Results of the Annual POB Concours (2002)
Posted 17 January 2003 - 02:55 AM
Below, how she concludes, under the sub-head "Favouritism":
"The Concours does have meaning (joue son plein effet) for the hierarchy's lower ranks...Things become less effective, however, when one moves up to compete for the rank of premier danseur. Here, well before the run-off at the Concours itself takes place, Management sorts out those dancers it wishes to allow to rise, from those who, for reasons of concern to Management alone - reasons quite outwith the public's grasp - are of no interest to Management.
"Last year, Celine Talon, an outstanding artist, pulled off a stunning Concours. Not promoted. The same sanction was meted out to Emmanuel Thibault, dismissed yet again after an astonishing Concours, the more so, as he has done that every time (this must be the third, or the fourth Concours), and just as he has been doing these past evenings in the Theatre, in the "Paquita" pas de trois, where he has unleashed quite an uproar.
"If this sort of behaviour goes on, one is entitled to wonder whether the annual Concours, instituted in 1860 on the advice of Marie Taglioni, still enjoys any credibility whatsoever ?"
Ariane Bavelier "
Posted 17 January 2003 - 07:39 AM
From my limited reading about Paris, I think there has been persistent questioning of the concours for years (I don't dare guess at how many). One defense of them that I've read is that they really don't bear on the promotion process, but they give an opportunity, especially for the corps dancers, to dance a big, classical variation and that is good, both the learning of it, and that it lets the company direction see the dancer in such a role. Otherwise, there would be no such opportunity.
What do you (and all of you here) think of that argument?
Posted 17 January 2003 - 07:41 AM
- which are the jury's choice ?
- which are the audience choice ?
and why their choice are often not the same.
I think we need to see what need a true post of premier danseur or première danseuse. They are actually "étoile" without title, they must be able to dance leading part and to dance classical and modern ballet.
Ariane Bavelier is right in her view about "trucage" but not in the choice of the named dancers in her article. She choosed two dancers who have not the premier danseur profile if we considerate what POB dance direction wait from them. They are loved from audience, Emmanuel for his high jump, and virtuosity, Celine for her personnality especially in contemporary works.
Emmanuel Thibault is an exciting "virtuose", a brilliant technician, but he is not a partner and can't dance this famous leading part than all the premier danseur dance now as Solor (Romoli, Paquette and Pech danced it), Siegfried (Moreau and Pech danced it), Lucien in Paquita (Paquette, Pech, Bélingard danced or must dance it), Albrecht (Pech, and Romoli danced it), Romeo (just Duquenne who is sujet was able to replace all the injuried dancer two years ago). And more he can't dance all the contemporary work, it's not his part. I think it's an important thing to see, and we must not say "It's not normal, he is not promoted", because we love him, we must see that he doesn't correspond to the actual physical and abilities criters to be premier danseur !
Celine Talon is a true modern dancer, but you need to be a complete artist in POB and must be able to dance big part in classical ballets, if Celine danced Mats Ek Giselle, and all the contemporary works with too many talent. I adore her ! I think she is not for the same reason imposed by POB criters a première danseuse.
It's for that I spoke of two sort of judgement, the audience judgement who don't know all the other views to judge to become premier danseur and the jury who knows it. Now it's true that in this case, they don't choose the best too ! For exemple, a dancer as Fanny Fiat is more a premiere danseuse than Mélanie Hurel, I must say I appreciate Mélanie, but she has not this something "more" who makes from her a premiere danseuse.
I think the article of Ariane Bavelier will be more true if they choose dancer as Fanny Fiat, as Christophe Duquenne, or as Delphine Baey or Pierre-François Vilanoba. These two last dancer must become premier(e) danseur(se) because they have all the necessary qualities to be it. Delphine was so good as classical than in contemporary. She was depreciated after a wonderful concours, two years ago. Two place was free, the first goes to Eleonora Abbagnato, it was normal, she is an artist, she has something more, but what say about Delphine, she makes wonderful seasons and makes an incredible competition, she was the best. She was not ranked and left POB for Marseille where she stayed. For Vilanoba it's the same thing, he was a magnificent dancer, good partner, good as well in classical as in modern, they don't promote him and promote nobody. He prefered leave POB and is now Principal at SFB !
