C-M. Osta appointed étoile
Posted 30 December 2002 - 02:04 AM
What should one make of this promotion to the firmament of the world's dancers ?
Although the appointment of Laetitia Pujol six months ago, on intervention by Hugues Gall personally, was deemed controversial by many, one could see M. Gall's point, clearly. The girl has something, there is a strong emotion underlying the strong technique, something of the do-or-die about her, that forces one respect.
As for Mlle. Osta, she is the tiniest dancer in the Theatre, smaller even than Mlle. Pujol, and very slight, almost to emaciation. Just over five foot tall, her proportions are nonetheless ideal, and her height, or rather lack of it, is not, for that reason, an issue. She has improved technically over the last three years - better balances, more centred pirouettes, more back strength - although one would not perhaps care to go further than that.
By personality, she is a soubrette, of the lightest possible variety, charming, friendly, and - I must say - quite unadventurous.
Now, there is room for soubrettes among the leading artists of this world - even the great Margot Lander was probably more of a soubrette than anything else - and Ninette de Valois, despite her deep and dangerous appearance, excelled in such roles. But those two ladies knocked yer socks off as soubrettes.
Whether Claire-Marie Osta has anything like the presence and authority of the aforesaid - the jury is still out.
A great deal of political to-ing and fro-ing would appear to lie behind these appointments, as in France ( or in Denmark, for that matter) an étoile, even a premier danseur, enjoys the prestige of a high-ranking civil servant. He is in a way, a full-time member of the diplomatic corps.
Mavericks are thus greatly discouraged (OFF WITH THEIR HEAD !), as the case of the unfortunate E. Thibault, who is a far better dancer, would tend to shew. Although M. LeRiche has told the press in the past, that his wife has been "kept down the ranks" owing to her small stature, artistically, one would be hard put to define Mlle. Osta as a maverick !
There may also be administrative reasons: I do not think Elisabeth Maurin can continue beyond this season, as her technique, to one's sorrow, has been slipping badly. The lovely Aurélie Dupont, who is but thirty, and every inch an étoile - I'm not very partial to her dancing, but that's a purely subjective matter - has been seriously injured and out now for over six months. Whether she will dance again, is not known. One very much hopes so, because she is a future leader.
Why the AD has chosen to pass over Marie-Agnès Gillot for promotion time and again, I cannot say. The magnificent redhead is an athlete, bursting with raw energy. A style I am not at all partial to, but again, that's purely subjective. Whether Management feels that she is unclassical (unlikely, coming from Brigitte Lefevre !)....?
At the end of the day, I am sorry to say that this appointment appears to reflect a serious dearth of talent amongst the ladies in the troupe, although the men are probably the most skilful on the planet. Neither the AD, nor M. Gall, had an embarrassment of riches to choose from. How ever have we got to this sorry state ?
We have got there, as I never tire of saying, by allowing the School to choose girls on the basis of what Mlle. Bessy believes to be an ideal physique, certainly one she was never possessed of herself. Etiolated. And then by allowing the stuffing to be kicked out of them. So bland, so boring, so tensed-up about what the teacher thinks - ten years after graduating from the school.
Where is the pizzazz ? Where is the razzamataz ? Where is the showbiz ? Where are the little devils like Violette Verdy, or Solvig Oestergaard ? The strange, the mysterious, the Lynn Seymours of this world ? There must have been some poets amongst the hundreds of girls who have gone through the School over the last two decades - but they were likely kicked out.
Posted 30 December 2002 - 07:29 AM
Posted 05 January 2003 - 01:44 PM
I especially like her in the Balanchine and Robbins repertory (for example I have fond memories of her performance in the first pas de deux of "In the Night" two or three seasons ago).
I hope that Maris-Agnès Gillot will finally be promoted someday too (from what I've heard, the reason why she hasn't been yet might be her very tall height, which makes it difficult to find suitable partners for her- well, perhaps the direction is happy to have her as a première danseuse and make her dance three different roles in the same ballet, as in "Don Quixote" last season ) but nonetheless think that Osta's promotion was deserved, and should have happened earlier. In my opinion, she might not be a "great" principal like Platel, Loudières or Guérin, but she's a very valuable dancer, elegant and delicate.
By the way, Katharine, while I agree with some of the criticism about the school's policy, Osta herself doesn't come from the POB school: she was trained at the Conservatoire, and got into the school only for one year (and I remember some interviews of her in which she said that it had not been easy for her to get accepted by the other students, who had known each other for years).
But I wonder if it is a coincidence that three of the four last promoted principals weren't trained originally at the POB school: Osta from the Conservatoire, Pujol from the Besso Ballet Académie in Toulouse (by the way, in several interviews, she was very, very negative about that school, talking about "brainwashing" and accusing her former teachers to make money at their students' health's expense) and José Martinez from the Hightower school in Cannes. It makes one regret that the POB school doesn't accept any longer Lausanne medalists (as Osta and Martinez) and Conservatoire students. Some might still get into the company first as "surnuméraires", and then being fully hired by the company, but it's really difficult.
Posted 05 January 2003 - 02:23 PM
Posted 05 January 2003 - 07:06 PM
I'm new here.
Well, what I can say is that I was very happy when I learned that Claire-Marie finally got the title she deserves fully to my mind. As Estelle said , it was a real surprise, but a very nice one !
