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Farewell performance of Fanny Gaida (POB principal)


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#1 Estelle

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Posted 29 June 2001 - 05:14 AM

The POB principal Fanny Gaida had her farewell performance in Nureyev's "Romeo and Juliet" on June 26, partnered by Laurent Hilaire as Romeo, Lionel Delanoe as Mercutio and Kader Belarbi as Tybalt. Nicolas Le Riche was supposed to dance Romeo, but he was injured (he'll probably be absent from the stage until September).

Actually, Gaida's farewell performance was planned on June 23rd, but Sylvie Guillem, who was supposed to dance Juliet on June 26, got injured and Gaida had to replace her. That must have been frustrating for her fans who had booked seats in advance for June 23rd- all the more as June 26th also was the date of the premiere of Neumeier's "Midsummer night's dream" at the Opera Garnier ("Romeo and Juliet" was danced at the Opera Bastille).

Gaida, who was born in 1961, studied at the POB school, and joined the company in 1978. She became a sujet as soon as 1981, and then a premiere danseuse in 1989 and a principal dancer in 1993. I attended the performance when she was promoted (on the same day as Carole Arbo and Nicolas Le Riche), in July 1993 in the Arenes of Nimes (it was her first "Giselle"). I wish I could have attended her official POB performance. She might be invited again as a guest principal, but it seems a bit unlikely. She's danced a large repertory with the company, ranging from "La Sylphide" and "Giselle" to Forsythe (she was in the first cast of "In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated" in 1987) and Kylian. I appreciated her a lot as Roland Petit's "Carmen", in the first pas de deux of Jerome Robbins' "In the Night", in the "Emeralds" part of George Balanchine's "Jewels"... As Carole Arbo, her promotion as a principal was a bit late (both were 32), but they had already danced many big roles of the repertory, and though it is not everyone's opinion, I think her promotion was fully deserved. Some time after her promotion, she was absent for one season because of the birth of her son (she's married with Fabrice Bourgeois, a former POB soloist who now is assistant ballet master) but came back quickly.

Now there are only four female principal dancers in the company: Isabelle Guerin (40- she will retire next fall- she was supposed to have her farewell performance in "Romeo and Juliet", but got injured and so it was postponed), Elisabeth Maurin (38), Agnes Letestu (30) and Aurelie Dupont (28). That is really not much, given the large size of the company and the large number of performances. I can't help feeling somewhat old when remembering all the principals who retired or left the company since I started attending POB performances in 1993: Monique Loudieres, Francoise Legree, Elisabeth Platel, Marie-Claude Pietragalla, Carole Arbo and also Jean-Yves Lormeau, Patrick Dupond, Charles Jude for the men. Brigitte Lefevre repeatedly declared in interviews that she didn't want the company to have too many principals, but I think I'm not the only one wondering if the present figure might not be too small... The present premiere danseuse Delphine Moussin might be a suitable replacement for Gaida, as their repertories are quite similar (and they also look like each other physically, as was obvious in the recent performances of Kylian's "Doux mensonges", in which they created the two female roles), but Moussin already is 32 and her chances to get promoted now seem unfortunately close to zero.

I don't know if Fanny Gaida plans to continue dancing, or will turn to teaching or coaching, but anyway I wish her good luck in her new career.

#2 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 29 June 2001 - 05:56 AM

for a company that size, with that many performances, four female principals seems a bit stingy.

#3 Estelle

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Posted 29 June 2001 - 08:44 AM

Yes indeed. That was already visible during the performances of "Paquita" a few months ago: Aurelie Dupont and Agnes Letestu bot were injured for the first performances, so that the premieres danseuses Clairemarie Osta and Marie-Agnes Gillot danced most of the performances.

There are now 8 premieres danseuses: Moussin, Osta, Gillot, Laetitia Pujol (all 4 of them are very active), Nathalie Rique (who has been absent for more than 2 years for health reasons, and seems unlikely to come back), Ghislaine Fallou (also absent for a long time), Karin Averty (very active, but she will retire within about 2 years) and Eleonora Abbagnato (promoted recently, and probably the most likely to become a principal soon). The premieres danseuses dance both principal roles and less important ones.

There are now 6 male principals (Hilaire, Legris, Belarbi, Le Riche, Bart and Martinez). But Hilaire and Le Riche have suffered from injuries this season (and also Le Riche dances a lot with other companies), and Belarbi dances more and more character roles or modern works.

