Jump to content


This site uses cookies. By using this site, you agree to accept cookies, unless you've opted out. (US government web page with instructions to opt out: http://www.usa.gov/optout-instructions.shtml)

Ecole de Danse de l'Opera National de Paris


  • Please log in to reply
17 replies to this topic

#1 BW

BW

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,048 posts

Posted 23 May 2002 - 08:58 PM

Tonight I had the distinct pleasure of attending a performance by the students of the Paris Opera Ballet School in NYC. This was surely one of the highlights of my ballet going experience. My daughter exlaimed that she'd rather see them than NYCB or ABT any day. They were amazing, astonishing, technically beautiful and not without personality to match! The program combined several different styles of ballet and even one modern piece.

Someone with more expertise, please help me out here! Tell everyone why these dancers were so phenomenal! Their eppaulement, their legs, their perfectly arched feet, their stage presence, their ability to mime and their joy in dancing - all were truly astonishing.

I am guessing that the age range was about 14 or 15 to 18?

I am not sure if tomorrow night is sold out or not - if not - get thee to thy phone and get a hold of some tickets!!!! I know it was sold out tonight and, believe me, they deserved to be! :)!

#2 Leigh Witchel

Leigh Witchel

    Editorial Advisor

  • Editorial Advisor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,466 posts

Posted 23 May 2002 - 10:02 PM

My view of the performance was a little different. I was extremely impressed with the young men, especially Josua Hoffalt, who has very elegant lines and beautiful and efficient port des bras. I was a little surprised by the level of the women. They have lovely facility, but their placement is a bit skewed (a lot of them seem to have the shoulders behind their hips rather than above them) and their port des bras are very unorthodox - arms that seem to curve both in and out and hyperextend.

I'm not sure if it was jet lag, lack of performing experience or any other mitigating factor, but I was also surprised at the level of the performance. Factoring in the fact that these are not yet professional dancers or mature bodies or minds, the performance felt shaky. It could be that the young don't know yet how to cover their mistakes; if they screw up, you know. Even so, many things looked underrehearsed, especially the Taras piece (Dessin pour Six) and the Bart work (Peches de Jeunesse)

It could be that I just had unreasonably high expectations of the school that fuels such a magnificent company. And as I said, I was looking at 16-18 year old kids, all probably with jet lag and having too little time on the stage. But I was surprised.

#3 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,279 posts

Posted 24 May 2002 - 07:49 AM

Interesting! Looks like we need a tie-breaker. Did anyone else go?

#4 britomart

britomart

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 38 posts

Posted 24 May 2002 - 08:39 AM

I have to concur w/Leigh on this one. While I thought the level of facility that the young women possessed was extraordinary, in general I was surprised at the stiffness of their upper bodies (especially w/r/t the neck), among other things. There were a lot of flat-footed runs, and sickled back feet in arabesque. The men, however, were breathtaking; I don't think I've ever seen such a bumper crop of young male dancers. They looked better than most male corps de ballets, even among the upper echelon of ballet companies. In them, one could see the rigors and precision for which the POB school training is famous.

I will say in all fairness, that in general the program choices did not complement the young dancers. The John Taras piece was little more than a classroom-type demonstration of some of the most technically demanding yet visually unrewarding dancing I have ever seen. Surprisingly, the piece that came off the best was the excerpt from Western Symphony, which was danced both technically well and charmingly. The exception among the women did the lead in this piece--her name was Laura something---and she was quite gorgeous to look at, both physically and in terms of presence. She looked like a hybrid of a young Isabelle Guerin and Wendy Whelan (more Guerin than Whelan, about a 70/30 ratio).

#5 glebb

glebb

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 807 posts

Posted 24 May 2002 - 09:01 AM

If she is reminiscent of Isabelle Guerin, I can't wait to see this Laura (something.) :)

Seriously, I love reading about, and wish I could see these talented young dancers! Maybe the areas in which they are lacking will get stronger when they become apprentices with major companies?

How do they compare to the young dancers in the SAB workshop?

#6 Leigh Witchel

Leigh Witchel

    Editorial Advisor

  • Editorial Advisor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,466 posts

Posted 24 May 2002 - 10:39 AM

I believe her full name was Laura Hecquet.

