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Europa danse and the rain


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#1 Estelle

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Posted 15 August 2001 - 06:13 PM

Paris is somewhat empty from a cultural point of view in August: most theaters are closed, most festivals have ended... However, in the last few years there has been a small festival "Paris quartier d'été" from mid-July to mid-August, featuring some dance, circus, tales and music. The only ballet part of the festival was a series of performances by a group of young dancers who had been trained in Grasse (a city of the region of Nice and Cannes) earlier in the summer, with classes by Vladimir Vassiliev, Ekaterina Maximova and Monique Loudieres.

I planned to attend the last one of the three performances this evening. It was supposed to include Clustine's "Suite de danses" (the only purely classical work of the evening), and also works by Ek, Van Manen, Montalvo, Duato, Kylian and Mac Kneely. It was an outdoors performance at the Palais-Royal, a few meters away from the Ministery of Culture and from the Comedie-Francaise. Unfortunately, just as we heard the first (recorded) notes of Chopin's score, the first drops of rain started to fall... Most people left their seats then and rushed to some places protected from the rain. It calmed down after a few minutes, but the stage was wet enough to need quite a lot of cleaning. Around 10:30 PM (the show was supposed to start at 10 PM, and most people had been queuing since 8:30 PM), the stade was almost dry, and the unfortunate dancers were almost ready to get on stage- and wham, it started raining again, and soon became diluvian, with strong winds, people running everywhere, flying umbrellas, loud thunder, and even a light exploding from electricity surcharge. So the whole show was cancelled, and I came home soaked with rain and disappointed. :( Zeus definitely was not in good terms with Terpsichore this evening!

I'd be interested in hearing comments about "Suite de danses", as it is a rarely performed work as far as I know (it used to be a successful work of the POB repertory during the Lifar period, but as far as I know it hasn't been performed for 20 years at least). Some comments about Van Manen's "Concertante" and about Joey Mac Kneely (I've never heard about that choreographer, but I suspect that his works are more modern than ballet) would be interesting too.

#2 Andrei

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Posted 15 August 2001 - 06:38 PM

Estelle, you said classes were taught by Vassiliev and Maximova, but the repertoire is so much modern. It's look really strange to me ... :confused:

#3 Estelle

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Posted 17 August 2001 - 05:32 AM

Andrei, I've re-read the program notes more carfeully, and it mentions "master classes" by Vassiliev, Maximova and Loudieres, but the works were not staged by them. For example, "Suite de danses" was staged by Lucien Duthoit (former POB dancer, and teacher at the POB school), Ek's work by staged by Lena Wennergren, etc. The notes also say that the program had been previously performed in Grass, and in a few Italian cities (Rimini, Fiesole...)


That "Europa danse" program has been existing for three years, and each time there was a strong contemporary focus (last year, the only real classical ballet was Balanchine's "Allegro Brillante"). It is organized by an association created by Jean-Albert Cartier. I don't know exactly who Cartier is, but it's a name I've seen very often associated with ballet. If I remember correctly, he used to be the "administrateur de la danse" at the Paris Opera at the beginning of Dupont's directorship- his successor was Brigitte Lefevre, and when she became director that position was suppressed... Also Cartier had some responsibilities in Nancy and in Nice.

#4 Alymer

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Posted 18 August 2001 - 02:39 PM

Estelle, You've solved a mystery for me because I was wondering what had become of Jean-Albert Cartier. Very briefly, and without dates if you will forgive me, his background was in visual arts but he has been involved with dance for something like 30 years. He first ran Ballet Theatre Contemporain in Amiens - a classical company with a policy of dancing only works tht had been created in the 20th century. The company moved to Angers, and then to Nancy. He was, as you say at the Paris Opera, but only for a short time. He was also in charge of the Chatelet theatre in Paris for a period. He also ran a company in Nice - one of the ballets he staged there was Ashton's Deux Pigeons. He's a charming man with a very wide culture, who did some excellent work but he has suffered from political problems - ie a change of local adminstration decides that a contemporary dance group rather than a classical company - however modern - is what they are prepared to fund. He also had a period when he stopped work because of a personal tragedy. I'm glad to know he is still about. If you are intersted enought to want more details, then please email me.