#4 Natalia

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Posted 29 June 2001 - 09:00 AM

Estelle - I am a bit surprised that you wrote that Abbagnato is the premiere danseuse with the most likely opportunity of being promoted to Etoile! Huh??? I would bet my money on Gillot, Pujol, and Osta (in that order) before Abbagnato. Err...unless other forces are at play. ;)

#5 Estelle

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Posted 29 June 2001 - 09:43 AM

Originally posted by Jeannie:
Estelle - I am a bit surprised that you wrote  that Abbagnato is the premiere danseuse with the most likely opportunity of being promoted to Etoile! Huh??? I would bet my  money on Gillot, Pujol, and Osta (in that order) before Abbagnato. Err...unless other forces are at play.   ;)


Jeannie, actually, if *I* had to choose a premiere danseuse, Abbagnato would surely not be first on the list. However, it seems that the direction likes her very very much: she has been given big roles when she was only a coryphee, ranked first among the sujets at the latest inner competition (and everybody knew that it would be like that one year before, just after she was promoted as sujet)... Well, perhaps one should not trust gossip too much, but everything I've heard gave me the impression that Brigitte Lefevre was impatient to promote her. In my opinion, she's a cute dancer, but what I have seen from her so far didn't really convince me (but I admit I haven't seen her so often). Her boyfriend Jeremie Belingard became a premier danseur at the latest competition too, and he too seems to be appreciated a lot by the direction.

About the other premieres danseuses: there have been many discussions among the French posters of ballet.co.uk about the chances of promotion of Osta. She has danced quite a lot of big roles with talent, and saved the premiere of "Paquita" as a last-minute replacement of Dupont, but she's about 30 now, and seems less and less likely to be promoted. A pity, in my opinion (she was lovely in "In the Night" a few months ago, and also in the pas de trois of "Emeralds"). Gillot is about 26 now, has danced quite a lot of roles, and I think you wouldn't lose your bet (the only problem with her might be her height: she's very tall, like Letestu, but also large-shouldered, so it's hard to find a partner tall and strong enough for her). Pujol is about 25, but was promoted more recently (and her promotion was quite unexpected); so far she's had mostly the reputation of being a strong technician, but recently she had good reviews in more "artistic" roles.

A great cause of regret among the POB fans is Ghislaine Fallou: she was a very bright dancer, who entered the company when she was only 15 and was considered as very promising, but about 2 or 3 years ago she started suffering from depression and eating disorders, and since then she has disappeared from the stage. A real pity :)

#6 Natalia

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Posted 29 June 2001 - 11:02 AM

Thanks, Estelle. I didn't even want to mention Fallou because it is sad. I never saw her "live" (except among the corps in the mid-90s) but I'll always treasure my tapes of Varna 1990, where she won silver, and of a Moscow Gala ca 1993. Lovely dancer. Reminded me a bit of Gelsey Kirkland in body type and style. Also, both Fallou and Kirkland aborted their careers way too early...Fallou even earlier.

#7 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 29 June 2001 - 11:25 AM

A gentle reminder and request not to go further with offstage issues, if we can avoid it. For consistency's sake.

Thanks!

#8 Terry

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Posted 29 June 2001 - 11:42 AM

I agree. I've only seen Abbagnato once, but if she does get promoted, I will definitely come to the conclusion that many "other" forces had to play. I've liked Pujol. She's in some ways a conventional dancer, but she has strong technique, and I am sure that in a few years, her dramatic and artistic abilities will develop. I've never seen Osta, but from what I've been reading and hearing, she seems like a dependable dancer (unlike, Nicholas, who gets injured way too often, which is really too bad!!). Sometimes, the most "dependable" dancers do well in the end (best eg of that would be Eleonore D'Antuono I think!!). And then Gillot. My goodness POB has some of the TALLEST dancers in the world! I think I even read in an interview of Claude Bessy once that the female dancers are getting taller than male dancers, and it's becoming a problem!! But she has some strong qualities in her, and I think those strong, unique qualities of her can eventually develop into an "etoile" quality. Can't she partner Bart and Martinez and LeRiche? Or are they too short for her?

I haven't seen POB in almost a year, but I am very very excited to see some of the new upcoming young dancers. Just to name a few: Marie Ould Braham, Emilie Cozette (although I think she isn't considered so "new" but I think she has very good potential), Aurore Cordellier, Dorothee Gilbert, and more! By the way Estelle, any hopes of Melanie Hurel or Delphine Baey becoming a premiere danseur or possible an etoile? I've always liked Hurel's classical quality and Baey persona on stage; and I definitely think they're in the same league as Osta, Pujol, Gillot, Abbagnato. They definitely deserve to be more than a sujet, IMO. :)

#9 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 29 June 2001 - 02:35 PM

hi terry! how can we communicate privately? am i not supposed to post my address? we're very close to each other here in the city, evidently. let me know!
patricia

#10 Alexandra

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Posted 29 June 2001 - 02:52 PM

As was posted when I first hid the emails, this is done largely for the protection of our Under 18s; unless we went through and did them by hand, which would take more days than I can donate, it's an all or nothing proposition.

Anyone over 18 who wishes to post an email address and ask someone to email them is welcome to do so unless they are A) selling them something or B) are attempting to make contact with a child.

#11 Terry

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Posted 29 June 2001 - 06:19 PM

Hi Patricia,

Sure I would love to communicate privately! I'm just not sure how to give you my email address. Alexandra, would it be all right if I just posted it here, in this forum, or is there another place I can do this? Thanks.

#12 Alexandra

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Posted 29 June 2001 - 08:41 PM

YES, POST THE EMAIL ADDRESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

#13 Terry

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Posted 29 June 2001 - 08:44 PM

Patricia, here is my email:

ts362@columbia.edu


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