I don't know if I could compare the two schools, Glebb - actually I take that back. What really surprised me was that the women from both schools did in fact look alike in some ways, and I would rather they didn't (render unto Caesar!). Balanchine is not their principal repertory, why should they have Balanchinean port-des-bras? If anything, steal your lower body from New York, not from the waist up! :D

As for the men - two totally different styles, but the best of the best at this performance (Hoffalt, Medhi Angot & Vincent Chaillet) are very polished. Sometimes they go a little blank (not Angot, but he is shorter and his body is slightly more under control because of it) but their basic command of how to use their arms and walk on stage (men who know how to walk!) is very impressive. The SAB workshop is next week and from the fact that they programmed a ballet specifically to showcase their male students (Les Gentillhommes) I'm thinking they are proud of their crop this year as well.

#7 BW

BW

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,048 posts

Posted 24 May 2002 - 10:57 AM

Laura Hecquet danced the lead in Western Symphony and she was also one of the soloists in Peches de Jeunesse. Agreed, she was obviously their star, and her partner Josua Hoffalt was the young man who stood out among the very good "bumper crop" of male dancers, nevertheless my feelings about last night's performance remain the same - guess that's what makes an audience, eh?

Interestingly, I really loved the first piece that you both obviously found wanting. To me it was it was visually dramatic - I loved the tutus and thought it looked good. I also thought the young woman in the excerpt from Bejart's Sept danses grecques was very good and didn't detect an iota of nervousness there. Personally, I felt that the young man who was her partner was at a disadvantage due to his lack of height.

Interestingly, although I agree that Laura Hecquet was excellent in Western Symphony, I just didn't "like" that piece. I probably wouldn't like it even seeing NYCB's top dancers perform it...just not my taste.

So no one commented on Coppelia, Act II - or upon Charlotte Ranson, who played Swanilda, and did a superb job...I didn't notice any technical flaws (not that I necessarily would unless they were obvious...I will have to ask my own resident critic about that later today) - and I thought they did a great job with the character dancing and the mime. To me, Mademoiselle Ranson is a winner - and I couldn't take my eyes off of her even when she was in the corps of their final piece Peches de Jeunesse.

I know there probably were certain dancers who didn't do as well as one might think they should...and if my resident ballet dancer were sitting here she might agree with some of the points you, Leigh and britomart, have made... Yes, there were a few shakey moments but the good ones far out weighed them, in my eyes. All in all, it was a night to remember for me - as well as for the others in our group who attended.

Where's all my high school French, when I need it?;)

To each his own, as they say. :D

#8 Estelle

Estelle

    Platinum Circle

  • Foreign Correspondent
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,706 posts

Posted 24 May 2002 - 01:51 PM

I saw Laura Hecquet in "Western Symphony" (second part) in April, and really enjoyed her performance (see my review in the POB part of the board), I found she had a lot of charm, class and humor.

I think that it's worth noting that two of the girls who were supposed to dance some of the main roles had to cancel their participation because of injuries: Mathilde Froustey (whom I had seen in "La fille mal gardee") and Laurene Levy (whom I had seen in the first part of "Western Symphony", but I think she also was supposed to dance "Coppelia" in NYC). So it's likely that some of the performers you saw didn't have much time to rehearse their roles...

britomart, one reason why they looked better in "Western Symphony" in your opinion might be that it was a work they had already danced in the school's annual program a few weeks earlier. The other works were danced only a few seasons ago, and perhaps they have less time to rehearse it...

It must be a bit stressful for them to perform abroad (probably their first performance outside of Paris for most of them, and on a different kind of stage- it is raked?), and also there probably is more pressure on the girls, as they are more numerous than the boys, and only one fraction of them will be accepted in the company.

#9 Leigh Witchel

Leigh Witchel

    Editorial Advisor

  • Editorial Advisor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,466 posts

Posted 24 May 2002 - 02:16 PM

A piece of strong praise for the performance I forgot earlier. The school has a very talented mime in Maxime Thomas, who performed Dr. Coppelius. Though listed in the corps de ballet of Peches de Jeunesse, I could not figure out which one he was as "himself"! His mime is vivid, clear and projects well beyond his years (From Estelle, I learned that he's in the second division, this should make him around 17, and his Coppelius looked believable.) I hope the company recognizes they have someone who can act as well as dance in Thomas, and that in itself needs to be cherished.

