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The Millepied Era at the Paris Opera Ballet


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#121 ricaineballet

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Posted Yesterday, 03:11 AM

 

This is something that the dancers at the POB have already complained about.  The demands of the repertory they had to dance under Madame Lefevre -- Giselle, Lifar, the Nureyev versions of the classics, the Lacotte reconstructions, a flood tide of contemporary dance -- were already strenuous enough.  Now, Milliepied wants to superimpose this New York City Ballet repertory on top of all this.  Something (or multiple somethings) will have to go.  So, say goodbye to Lifar and the Nureyev productions and the Lacotte reconstructions.  (I don't think even Millepied would be foolhardy enough to ditch Giselle.)

 

Which is really unfortunate. Plenty of companies do Balanchine well already (the POB is not one of them), but who can do with Suite en Blanc with the same panache as the French? I'm sorry to see Lifar (and Béjart, Petit, Lacotte, etc.) go, to be replaced by the who's who's of 21st century ballet at all of the other major companies.



#122 silvermash

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Posted Yesterday, 05:16 AM

Well Millepied has some ideas but will he have the means to impose them to dancers? I have already the feeling through a couple of interviews he has done recently that he is a bit less optimistic on the changes he could do...

As for Balanchine and Robbins, I believe this is not the kind of ballets the grown up dancers, and especially the Etoiles, like to do.  It will be interested to see if they play the game or not happy.png



#123 miliosr

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Posted Yesterday, 09:15 AM

As for Balanchine and Robbins, I believe this is not the kind of ballets the grown up dancers, and especially the Etoiles, like to do.  It will be interested to see if they play the game or not

The dancers who are in their last half dozen or so years of activity at the POB may just ride it out to retirement.  But for the cohort that's in, say, the 27-35 age range, they may have to make some hard decisions.  Given the kind of repertory Millepied likes and given the subset of younger dancers he's favoring, they may ask themselves, "What is there for me?"  Do I stick around and get paid to not dance very much??  Or, do I follow Mathilde Froustey out the door and find other opportunities??



#124 pherank

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Posted Yesterday, 12:54 PM

Well Millepied has some ideas but will he have the means to impose them to dancers? I have already the feeling through a couple of interviews he has done recently that he is a bit less optimistic on the changes he could do...

As for Balanchine and Robbins, I believe this is not the kind of ballets the grown up dancers, and especially the Etoiles, like to do.  It will be interested to see if they play the game or not happy.png

 

Like you, I don't think Millepied is as optimistic about change as some people think. But he will push for his preferences. And the older dancers will, of course, have their own preferences for programming. But one would expect a professional to perform, and not 'sit on the bench'.

 

The dancers who are in their last half dozen or so years of activity at the POB may just ride it out to retirement.  But for the cohort that's in, say, the 27-35 age range, they may have to make some hard decisions.  Given the kind of repertory Millepied likes and given the subset of younger dancers he's favoring, they may ask themselves, "What is there for me?"  Do I stick around and get paid to not dance very much??  Or, do I follow Mathilde Froustey out the door and find other opportunities??

 

The interesting twist is that you don't see this kind of refusal to dance new choreography at a U.S. company - the dancers take all opportunities. And they are expected to. The only place where this kind of 'choosiness' might occur would be ABT, but ABT spends very little time on producing cutting-edge ballets, so I can't say it's an issue there. Froustey has so far embraced her opportunities, and so she has no attitude problem with programming at SFB. If there are etoiles that feel they need to explore "other opportunites" outside of POB, it sounds like they would not be looking for new works to dance, so that is a different situation. And where would they go? ABT? There isn't much eveidence that ABT favors the POB dancers. Other European companies might take a single dancer, if they have the budget.



#125 miliosr

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Posted Yesterday, 02:19 PM

I don't see it as refusal or choosiness so much as it would be being undercast.  You could get cast up to a guaranteed minimum # of performances and then find that there's not much for you to do.  What do you do in that circumstance?  Do you make your peace with it and reconcile yourself to having stretches in your schedule where you don't dance?  Or do you look elsewhere (i.e. to Bordeaux or Vienna)?

 

There are certain people, like the etoile Herve Moreau and the sujet Marc Moreau, who Millepied has cast in his works and who are versatile enough to do contemporary, which there will be a lot of in 2015-16.  So, they should be sitting pretty for 2015-16.  But if you specialize, for instance, in princely roles, you may find yourself having a hard time of it in 2015-16 given the relative paucity of those kind of roles in Millepied's programming.  Best get your resume ready in case you need to contact Charles Jude or Manuel Legris!

