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The Millepied Era at the Paris Opera Ballet


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#16 miliosr

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 03:22 AM

Miliosr, don't you think his Balanchine repertoire connections were part of his appeal to whomever chose him?

I think that was part of it -- but only a part (and not even the major part.)  I see his hiring as having everything to do with installing a glamorous head at the POB who could draw significant amounts of private funding.  Given the parlous state of the French economy, finding other funding sources for the company is a priority.  And who better to do it than the handsome Millepied and his movie star wife?  That he makes dances and has connections throughout the international dance world to various living choreographers and successor trusts (Balanchine, Cunningham, Robbins) just adds to the appeal.

 

That being said, if he tries to jettison the various historical tendencies (Legitimist, Nureyevist, Lefevrist) within the POB in favor of imposing a New York-centric vision on it, I think he will fail.  The person Millepied should look to as a cautionary tale is Mikhail Baryshnikov, who tried -- and failed -- to change ABT too radically in the 80s from what it had been historically.  I guess what I'm saying is that moderation would be the best path for him as he moves forward with his plans for 2015-16.



#17 Amy Reusch

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 05:53 AM

NYCB has a tradition of running a lot of rep simultaneously rather than a week of this two weeks of that... But they train for their repertoire and it is more similar perhaps than the breadth of the POB repertoire. Living in the US, it is harder for me to see enough POB on video to have a sense of what repertoire is at risk. Could you give examples? Is it the Lifar work? Lacotte? Is there older rep? (except for the Lacotte Sylphide, isn't the older rep a come-back from Russia?) [I am not making argument points, just trying to learn]. Is it the style that is at risk? Wouldn't the school protect that? What is Legitimist?



#18 abatt

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 06:14 AM

 

 The person Millepied should look to as a cautionary tale is Mikhail Baryshnikov, who tried -- and failed -- to change ABT too radically in the 80s from what it had been historically.  I guess what I'm saying is that moderation would be the best path for him as he moves forward with his plans for 2015-16.

 

 

With Baryshnikov, his experimentation  was a disaster for ABT's bottom line.  Millepied doesn't have to worry quite so much about that because of signficant government funding for the POB. 



#19 sandik

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 07:44 AM

 


 

I'm glad Millepied is interested in developing in-house talent. I would hope that isn't just synonymous with young talent though and extends to include Jean-Guillaume Bart, massively underutilised by the company, and Florence Clerc. Clerc seems like a strong producer but has never been commissioned to reproduce something, but then this is an incredibly talented coach whose lack of promotion to at the very least assistant ballet master has never made much sense...

 

 

I don't follow the company closely right now, but I'm old enough to remember the incredible hullabaloo when Nureyev came in and promoted a group of very young dances, Le Riche among them, and then continued to feature them, both at home and on tour with his own "and Friends" performances. 



#20 sandik

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 07:45 AM



NYCB has a tradition of running a lot of rep simultaneously rather than a week of this two weeks of that... But they train for their repertoire and it is more similar perhaps than the breadth of the POB repertoire. Living in the US, it is harder for me to see enough POB on video to have a sense of what repertoire is at risk. Could you give examples? Is it the Lifar work? Lacotte? Is there older rep? (except for the Lacotte Sylphide, isn't the older rep a come-back from Russia?) [I am not making argument points' just trying to learn]. Is it the style that is at risk? Wouldn't the school protect that? What is Legitimist?

 

All good questions -- could someone here please lay out a short report for those of us that aren't as caught up with recent developments?!



#21 miliosr

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 07:56 AM

What I refer to as the “Legitimist” tendency in the POB, is that effort to maintain that very particular French style, which is distinct from any other ballet style.  The school is the primary guardian of the style (and its underlying training base) and, in that sense, it is a traditionalist bulwark against so-called “innovators” who want the POB to adopt the current “international” style or to become more modern/postmodern/contemporary dance in style.

 

This is a very strong tendency at the POB and it manifests itself in positive and negative ways.  The positive tendency can be seen in how the training (technical and stylistic) manifests itself perfectly in Giselle or Lifar’s Suite en Blanc (both seen on display in the United States in 2012) or Balanchine’s Palais de Cristal (which Balanchine made specifically for the POB dancers.)  The negative tendency can be seen as a deep suspicion of, and hostility to, any innovation at all (frequently to the point of reaction.)  (Whether the Lacotte reconstructions fall into the first category or the second I’ll leave up to Ballet Talkers to decide.)

 

In recent interviews with Ballet Review, the etoiles Karl Paquette and Dorothee Gilbert both remarked that the training at the school doesn’t really lend itself to the Nureyev productions of the classics (or, by implication, to the hyper-modern programming of Madame Lefevre.)  If Millepied tries to impose yet another tendency on the dancers (that tendency being a New York City Ballet-postmodernist New York-L.A. Dance Project one), then he will have added a fourth development to an already muddled and contradictory picture.  If he tries to supplant the Legitimist and Nureyevist tendencies entirely with his own vision of dance, I think he will be in for a world of hurt.  (I don’t see anything in his background that is incompatible with Lefevre’s modern/postmodern/contemporary programming aesthetic.)

