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The Millepied Era at the Paris Opera Ballet


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#31 miliosr

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Posted 17 July 2014 - 02:51 PM

Can anyone point me in the direction of a list of POB directors since World War II?  I'm looking for a list with names and lengths of tenure.  I did a Google search but couldn't find one.



#32 cinnamonswirl

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Posted 17 July 2014 - 05:41 PM

The French version of Wikipedia appears to list all of the directors ever: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballet_de_l%27Opéra_national_de_Paris



#33 Amy Reusch

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Posted 17 July 2014 - 07:16 PM

It leaves a gap in the Lifar years... i thought this was the short time that Balanchine was there... It is confusing... In what capacity was Balanchine at the POB? Was it no more than any other choreographer invited to mount a single piece on the POB? Had thought it was a more significant position...

I see here http://balanchine.co...rge-balanchine/. He was ballet master there for 6 months... But what does that mean? Was that not his official job title at NYCB even though we think of him as artistic director? It seems like we had this discussion once before on ballet alert...

#34 miliosr

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Posted 18 July 2014 - 02:14 PM

Thank you cinnamonswirl!

 

Here are the directors since 1947 (w/ estimated lengths of tenure in parentheses after each name):

 

Serge Lifar (11 years)

George Skibine (3 years)

Michel Descombey (7 years)

John Taras (1 year)

Claude Bessy (1 year)

Raymond Franchetti (6 years)

Violette Verdy (3 years)

Rosella Hightower (3 years)

Rudolf Nureyev (6 years)

Patrick Dupond (4 years)

Brigitte Lefevre (19 years)

 

With the exception of Serge Lifar and Madame Lefevre, the historical pattern for directors at the POB has been one of shortish-to-short tenures.  We will see where Benjmain Millepied ends up falling on the continuum.



#35 miliosr

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Posted 02 August 2014 - 07:34 AM

New floors courtesy of the new director!

 

http://instagram.com...in/?modeal=true



#36 sandik

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Posted 02 August 2014 - 10:03 AM

Thank you cinnamonswirl!

 

Here are the directors since 1947 (w/ estimated lengths of tenure in parentheses after each name):

 

Serge Lifar (11 years)

George Skibine (3 years)

Michel Descombey (7 years)

John Taras (1 year)

Claude Bessy (1 year)

Raymond Franchetti (6 years)

Violette Verdy (3 years)

Rosella Hightower (3 years)

Rudolf Nureyev (6 years)

Patrick Dupond (4 years)

Brigitte Lefevre (19 years)

 

With the exception of Serge Lifar and Madame Lefevre, the historical pattern for directors at the POB has been one of shortish-to-short tenures.  We will see where Benjmain Millepied ends up falling on the continuum.

 

Thanks for this list -- it's interesting to see the data set out like this.  I'm thinking, though, that if Nureyev hadn't died, he might have been a long-term director, in some form or another.  I know that he himself was a restless individual, but he seemed to find the POB an organic home base.



#37 miliosr

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Posted 30 August 2014 - 02:29 PM

Presuming Benjamin Millepied bucks the general historical trend at the POB, he will have significant promotional opportunities given the number of etoiles retiring in the next few years.  Here are the retirees in the next 3 years (ordered by rank and age by 12/31/14):

 

Aurelie Dupont (41)

Laetitia Pujol (39)

Marie- Agnes Gillot (39)

 

And the male retirees in the next 2-5 years:

 

Benjamin Pech (40)

Herve Moreau (37)

Jeremie Belingard (39)

Karl Paquette (38)

 

With the vacancy left by Nicolas Le Riche's recent retirement, that presents Millepied with the opportunity for as many as 8 promotions to etoile in the next 5 years.  Interestingly, there will be significant retirements among the premiere danseuses within the next 5 years regardless of promotions to etoile:

 

Nolwenn Daniel (41)

Melanie Hurel (39)

Stephanie Romberg (39)

Muriel Zusperreguy (37)

 

Of the premiere danseurs, only 1 of 7 -- Emmanuel Thibault (at 40) -- is nearing retirement age.  Most of the remaining premiere danseurs are young (with some of them -- Pierre-Arthur Raveau [23] and Francois Alu [21] -- being quite young.)

 

Hard to know which way Millepied will go but he certainly won't lack for opportunities to shape the company!  (Perhaps the biggest question is whether he bucks the exam and starts appointing people from sujet to etoile.  Madame Lefevre certainly caused some heartburn when she named Mathieu Ganio as etoile when he was a 20-year-old sujet.  Decisions, decisions . . .)



#38 silvermash

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Posted 30 August 2014 - 11:50 PM

The number of Etoiles has never been fixed. It's a numerus clausus including Etoiles and Premiers Danseurs. So there is no obligation to promote any Etoile so soon as one is retiring. There was a time, not that long ago, where there was more Premiers danseurs than Etoiles but in the past ten years some Etoiles were promoted at a later age so it changed the distribution among the two grades as the nomination to Etoile doesn't free  a position of Premier danseur.

What is interesting is how many Premiers danseurs positions will be opened at the next concours... As to bypass the position of Premier danseur, well it would raise the question of the concours existence.



#39 miliosr

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Posted 31 August 2014 - 03:27 AM

As to bypass the position of Premier danseur, well it would raise the question of the concours existence.