#5 Estelle

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Posted 18 August 2001 - 05:43 PM

Alymer, many thanks for the information about Cartier. I've seen his name very often, and was thinking "he must be an interesting person". From what you wrote, he is! Now that you wrote it, I remember he was in Nice. The Ballet de Nice has undergone so many changes in the last decade that it couldn't find any proper style... I remember they staged some Ashton a few years ago (but weren't some programs cancelled because of copyrights of something like that?), also I think that it was in that period that they staged some rarely seen Massine works, like his version of "The rite of spring" re-using the same sets and costumes as the Nijinsky one, "The blue Danube"... If I remember correctly, it was also him who decided to add works like Massine's "The three-cornered hat" and Nijinska's "Les biches" and "Le train bleu" to the POB repertory in the early 90s (I'm wondering if those ones will get performed again by the POB, by the way). He seems to be a man with a great interest for the 20th century repertory.

#6 Alymer

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Posted 20 August 2001 - 12:14 PM

Estelle, This is all very timely since on Saturday evening I lerned from a Swedish contact something about Europa Ballet. Seemingly it is supposed to be the dance equivalent to the European Youth Orchestra; that is to say a group of young dancers from a number of European countries spend a period working together, taking class and learning ballets which they later perform. Sounds like a great idea and I'm even more sorry the performance was rained off so yu couldn't report on the results.
You are right about the Ashton performances in Nice being cancelled but it was due to strike action. I don't know how much influence Cartier had on the Opera repertory - he was there only for a short period and his apointment and career there were very much mixed up with Pierre Berge's political manouvrings there. For instance, Cartier was appointed while Nureyev was Artistic Director, but without any consultation. This isn't the place to go into all those dirty dealings, but you are absolutely correct in your estimation of him. If you can find anything about Ballet Theatre Contemporain you might find it interesting. For instance, decors and lighting were always beautiful - often from well-known artists -and usually worked in favour of the choreography, which is not always the case.

#7 Ed Waffle

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Posted 20 August 2001 - 04:42 PM

This has been an intriguing thread and one that indicates just how much fun BalleAlert can be.

1) Estelle wrote: "Around 10:30 PM (the show was supposed to start at 10 PM, and most people had been queuing since 8:30 PM)"--this sounds delightful, living as I do in the American midwest where it seems that producers want to get shows over by 10:30 PM.

2) alymer wrote: "He's a charming man with a very wide culture, who did some excellent work but he has suffered from political problems - ie a change of local adminstration decides that a contemporary dance group rather than a classical company -however modern - is what they are prepared to fund." Which says volumes about how the performing arts are funded in France as compared to the United States and how state or municipal funding is not axiomatically better than private funding.

alymer also wrote: "This isn't the place to go into all those dirty dealings, but you are absolutely correct in your estimation of him." Which is the right approach, but does sound so much more interesting than the recent uproar at the ABT. I am happy that someone knows it and who is willing to discuss it privately.

And this is just one quick thread from our Europe-based friends, and ignores a lot of other great stuff in these posts.

So if you are wondering what to do with the pre-refund (or whatever it is) that the IRS is sending or already has sent, think about donating a few dollars of it to BalletAlert.

#8 Estelle

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Posted 20 August 2001 - 05:37 PM

Originally posted by Ed Waffle:

1) Estelle wrote: "Around 10:30 PM (the show was supposed to start at 10 PM, and most people had been queuing since 8:30 PM)"--this sounds delightful, living as I do in the American midwest where it seems that producers want to get shows over by 10:30 PM.


Actually, usually performances start earlier (for example POB performances usually start at 7:30 PM, I think it is in order that people who live in the suburbs of Paris still can take public transportation), but since it was outdoors, probably they wanted to wait until the sky was dark.
And people were queuing early because the seats were sold at the entrance, and there were no seat numbers...


2) alymer wrote: "He's a charming man with a very wide culture, who did some excellent work but he has suffered from political problems - ie a change of local adminstration decides that a contemporary dance group rather than a classical company -however modern - is what they are prepared to fund."  Which says volumes about how the performing arts are funded in France as compared to the United States and how state or municipal funding is not axiomatically better than private funding.


Well, unfortunately, there is no such thing as a perfect funding system! :(
Public funding sometimes has the advantage that it can provide very large sums of money
(the public subsisy for POB is more than 60 million US dollars, it would be impossible to find so much money from private sources), but politicians rarely know much about ballet (and rarely care much about it), so it depends a lot of the financial situation, who advises them, etc. (And I don't know if Alymer was referring to Nice- but politics on the Cote d'Azur are not, shall we say, the cleanest part of French politics).


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