mathilde Froustey will do in things like the big Ratmansky program coming up. She was in From Foreign Lands, but that was lighter going – Moritz Moszkowski vs Dimitri Shostakovich.

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The Shostakovich Trilogy principal casting is on the SBF website. Froustey is dancing in all performances, either in Chamber Symphony or Symphony No. 9. Lorena Feijoo, Sarah Van Patten, and Simone Messmer are also each cast in two different parts of the Trilogy, dancing each night. I know from her facebook page that Vanessa Zahorian had been rehearsing for Chamber Symphony, but she is obviously still out with the foot injury.

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The Shostakovich Trilogy principal casting is on the SBF website. Froustey is dancing in all performances, either in Chamber Symphony or Symphony No. 9. Lorena Feijoo, Sarah Van Patten, and Simone Messmer are also each cast in two different parts of the Trilogy, dancing each night. I know from her facebook page that Vanessa Zahorian had been rehearsing for Chamber Symphony, but she is obviously still out with the foot injury.

That should make some people happy, for a night or two.

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Mademoiselle Froustey's performance of Giselle (along with a host of others) with SFB is now up at:

http://vimeo.com/86094211

I found her simply lovely. She has a marvellously expressive face, and her acting is very natural and believable. The dancing is just so warm, open and engaging. I found that in Act 2 I was watching her face almost more than I was her limbs; that's how committed to the role she appeared to be. In the mad scene, I could trace the progression of her descent because the acting/mime was so clear and honest. Altogether, it was a very good production; only Tiit Helimets' costume in the first act struck a discordant note as the bottom half was so tight and flesh-coloured that it looked like he was dancing half naked.

To be honest, I find Froustey a million times more appealing and engaging than many of POB's principal ladies whose performances I've seen online. I can't believe that she was passed over for promotion; that those other said ladies were considered superior. SFB had better do everything in its power not to let Froustey go; she is a treasure.

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And here's a digest video of Mathilde Froustey in Paris Opera Ballet's Don Quixote last month.

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To be honest, I find Froustey a million times more appealing and engaging than many of POB's principal ladies whose performances I've seen online. I can't believe that she was passed over for promotion; that those other said ladies were considered superior. SFB had better do everything in its power not to let Froustey go; she is a treasure.

Froustey has not performed well in the Concours (she even says that in the Pointe article). And the Concours is how you get promoted at POB. She's also a very emotive actress, in the style of Isabelle Ciaravola and Clairemarie Osta, both of whom were promoted very late in their careers. If you look at the dancers who have been promoted rapidly in the past 10 or 15 years, such as Aurelie Dupont, Dorothee Gilbert and Amandine Albisson, their style is fairly similar -- and quite different from Froustey's IMO.

I'm glad she's finding success in the US. It was depressing to continually see her onstage in demi-soloist roles.

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To be honest, I find Froustey a million times more appealing and engaging than many of POB's principal ladies whose performances I've seen online. I can't believe that she was passed over for promotion; that those other said ladies were considered superior. SFB had better do everything in its power not to let Froustey go; she is a treasure.

Froustey has not performed well in the Concours (she even says that in the Pointe article). And the Concours is how you get promoted at POB. She's also a very emotive actress, in the style of Isabelle Ciaravola and Clairemarie Osta, both of whom were promoted very late in their careers. If you look at the dancers who have been promoted rapidly in the past 10 or 15 years, such as Aurelie Dupont, Dorothee Gilbert and Amandine Albisson, their style is fairly similar -- and quite different from Froustey's IMO.

I'm glad she's finding success in the US. It was depressing to continually see her onstage in demi-soloist roles.

I've seen Dupont in a number of things and have not been impressed at all (your mileage may vary, of course). I don't know, maybe one has to see some of these performances live to better appreciate them.

Actually, I recall reading some reviews and comments of POB dancers' performances abroad (galas and tours and what not), and none of them were very effusive at all. They all went something like, we were expecting great things from the famed Paris Opera Ballet and this is what we got instead...

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I do not consider myself a great admirer of Dupont, but in person she does register strongly in a way that film probably does not capture. I have to admit that I was left unmoved by her Giselle, through there was much about her performance that was very beautiful, but in the Adage in Suite en Blanc she had the unmistakable and august aura of a true ballerina. I also had a tough time imagining how she could pull off Béjart's Boléro, especially after seeing Nicolas Le Riche (force of nature) and Marie-Agnès Gillot (femme fatale nonpareil) in the same part, but she brought a sphinx-like inscrutability to the piece that was completely successful.

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Interview with Mademoiselle Froustey for BCBG:

http://vimeo.com/89036581

Her voice sounds like music and is so adorable, she is so effortlessly chic and lovely, and is just so French!

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You will find Mlle Froustey's recent Kitri with the Paris Opera Ballet in Tokyo on her Mathilde Froustey danseuse facebook page. Definitely worth a look!

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Great conversation thread, great media links. Thank you, all! She's so fascinating, and I'd love to see her stay at the SFB. But that clock is ticking for her to make the big decision. Sounds like she's torn, as one would imagine she'd be. Anyone care to hazard a guess as to which company she will go with for next season?

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I think she should stay at SFB -- even though that means I don't get to see her! In SF, she's a principal, she's well cast, she's been very well-received, etc. In Paris she has a lot of competition at the sujet level. But aside from any personal reasons she may have for wanting to go back to Paris, the lure of POB is very strong. For many of them it's POB or nothing. (Very few POB dancers move permanently to other companies -- the only principal I can think of is Sylvie Gulliem and that was 20 years ago -- and very few students from L'ecole de danse audition for other companies if they aren't hired by POB).