 

All of this is speculation on my part.  One thing that is certain is that he won’t be the one controlling the school.  So, whatever his plans are, he will still have to contend with the school as an independent entity under Elisabeth Platel.  (And she said as much in The New Yorker profile, when she fired an icy shot across the bow by saying that the institution/tradition is bigger than all of us.)



#22 Amy Reusch

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 08:34 AM

Good for Platel... for all we know, the Millepied era might be brief...  the school should not change direction whichever way the latest breeze blows...  I applaud the French for trying to keep alive their style... one of the side effects of the modern global village is that regional influence and development are much diminished.  (Sometimes I actually wish choreographers and companies were more isolated!)



#23 sandik

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 08:56 AM

  (Sometimes I actually wish choreographers and companies were more isolated!)

 

I've had that thought as well, as much for the developmental process of choreographers as anything else.  I think sometimes the pressure to be the next big sensation makes it hard for a young choreographer to teach him/herself the lessons that they need to learn.



#24 miliosr

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 02:31 PM

Interesting:

 

http://www.gramilano...see-lefevre-go/

 

Now that Madame Lefevre is on the way out, the long knives are starting to come out . . .



#25 cinnamonswirl

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 06:57 PM

If Abbagnato wants to be successful running the Opera di Roma it might behoove her to learn to be more diplomatic. She's lucky Lefevre promoted her as a parting gift IMO.



#26 tomorrow

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 11:51 PM

If Abbagnato wants to be successful running the Opera di Roma it might behoove her to learn to be more diplomatic. She's lucky Lefevre promoted her as a parting gift IMO.

Yes Abbagnato has always been fiercely critical of Lefevre (and her programming choices) but the reactions to her promotion to etoile were rather polarised. I find Mme quite confusing generally though. Manuel Legris was too conservative to run the POB, Laurent Hilaire, whilst great, worried her because he might be too into the modern, yet Nicolas Le Riche, who has similar tastes in repoirtoire to Hilaire anyway, was her preferred choice if the job couldn't go to an outsider. I think it's safe to say Abbagnato won't be dancing in the Grand Foyer or in a metro station anytime soon though so I'm not sure why Millepied's a hit already.

Brigitte Lefevre's interview in Télérama, where she admits feeling stung by a remark from Millepied. There's also an interview in Têtu (not online, excerpt on Dansomanie) where Lefevre briefly mentions she has found the unkindness from dancers difficult.

#27 miliosr

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 02:07 PM

Loosely translated, Madame Lefevre's comments about Millepied are as follows:

 

"I was hurt when he told the press he wanted to bring modernity to the Opera.  It has not pleased me.  The little girl in me winced: She [the little girl] wanted to be told that she had worked".  That last bit about "she had worked" is a bad translation.  I think what Lefevre was expressing was that she had been successful with her programming or management.  Maybe one of our French correspondents can provide a better translation.



#28 cinnamonswirl

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 04:20 PM

Loosely translated, Madame Lefevre's comments about Millepied are as follows:

 

"I was hurt when he told the press he wanted to bring modernity to the Opera.  It has not pleased me.  The little girl in me winced: She [the little girl] wanted to be told that she had worked".  That last bit about "she had worked" is a bad translation.  I think what Lefevre was expressing was that she had been successful with her programming or management.  Maybe one of our French correspondents can provide a better translation.

 

I would translate it ("bien travaillé") as "done a good job." It's often used a compliment in the sense of "Well done!"



#29 silvermash

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Posted 17 July 2014 - 12:56 AM

 

Loosely translated, Madame Lefevre's comments about Millepied are as follows:

 

"I was hurt when he told the press he wanted to bring modernity to the Opera.  It has not pleased me.  The little girl in me winced: She [the little girl] wanted to be told that she had worked".  That last bit about "she had worked" is a bad translation.  I think what Lefevre was expressing was that she had been successful with her programming or management.  Maybe one of our French correspondents can provide a better translation.

 

I would translate it ("bien travaillé") as "done a good job." It's often used a compliment in the sense of "Well done!"

 

Yes, and I think it was refering to the efforts she made to bring modernity to the ballet wink1.gif



#30 Mathilde K

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Posted 17 July 2014 - 01:50 AM

 

 

Loosely translated, Madame Lefevre's comments about Millepied are as follows:

 

"I was hurt when he told the press he wanted to bring modernity to the Opera.  It has not pleased me.  The little girl in me winced: She [the little girl] wanted to be told that she had worked".  That last bit about "she had worked" is a bad translation.  I think what Lefevre was expressing was that she had been successful with her programming or management.  Maybe one of our French correspondents can provide a better translation.

 

I would translate it ("bien travaillé") as "done a good job." It's often used a compliment in the sense of "Well done!"

 

Yes, and I think it was refering to the efforts she made to bring modernity to the ballet wink1.gif

 

 

All of this is quite hilarious. She is of course right: she made every effort to "bring modernity to the Opéra", simultaneously destroying the past greatness of this institution and making it what it is today. When her replacement by Millepied was announced a year ago my first thought was that she is being replaced not because of the damage she inflicted but because she hasn't damaged enough.




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