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28\12 performance POB

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The first of three performances I'm attending this week was 28\12, works of Trisha Brown, Bill Forsythe, and Francine Lancelot. The program notes state that the evening is..."an invitation to journey through the Baroque universe".

The statement fits Lancelot's work and Forsythe's. I had trouble seeing baroque in Trisha Brown-s choreography. I also had reservations about accepting Brown's choreography on the Palais Garnier stage.

While it seems a welcome and generous gesture on the part of the Ballet directors to invite in dance makers of all styles, are the directors also saying that they are culling the best creative output available and suitable for the 154 dancers on the company's active roster?

The evening's 'baroque' choreography comprised:

Lancelot's work for one dancer.

Brown's Glacial Decoy lists five dancers, but only four took bows at the end.

Brown's O zlozony... was choreographed for three etoiles.

Only Forsythe's work used fifteen dancers, about one tenth of the beautifully trained (and statistically most youthful) company worlwide.

The Lancelot work to Bach's Suite no 3 for cello started with some elegant hand and arm gestures that promised a lot. This (I thought) is going to be an explication of how the baroque sensibility crept into the danse d'ecole. This ( I though again) should be really interesting. AFter the Prelude came the Allemande, and the Courante, and the Sarabande, and the Bourees, and then the Gigue.

Alas, all had been said in the Prelude. The performer, Nicolas Paul, was flawless.

Brown's Glacial Decoy was danced in silence, mostly on the periphery of the vast Garnier stage, near the back wings. Two dancers would appear from opposite wings and move left or right but not far from the wings and then another dancer would join them and then one would exit. And so on. This went on for 18 minutes.

The point seemed to be that the dancers not obscure the four black and white photos projected on the lower part of the back wall, at the level of the dancing bodies. The photo images changed frequently, creating a kind of visible pulse that lent some dynamic tension to the stage goings on.

What was baroque about this postmoderm sensibility eluded this viewer.

O zlozony...may be an avant-garde masterpiece for all I know (cf. Alan Riding in NYT and glowing Paris reviews). The two male etoiles dancing together created some moments of dynamism. Brown used the female etoile as an inert body in the opening and closing images manipulated by the two men; and with nothing much to do in between save for pushing on the leg of one or the other man once in a while the Ms Dupont would leave the stage and change skirt.

Are these really satisfying contemporary roles for ballet dancers, moreover ballet dancers of etoile status? Time will tell, I guess.

Forsythe's work had a pulsive industrial score that pushed the dancers into feats of baroque excess. The dancers seemed challenged into relentless activity that provided a visually exciting feast for the audience.

Only one couple's choreography with some slow movements gave respite from the nervous, fast pace of the rest of the 35 minute work.

Forsythe's choreography would gain range with adagio movement.

Will adagio ever be IN again?

Everyone in the Forsyte work was first-rate.

Dancers tht impressed me were Aurelien Houette, Herve Moreau, Eleonora Abbagnato, Jeremie Belingard, Stephanie Romberg and Ghislaine Reichert (a quadrille, I think).

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Chiapuris, your points about inadequate use of the full company and underchoreographed roles for etoiles are the two chief reasons why I find the use of contemporary choreographers by ballet companies ill-advised. In today's economy and efficient-at-any-cost cliimate of inspiration, it's even more dangerous than it was 40 years ago when the practice started. Someone's going to attend one of those nights, and then a Sleeping Beauty night, and say, "Why are we paying for this when these clever fellows can put on a whole evening with only 24 dancers?" Half-used pointe shoes last longer, too, and soft slippers, of course, longer still.

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