 

As for ABT, the one person I could see fitting into that repertory is Francois Alu, or at least the Don Quixote/Romeo&Juliet part of it.  I think he could fill the Angel Corella spot that Daniil Simkin has failed to fill since Corella "retired".



#126 pherank

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Posted Yesterday, 03:15 PM

"Best get your resume ready in case you need to contact Charles Jude or Manuel Legris!"

 

I had that same thought.  ;)

 

The sheer size of POB does seem to work against the dancers many times (and Millepied seemed to hint at this fact in his interviews). A smaller company (assuming the same schedule) dances more, and is presumably more exhausted.

Of course, once the injuries pile up, suddenly there don't seem to be many etoiles available to dance roles of any type - POB has this issue even with the present company.

 

 

One thing not mentioned: it is possible that necessity will find Millepied altering his choreographic style to allow for the needs of his dancers (rather than simply imposing his way on them). That's something Balanchine would have done, as necessary. Not that Mr. M is Mr. B, but it would do Millepied some artistic good to try new things himself.



#127 silvermash

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Posted Yesterday, 11:12 PM

Well the situation is different if you're an Etoile or not regarding the ballets you dance.. Only the Etoiles can choose to dance or not, so they will be faced to choices if it what is proposed doesn't suit them. If you're in the other ranks, you have to dance what you are told  to  (Of course you may behave as you're not offered a lot wink1.gif and that's why I guess some Premiers danseurs are undercast) 



#128 miliosr

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Posted Today, 11:09 AM

it is possible that necessity will find Millepied altering his choreographic style to allow for the need of his dancers (rather than simply imposing his way on them).

Ideally, he would choreograph to the French style rather than trying to drag the dancers toward him.  In his many press interviews, he talks a lot about music and he talks a lot about scenic design and he invokes (vaingloriously) the name of Diaghilev.  But I never hear much from him how he's going to marry the French style and training to his own works or to the repertory he's programmed for 2015-16.  Maybe there will be a happy marriage.  The greater likelihood is that either the French style will mutate so it no longer looks like the French style, or Millepied quits out of frustration.



#129 canbelto

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Posted Today, 02:49 PM

This might not be a popular opinion but I'm not sure the POB system is ideal and that changes aren't needed. For instance Aurelie Dupont and some other dancers have spoken rather bitterly about how brutal and inhumane they felt the schooling system was under Claude Bessy. Not sure if this has changed, but their complaints (if true) need to be addressed and not just swept under the rug of "well, that's the French way." 

 

Second of all, the "classics" in the POB are almost always the Nureyev versions. Some of his versions are good (La Bayadere) but other versions of his classics IMO could be replaced. For instance his Nutcracker is a rather creepy Freudian tale with (as always) lots of extra dancing for the male. His Swan Lake is also overly fussy, Freudian, and with so much busy dancing. His R&J is IMO inferior to the MacMillan, Cranko, and Lavrovsky versions.

 

I'm not sure Millepied is the right person to enact changes, but I'm also not convinced that Lefevre's tenure represented French ballet tradition in the most pure way either. 



#130 miliosr

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Posted Today, 03:18 PM

Well, Claude Bessy had some choice words about Aurelie Dupont and her comments about the school:

 

"She is talking about herself.  Because though she has brilliant gifts, she was always lazy and from the very first days she didn't like the school that her mother had sent her to.  During her whole six years Aurelie never lost a resentful expression on her face, not a shadow of a smile ever.  All the teachers knew this grimace of hers."

 

Regardless of where the truth lies (and it does become a bit like the chicken and the egg with these two), Claude Bessy has been gone from the school for a decade.  My impression of Elisabeth Platel's tenure is that she has defended the style itself with the classwork but eased up on the atmosphere a bit so it's less like a cross between a Catholic monastery and a reformatory.

 

The sense I have gotten from reading interviews with some of the top dancers is that the problem is not with the school per se but with the repertory the school's graduates have had to dance first under Nureyev and then under Madame Lefevre.  Karl Paquette gave an interview to Ballet Review during the company's 2012 US tour and he very pointedly said that the training didn't prepare them for a lot of the technical challenges in the Nureyev productions.  And there was much criticism of Madame Lefevre during her tenure regarding some of her programming choices and how they were asking classically trained dancers to be something they weren't.  So, is the training at fault?  Or, have the repertory choices gone too far afield?  (And now you have Millepied bringing in this New York City Ballet aesthetic to complicate matters further.)

 

I'm not opposed to retiring certain Nureyev productions if they have outlived their usefulness.  I just don't know that Millepied is necessarily the person to conduct such a review, or that he should be the person choreographing new versions.




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