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POB Young Dancers program, June 8

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I've posted the following review in alt.arts.ballet:

Since 1998, the Paris Opera Ballet has organized regularly some "Young

dancers" programs, which feature dancers from the corps de ballet in short

works. The content and style of such programs have varied quite a lot

(sometimes there was a general theme, for example "Homage to Petipa" in

1994); in general, the choreographies and the casts are announced

quite late.

This time, the program included 8 works, featuring a total of 26

dancers, all of them coryphees or quadrilles (three of them being

"surnumeraires", i.e. quadrilles with a temporary contract- indeed

it is quite rare to see them on stage with interesting roles).

It began with Anton Dolin's version of Perrot's "Pas de quatre" (coached

by Ghislaine Thesmar) danced by Christine Peltzer, Peggy Dursort, Myriam

Ould-Braham and Miho Fujii. It was interesting to see such a rarely staged

romantic work, but it would probably have had more impact with more

experienced dancers. I especially liked Myriam Ould-Braham, a small blonde

19 years old quadrille who entered the company recently, and danced the

"Cerrito" role with lyricism, grace and lightness. Miho Fujii, a

surnumeraire, was quite charming in the Lucile Grahn role. The ensemble

parts were good, except some rather shaky balances by Christine Peltzer

and Miho Fujii.

The second work was a "Pas de trois" from Lacotte's version of "La

Sylphide". That pas de trois wasn't included in the first version of "La

Sylphide", it was added later and came from Taglioni's "L'Ombre", on some

music by Maurer. In general, I don't appreciate much such pas de deux or

pas de trois when they're taken out of their context: it's really hard to

appreciate such works without the rest of the story, with no sets... It

works well with virtuosity pas de deux like that of "Don Quichotte", but

with romantic works much of the atmosphere is lost in general- or it

requires excellent dancers with a strong stage presence. In that pas de

trois, the dancer I appreciated most was Dorothee Gilbert (17), a

quadrille who joined the company last fall: she was excellent in the role

of Effie, very moving and technically very strong. I was far less

impressed with Juliette Gernez (18), a newly promoted coryphee, whose

Sylphide was not especially expressive and quite icy. Julien Meyzindi (22)

was elegant and expressive, and showed great partnering skills.

The following work was the White Swan pas de deux from "Swan Lake"

(Nureyev's production), danced by Aurore Cordellier (17, another

newly promoted coryphee) and Stephane Bullion (21, coryphee).

I'm afraid I was not very impressed with what I saw: the steps were

there, but there was no emotion. (However, I've been told that they

improved quite a lot on the following performances).

The next work was by Nureyev too: it was the balcony scene from "Romeo and

Juliet", danced by Myriam Kamionka (27, coryphee) and Nicolas Paul (22,

coryphee). I've never appreciated much that pas de deux, and those

contrived male variations... Nicolas Paul and Myriam Kamionka both

were quite good, but there was little interaction between them.

The second part of the evening started with a pas de six by the POB

principal Jean-Guillaume Bart, "Le diable a quatre", on a musical

score by Adolphe Adam. That work had been created in 1997 for

the Jeune Ballet de France. It is an abstract pas de six, which looks

like a nice pastiche of romantic style, with many virtuoso variations.

Not a masterpiece in my opinion, but a very pleasant work, joyful and

musical. All the dancers who performed it (Aurelia Bellet, Ninon Raux,

Nathalie Vandard, Severine Westermann, Pascal Aubin and Bruno Bouche)

were excellent, with a heart-warming enthusiasm.

The following work, Petipa's "Carnaval de Venise", was a new work in the

repertory of the company. It was danced by Lise-Marie Jourdain (23,

quadrille) and Jean-Sebastien Colau (23, quadrille), which had won some

medals in Varna and Paris with that pas de deux. Jourdain, a thin blonde,

looked lovely in her white and silver tutu, and their pas de deux was

warmly applaused by the audience (actually a bit too much for my taste- I

find it annoying when people applause in the middle of the variations!)

Such a pas de deux seems more suited to such a gala than the White Swan

one, for example- here there's only virtuosity and joy, and the lack of

context isn't a problem. I wish those dancers had more opportunities to

dance interesting roles; as quadrilles they dance mostly corps de ballet

roles. Colau had been excellent as Rothbart in the previous "Young

dancers" program, and while his long line might seem more suited to

prince roles, I'm more likely to see him in demi-caractere roles.

It was followed by a pas de trois from "Reversibilite" by Michel

Kelemenis. "Reversibilite" was created for the POB in 1999, and

seems unlikely (as many contemporary dance works created in the

last few years for the company) to be danced again in its entirety.

The pas de trois was the second part of the work, set to Ravel's

"Pavane pour une infante defunte" (the first part was on the

"Concerto for the left hand"). I had appreciated that work when

it was premiered, especially in contrast with the hollow new

work by Jose Montalvo which was just before, and it also benefitted

from the great talent of Kader Belarbi, Wilfried Romoli and Elisabeth

Maurin in the main roles. Now, I found that pas de trois a bit

too agressive and acrobatic; nonetheless there were interesting

moments. It was performed with much intensity by Caroline Bance

(23, coryphee), Jean-Philippe Dury (22, quadrille) and Pierre

Retif (23, quadrille). I was especially impressed by the great

stage presence of Retif, and hope to be able to see him again

on stage. And Yves Cassagne's costumes deserve a special mention

(nice short green dress for the girls, and black sleeveless suits

for the men which really made them look very elegant).

The program ended with Jacques Garnier's "Aunis". That work, which seems

to be the only work of Garnier (who died in 1989, aged 47) regularly

performed, had been part of some previous "Young dancers" programs in 1996

and in 1993. I've seen that work quite a lot of times (on video -it has

been filmed with Kader Belarbi, Wilfried Romoli and Jean-Claude Ciappara-,

in Marseille, in Paris...) and still find it as moving, especially thanks

to the beautiful score for two accordions by Maurice Pacher (played on

staged by himself and Gerard Baraton). Aunis is a region of western France

(around La Rochelle), where Jacques Garnier was born, and some of the

music is inspired from traditional music from that region. It was first

created by Garnier himself as a solo in 1979, and then in 1980 as a trio

(also inspired by Garnier's childhood with his two brothers). The steps

are relatively simple, but the structure of the work is quite subtile,

with many games of symmetry and dissymmetry between the three dancers, and

I find it fascinating. It was danced beautifully by Simon Valastro (20,

quadrille), Martin Chaix (20, surnumeraire) and Alexandre Carniato (20, surnumeraire). My only regret is that the audience ruined the end:

it is supposed to be somewhat circular (the music getting slower,

less and less loud, and the dancers returning to their initial position

on the ground) but people started applauding very loudly before the

end of the music and one couldn't really feel the nostalgic atmosphere

of the end.

It was an interesting evening, in spite of a few unfortunate choices.

I regret that some other very young members of the company (Emilie

Cozette, Julie Martel, Adrien Bodet...) were not cast, and hope

that the young dancers of the program will have more opportunities to

shine in the future.

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