However there will be a new AD in Paris next season, so who knows how that changes things.

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If the road to promotion is the Concours, and she admits that she has not done well in that test, then what has changed that would lead her to believe she might be more successful at the Concours now? All the reasons she had for uprooting from POB and moving to SFB are probably still valid today. Having been the toast of the town at SFB, would she be happy to returning to lesser roles at POB? I doubt it. In addition, I would hate to think that SFB invested its resources in teaching her various roles, only to have her leave after a year.

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Considering that SFB is doing Giselle, R&J and Don Quixote next year, I highly doubt that Froustey would have left by next season when she's likely to be cast in the leading roles of all three of those ballets.

Helgi may even be bringing those ballets next season because of her, or partly because of her - I remember reading or hearing that he asks his dancers which roles they would most like to essay, and then decides which ballets to stage based on that consensus.

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If the road to promotion is the Concours, and she admits that she has not done well in that test, then what has changed that would lead her to believe she might be more successful at the Concours now? All the reasons she had for uprooting from POB and moving to SFB are probably still valid today. Having been the toast of the town at SFB, would she be happy to returning to lesser roles at POB? I doubt it. In addition, I would hate to think that SFB invested its resources in teaching her various roles, only to have her leave after a year.

What you are saying is of course logical, but the impression I get, is that she is still emotionally drawn to Paris and the POB. If her 'big dream' was to dance as a soloist for the POB, then it is going to be hard to give up on that dream entirely. unfortunately, things just aren't set up by other people to realize all our dreams. ;)

Kochetkova is living proof that a principal position - way out West, as it were, can be the basis for a full career. But it takes someone like Masha, with her entrepreneurial spirit, to work to make it happen. The average dancer doesn't have that same level of drive, and I'm not sure if Froustey wants to have to work to that level. In leaving POB, I believe she would have to give up on receiving any kind of pension at the end of her career. That is a consideration as well. Sylvie Guillem couldn't be bothered with the pension, but that's Guillem. These days, people are worried about financial security.

She's young, and won't necessarily be able to make the 'smart' decision - to stay in SF - to forward her career. Friends, family, and a culture you are comfortable in, are very important. If she were 35, she might be more likely to say, "Well, I've done this. Now I'd like to live in another country for 10 years, or more!" But in one's 20's, it's all about making your oriignal dream happen - do or die!

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Just because - Froustey and Kochetkova:

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We are getting closer to finding out whether Mlle Froustey will stay with SFB. I personally hope so.

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My personal assessment has been that she definitely adds an elegant and lovely 'flavor' to the mix, as well as strong technique for the traditional roles. The woman does leg beats as fast as a hummingbird's wings. ;)

She helps to make this a very strong team of female Principals.

I love the contrasting styles I now see among the Principals (and I'm counting Messmer as a Principal, though technically she's not). In the performances I've seen Froustey in, I got the feeling that she was just scratching the surface of what she can do - Froustey could hold up under further challenges, though she has admitted that she's a "slow learner". I don't really see it being a problem if she doesn't dance constantly - there are so many qualified soloists wanting a crack at the top roles. And imagine what it would have been like if Vanessa Zahorian had not been injured - fewer opportunities to see your particular favorites. Though I suppose Masha K. would have liked to have not danced so much. ;)

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I do not consider myself a great admirer of Dupont, but in person she does register strongly in a way that film probably does not capture. I have to admit that I was left unmoved by her Giselle, through there was much about her performance that was very beautiful, but in the Adage in Suite en Blanc she had the unmistakable and august aura of a true ballerina. I also had a tough time imagining how she could pull off Béjart's Boléro, especially after seeing Nicolas Le Riche (force of nature) and Marie-Agnès Gillot (femme fatale nonpareil) in the same part, but she brought a sphinx-like inscrutability to the piece that was completely successful.

Well, volcanohunter, I wasn't either until I saw her dance in the POB performances you mention. I agree completely with abatt's earlier description of her in 'Rubies' (what an error to cast her in that for the DVD and Osta, who is perfect for 'Rubies,' in 'Emeralds')--the worst performance I've ever seen in the role, including Heather Watts!--but those perfomances in Chicago completely changed my mind. She was SUPERB (as were Le RIche and Gillot) in Bolero and that pas de deux in 'Suite en Blanc' was magisterial. I've rarely seen a smoother, more flawless performance of anything from any ballerina. Dupont is cold--there it is--but what a technician, and what a performer.

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I also saw Dupont in Chicago in "Suite en Blanc" and "Bolero" and found her superb. I have seen her as both Gamzatti and Nikiya in "La Bayadere" and would echo all the adjectives used by jsmu, except I find her subtle and never cold. She has a composure and an allure that I find beautiful.

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It's still beyond me why she wasn't nominated as an étoile in Paris (...)

I had great expectations at the beginning of the season. To begin with, I admire refined qualities of French la danse classique. Last Winter in Paris I have been amply rewarded with observing on several occasions the finesse of the French school in ballet classes conducted by a renowned pedagogue (one young ballerina I saw was absolutely extraordinary, a true poetess of dance). Next, Froustey's outstanding frame is a rarity even among ballerinas and a thing to behold. I love her light touch and upper body (except for the face and the eyes whose placement and movement is not well coordinated with the arms and wrists), so I always was eagerly expecting her performances. However, as the season progressed, and I saw her around 20 times if not more, her weaknesses and limitations were becoming more and more noticeable and her charms less and less appealing. In order to attain the étoile level she has to address those weaknesses and devote all her energies to eradicate them. I sincerely hope she does and I truly wish she becomes an outstanding ballerina. At the moment, however, she is not at the étoile level.

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