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POB, Oct 21: Balanchine/ Robbins/ Preljocaj/ Hoche

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Here are a few belated comments on a POB performance I attended on

October 21.

It included two works I had already seen, Balanchine's "Apollo"

and Robbins' "Suite of dances", and two contemporary works by

French choreographers, Angelin Preljocaj's "Annonciation" and a new work, "Yamm", by Lionel Hoche.

It began with "Apollo", given there in the version with the prologue (which was an opportunity to see two of the apprentices

of the company, Aurore Cordellier and Dorothee Gilbert, as the

goddesses). At first, Laurent Hilaire was supposed to dance

the main role, but he had to cancel all his performances after

a bad injury in Milano. He was initially replaced with Nicolas

Le Riche, but Le Riche temporarily sufferred from a back injury,

so that the role finally was danced by Jean-Guillaume Bart.

Bart had a busy schedule (dancing also in "Raymonda" at the Opera

Bastille), and looked a tiny bit tired sometimes, but on the

whole I found his performance very good. He has a great line

and purity of style, and with a little bit of experience I think he'll be wonderful in that role. Agnes Letestu was

a graceful Terpsichore (even if perhaps a little bit too tall for Bart), accompanied with Delphine Moussin as Calliope and Karine

Averty as Polymnie (nice to see her back, after her problems of injuries!)

Actually, my initial reaction when seeing "Apollo" in the season program was something like "Again!", because it had been danced

two seasons before, and I would have preferred to see other Balanchine works. But as soon I started watching the ballet, I felt enthralled again, and could only admire the wonderful choreography.

The following work, Preljocaj's "Annonciation", didn't exactly deserve the same compliments. It had entered the POB's repertory in 1996, after Preljocaj's successful creation "Le Parc". I had

found "Le Parc" quite over-rated (nice sets, nice costumes, nice music, and imho hollow choreography), but found that one

far worse. It is a long female duo which is supposed to be inspired by the theme of the annonciation St Mary. The musical score

included some excerpts of Vivaldi's Magnificat, but most of it was a "creation sonore" by Stephane Roy called "Crystal Music", and which I consider as one of the ugliest things I've heard

in a long while, including all sorts of noises (like planes taking off, for example). From the amphitheater seats, it was

quite impossible to see the facial expression of the dancers, and the choreography itself looked especially repetitive to me -even gifted dancers like Marie-Agnes Gillot and Clairemarie Osta couldn't save it. It included many long unison parts, and I couldn't help comparing it to the wonderfully clever duo of Calliope and Polymie in "Apollo"...

Fortunately, the third work was far more enjoyable: I've rarely seen anything as exhilarating as Manuel Legris in Robbins' "Suite of dances". Legris is as his best his such roles, displaying his great virtuosity, a wonderful sense of musicality, and a

touch of humor. Everything looked so light and so easy... Those 15 minutes were too short.

The last work of the program, "Yamm", was a new work commissioned to Lionel Hoche, on a new score by Philippe Fenelon. Actually, it's hard for me to remember anything precise about that work

(and it already was hard a few minutes after seeing it).

The score was not unpleasant, but to me not very well suited

to dance- it was very noisy, with a lot of percussions but no

easily danceable rhythm (and no easy melody), and to me sounded

a little bit like the soundtrack of a movie dealing with apocalypse.

The choreography (for 16 dancers) included mostly ensemble parts, which

often looked like fights, and didn't give many interesting things

to do to the main three soloists, Celine Talon, Yann Bridard

and Guillaume Charlot. Anne-Marie Pecheur's designs were quite

nice (four big semi-transparent blueish shapes at the back of the stage),

but her costumes increased the general anonymousness of the dancers.

I've been told later that several other choreographers

had been offered to choreograph on that music and had refused,

and that Hoche himself had created his work on a two-piano

reduction of the score, and had heard the final version (quite

different) only two weeks before the premiere- it surely

didn't help...

On the whole, that program was quite close to my expectations:

two nice works by Balanchine and Robbins, and two disappointing

contemporary works.

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