Yeah, it's right she will never be a Platel, a Guerin, or a Loudières but she's a very delicate and romantic ballerina. Elisabeth Maurin's retirement, I think, is scheduled for the end of this season and we are in need of that sort of ballerina.
Thus Claire-Marie is a very intelligent women and she has a lot of sensibility. I can't wait to see her in some new roles, and I hope she will dance Giselle with her husband Nicolas Leriche. That should be a very interesting moment !
Posted 05 January 2003 - 07:11 PM
I hadn't thouoght of Osta being a replacement for Maurin -- but she does seem to be in the same "line" -- small, delicate -- if she doesn't yet have the star power (it seems from these posts; I've only seen her in photographs and a few videos and can't comment on her stage presence.)
Posted 06 January 2003 - 04:19 AM
Actually I'm not sure Osta and Leriche are well suited to each other on stage, as he is much taller than her... I'd rather see her with a smaller partner, like Jérémie Bélingard for example.
Here is a link to an article by René Sirvin about Osta's promotion:
Posted 06 January 2003 - 06:20 AM
Well, seen from that standpoint, there are ladies who are small, adorable, and feather-light, from an interpretive standpoint (Mlle. Osta),
and ladies who are small, adorable, and heavy-weight, from an interpretive standpoint (Mlle. Maurin).
The latter, who has been carrying aloft, more or less alone, the banner of DANCE AS THEATRE, amongst the ladies in this particular Opera House,
has excelled in the lyric-dramatic register (Giselle, Sylphide, Juliet, Nikiya, Odette-Odile) the dramatic (Gamzatti), and the severely classical (Aurora).
The one register on which Mlle. Osta and Mlle. Maurin would tend to meet, is that of "Coppelia".
Definitely not interchangeable personalities. In this respect, I would venture to suggest that the new étoile Laetitia Pujol - also very small in physical stature - will tend, as she gains more experience and stagecraft, rather to resemble Mlle. Maurin in intensity.
Posted 06 January 2003 - 07:52 AM
Regarding Osta, we have a new poster who admires her. Cyngeblanc, what roles have you seen her dance that you especially admire? You wrote that you hoped to see her in "Giselle," but I wondered what you had seen her in that you liked.
Posted 06 January 2003 - 08:07 AM
Estelle, have you already seen a piece danced by Leriche and Osta called Rodin ? I don't remember the name of the choregrapher but the music was one of my favorite pieces, Mahler's Fifth Symphony. I liked their interpretation a lot.
Well, they might not be a very aestheticcaly pleasing match but I think that could have some very interesting consequences on their interpretations ! And I really would like to see them in Giselle or in Romeo and Juliette !
And to etablish them as a pair on stage could be very beneficial for the two of theirs : Claire-Marie would show more drama and Nicholas, whose I think right now he's extinguished (and I appreciate him) would be more passionate !
Posted 06 January 2003 - 08:36 AM
I read somewhere (I won't tell where) that Marie- Agnes Gillot (and I like her a lot, and wish she will get what she deserves, to be an "Etoile") didn't get to be promoted because "she isn't the spouse of one very influencial etoile"
Now she's an Etoile I hope she'll fell free, and let people know what she's. And I think Giselle will allow her to do that !
Posted 06 January 2003 - 08:50 AM
I do think there's a problem, with lack of stage presence -- not just in Paris, but other companies as well. Part of it, I think, is a lack of models -- how does one dance like a ballerina if there are no ballerinas to watch? (Although this is not as much of a problem yet in Paris as it is elsewhere.) And partly what I think you're getting at in your post -- they're too "schoolish," too concentrating on technique, on not making a mistake.
I was told in an interview I did recently with an American dancer that one company was casting the dancers they could count on -- meaning those who would never miss a pirouette, or have trouble with partnering. Other directors might sent out a promising dancer before they were quite ready, on the theory that they need stage experience.
I think trying to guess who gets promoted and who wins competitions can be fun, perhaps, but we'll never know
Posted 06 January 2003 - 09:13 AM
Because of personnal reasons, I know very well the inside of the POB and I'm very aware of gossip and of every problem linked to that .
In Paris, trying to guess who gets promoted isn't fun at all, , and you're going to think I'm mad but for certains cases it shouln't be so inappropriate to speak of a war:mad:
I mean Estelle is understanding what I have in mind, and maybe the others, but I'm not sure if it's a good idea to discuss these issues:confused:
Posted 06 January 2003 - 09:24 AM
But one caution -- it's very difficult to know what's going on backstage. If you speak to one or two dancers, you know their viewpoint, but often it's just that -- their point of view. And as someone who spent ten years writing a book and trying to sort through backstage gossip (not at POB, but at the Royal Danish Ballet) I can tell you that some of it is true, and some of it is false -- deliberately so -- and some of it is because the dancer only knows what happened in one studio, and not the others, or overhears something and misinterpets it. So we do have a rule about reporting what someone says backstage that's off the record.
Does that makes sense? If not, and you have other questions, please don't hesitate to email me. We want to encourage free and open discussion, but we have to remember that these aren't private conversations, and what it's OK to say over dinner to a friend is not OK to say in what is, for all practical purposes, print. So we use journalism rules here.
Estelle, when you have a chance, if you'd like to clarify?
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