#10 Estelle

Estelle

    Platinum Circle

  • Foreign Correspondent
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,706 posts

Posted 24 May 2002 - 02:28 PM

Maxime Thomas danced Alain in "La Fille", and he was very good. I hope that next season he'll be given an interesting role in the POB school program!

By the way, here's a link to the previous POB school discussion started by Katharine after their program in Paris:

http://www.balletale...=&threadid=4675

To the people who attended: what did you think of Jean-Guillaume Bart's "Peches de jeunesse"? Bart, who is a principal of the company (unrelated to ballet master Patrice Bart), had created it two seasons ago for the school, and I had enjoyed it: I didn't like much the costumes (too much pink and purple), and the music could have been more interesting, but I liked the choreography (and since Bart is one of the only French choreographers I know who is firmly interested in the classical vocabulary, I think he needs encouragements :D ) But I don't know how much rehearsal time this year's cast got, it might have been quite different from the cast on which it had been created two seasons ago (which was a good year for the school, with dancers like Dorothee Gilbert, Aurore Cordellier, Claire Bevalet, Audric Bezard, Adrien Bodet, Sebastien Bertaud who are considered as quite promising).

PS: I found the cast sheet for the performances of "Peches de jeunesse" that I had attended in May 2000, and some of the present dancers already performedit in the corps de ballet (Marie-Laetitia Diederichs, Charlotte Ranson, Emilie Hasboun, Vincent Chaillet), also Josua Hoffalt (who was in 3rd division) had danced a pas de deux in "Sept danses grecques". (Also, David Hallberg who is now in the ABT corps de ballet had danced that year).

#11 aubri

aubri

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 41 posts

Posted 24 May 2002 - 06:29 PM

Well I think SAB can be proud of it's crop, the only problem is that SAB doesn't form the pupils but take most of them already formed by other school.
I thought myself that the women were not the best, I have seen stronger years, but I would not compare their upper body from the one from SAB. The repertoire they presented was a ballet from J Taras which is very Balanchine influenced, and a Balanchine ballet and then the last piece was also very balanchinian so actually it is good that their upper body were not too classical, nobody speaks of the wonderful performance of the Bejart Piece. And i do not think they have anything to envy from the SAB foot work, all the contrary.
Hopefully the coming crop of girls will better, but it's like wine, you have good year and you have bad ones. ;)

#12 BW

BW

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,048 posts

Posted 25 May 2002 - 04:38 AM

Estelle and aubri thank you for your posts and for giving some more background on the students, as well. Alas, I guess I'm not as an experienced wine connoisseur - perhaps that's why I enjoyed their performance so much - give me one really good glass and I'm set. :D

And Leigh, thanks for not going after me for my inadvertent Titantic allusion!;)

I hope the students gave a better performance on their second night and that they enjoyed their visit to New York. Haven't seen today's paper yet, to see if they were reviewed in the press or not. It would be interesting to know if anyone here attended the Friday night performance.

#13 Guest_clarisse_*

Guest_clarisse_*
  • Unregistered / Not Logged In

Posted 26 May 2002 - 12:13 AM

An answer to BW and Aubri.
The dancers in the excerpt from Bejart's 7 danses grecques are Noellie Conjeaud et Mehdi Angot. I know that Noellie is 15, she was the youngest student of the group.

Just an information : don't forget that the sudents were travelling on Tuesday, some of them had to perform on Wednesday morning, and all of them were on stage on Thursday. This schedule could explain some defects you noticed.

#14 BW

BW

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,048 posts

Posted 26 May 2002 - 05:38 AM

Thank you Clarisse! I thoughy Noelle did a beautiful job - and that she really looked as though she were enjoying herself too - which always makes any performance even better.

I give them much credit for performing under difficult circumstances - and, again, I am truly glad we were able to attend.:)

I wonder, Clarisse, if you know how they felt about their time in NYC?

#15 Estelle

Estelle

    Platinum Circle

  • Foreign Correspondent
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,706 posts

Posted 26 May 2002 - 09:04 AM

Hi Clarisse! Nice to see another poster from Paris :)

It's a pity that the dancers didn't have more time to recover from jet lag before their performances...


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):