All this speech, sorry for the long way and my bad english, to say we must considerate all what is important for premier danseur category and not say "we love him, he is good, he must be..."
Posted 17 January 2003 - 07:53 AM
I wanted to make one comment about the rank of premier danseur in general, though, and that is that there have been many dancers who were promoted to principal who were not Albrechts, or Auroras -- this used to be the norm. There were danseurs nobles and danseurs de demicaractere, and a company needed, and rewarded, both. She's retired now, but Kathleen Moore was one of the most exciting principals at ABT, and she never danced a leading classical role. She was that rarest of creatures, a character ballerina. The Royal Ballet had a star for years, Wayne Sleep, who was tiny -- much too small to dance the "Prince roles," and there wasn't much of a repertory for him, but the direction (several directions) either created or acquired roles for him because he was a virtuoso. So there are precedents for this.
Posted 17 January 2003 - 09:27 AM
Therefore, for the time being - that may of course change - France is "tuning fork" to the world's orchestra of dancers.
The question of who is premier danseur is thus one of some little importance.
Dispute over this or that individual is highly counter-productive. Everyone and his kid brother reads these Websites. Even ADs read these Websites. One does not wish to stir the waters.
But, certain dancers represent a principle. Erik Bruhn, though I was never partial to his acting or mime, most certainly does represent a principle. His dancing was always to the highest standards. His work on technique, for himself and others, was incessant, throughout his life. He wrote books on technique, and here is one person who knew what he was talking about. No-one could see dancing to that standard, and then utter some triviality like "don't like it when men dance".
Galina Ulanova represents a principle, the principle of beauty and love. Her actual dancing may have had flaws, but who would ever have seen it ?
Things becomes rather tetchier when one talks about people on active duty in the armed services, so to speak. And speaking of armed services, there IS a sort of war on at the moment, between those who think that ballet is some sort of IN YOUR FACE thing, where you LET IT ALL HANG OUT, spray them with bullets, or ballets, or whatever, stick that LEG RIGHT IN THEIR FACE, and people who quietly go out there, and dance to the music, with taste, elegance, and inspiration.
The Thibault case has been debated in the daily newspapers, in the trade press, on the Web, and every evening in the theatre. Were the fellow a buffoon, playing for effect to the gallery, fine. Hats off to Management. But, despite an occasional bezerker episode as the Bronze Idol (man, was that bad !) he is NOT a buffoon.
In recent years, as dancing has become a branch of Olympic Gymnastics, the joy has been knocked out of it.
Some resist. There are a few, very few dancers, who, when they go down on stage, the public has to be restrained from bounding up on stage to dance alongside. There is joy in their steps. Thomas Lund is that sort of dancer, Lis Jeppesen was that sort of dancer, the Oaks/Edur lot are that sort of dancer, and perhaps there be some today in Russia or the USA, who dance like that. And M. Thibault is that sort of dancer. Inspirational.
I don't think the classical ballet can survive without it, and it's hard to fathom why that particular quality unleashes such frenetic hostility amongst others in the trade, whom one might refer to as "sad sacks". The photos Alexandra put up recently of the Royal album from 1946 shew us a time when being a ballet dancer did not mean being a sad sack.
Posted 17 January 2003 - 10:39 AM
Too many dancers of the class of the sujet dance some of the leading parts in gala in foreign countries, as Giselle, or Aurora, or Odette/Odile. For example, Clairemarie Osta has never again dance Giselle part at POB but she dance it in Japan.
The dancer who are not premier danseur or etoile can dance leading parts in creation, in modern ballets, they could dance also parts as Gamzatti, Nikya, Dryad Queen but they never dance leading parts. It's for that hierarchy in POB is so hard, and internal concours is each year very important ! All the POB etoile dance the leading part. Even if they dance it just one season, actually they all danced Albrecht, Aurora, Giselle, Odette/Odile (Aurélie Dupont should dance this year but how she is injuried, she was replaced by the new etoile Laetitia Pujol).
I think POB is very special actually. Before when a premier danseur or a premiere danseuse had the leading part, they was very often ranked as etoile, now it's not the case. And they had just ONE performance, and often ONE big part in a season. Now premier danseur dance several performance in several big ballets. It's that POB actually !
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