Exactly.  If you're Millepied, what battles do you take on?  He wants to change the repertory and the experience at the Garnier (i.e. pre-performance "happenings" in the foyer) and diversify the company's ranks (I don't know how he will achieve that since he won't control the school).  That's a lot to attempt without trying to overturn the exams as well.  Whatever the concours may or may not be, it's actually much more rational in its end results than what you see with promotions at, say, ABT.



#40 Alymer

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Posted 01 September 2014 - 01:19 AM

A minor point:  it is the general administrator who appoints Etoiles.  The director de la danse submits a a list of names which he or she considers worthy of the promotion and the final decision is made by the general administrator.  Nor does there have to be a particular number of Etoiles as far as I am aware.  I remember a time when there are far fewer than today.

As for the Concours, it may be worth bearing in mind that it can also be used as a disciplinary process.  The dancer (who may have missed class repeatedly, put on weight, etc.,etc.) performs two variations in front of the jury - no spectators - and the jury is asked whether the dancer should be retained and if so, at the same rank or lower.  That certainly used to be the case.



#41 tomorrow

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Posted 01 September 2014 - 05:32 AM

What purpose does the concours du promotion serve though? It goes against today's ethics, particularly with regards to equal opportunities in the workplace (the POB penalises you if you're sick) but some of the dancers with the most potential are stuck in the corps anyway. I'm not sure there is even much discussion involved either. There's a possible ten points per variation then ten for your performance over the past year, like an appraisal of sorts. As some have pointed out, including Brigitte Lefevre, if somebody on the panel doesn't know you, then you probably won't score above 20.

There used to be a limit on how many etoiles there could be under Hugues Gall, which Gerard Mortier lifted because it caused various problems when there were injuries or if somebody had a reduced schedule. Marie-Agnes Gillot's promotion to etoile was controversial for this reason, somebody else had been lined up by the public. The increase in the number of etoiles is criticised heavily in Paris though, not just because there's a lot of them now but because of the payroll (it's public money, it comes with this sort of criticism!).

It'll be interesting to see how Millepied fares with France's new Minister of Culture too. I didn't like the last one (letting Laurent Hilaire go just one example of her many, many failings) but the new French Government isn't, shall we say, afraid of following orders where cuts are concerned.

#42 cinnamonswirl

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Posted 01 September 2014 - 09:38 AM

What purpose does the concours du promotion serve though? It goes against today's ethics, particularly with regards to equal opportunities in the workplace (the POB penalises you if you're sick) but some of the dancers with the most potential are stuck in the corps anyway. I'm not sure there is even much discussion involved either.

 

Keep in mind that competitive exams like the Concours are part of French life in a way that isn't really true in Anglo-Saxon countries. Most French, whatever their field, will have gone through a similar process at least once - le bac, at the end of high school. If you want to do post-grad study, or join the civil service, you will sit at least 1, if not multiple exams.

 

Most of the dancers I've talked to think the Concours is more fair because it isn't just the AD who is making promotion decisions. It's a whole panel of people who (theoretically) have equal votes. Yes, it is is more unfair in that great work throughout the season could be outweighed by a disastrous performance during the Concours. But if the AD/general administrator of the opera/director of dance/whomever you consider the decision-maker dislikes you, under the Concours you have a better shot of getting promoted than at a company like NYCB or ABT.



#43 tomorrow

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Posted 01 September 2014 - 10:17 AM

The concours promotes fairness in theory, sure, but there are still brilliant dancers trapped in the corps who aren't given opportunities to gain experience specifically because of their contract. 10/30 points will depend on whether each member of the panel knows - or likes - you, it doesn't give injured or ill dancere a chance (which is just sick in 2014), doesn't test partnering and does nothing for dancers who don't excel at short variations. Not every Giselle on the gala circuit makes a great Giselle.

Plus, how do you judge it fairly if it's as much about technique as it is 'artistry'? A lot of the dancers enter with modern and contemporary dance for their optional variation.

#44 sandik

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Posted 01 September 2014 - 10:59 AM

Without sounding like Pollyanna, it seems that the promotion "system" in most companies we talk about here is flawed in some way -- who do we think is doing a really good job with this right now, and why?



#45 silvermash

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Posted 02 September 2014 - 05:17 AM

 

As for the Concours, it may be worth bearing in mind that it can also be used as a disciplinary process.  The dancer (who may have missed class repeatedly, put on weight, etc.,etc.) performs two variations in front of the jury - no spectators - and the jury is asked whether the dancer should be retained and if so, at the same rank or lower.  That certainly used to be the case.

the concours is opened to the public and that's perhaps why it makes such a buzz among ballet fans who manage to attend.  They know what happens during the day of the event but it's only a part of the selection criteria. They don't know what happens in the studio, they only see some of what happens on stage...

 

Despite all the flaws of any concours systems, it’s difficult to say which other ways is fairest, especially in a company with more than 150 dancers…  The question about promotion and non promotion of dancers occurs in all big companies even without this system.

 

What I find interesting in the POB concours is the composition of the jury with equal distribution between 5 elected (by the company dancers) dancers (at least Sujet) and administrative staff, 5 as well, the AD, a representative of the Opera director, a ballet master and 2 external dance personalities. Also, a trade union representative is attending the whole event. 




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