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Ed Waffle

Ballet de l'opera de Bordeaux in Motown, 1/27

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First thanks to all who tried to explain what to look for in dancers’ feet when seated very close to the stage. Wish I could say that it worked, but they all looked great to me-—which isn’t to say that they were, only that I still can’t tell good from bad in this case. All ballerinas are beautiful, some more so than others. It is all the attributes of “ballerina-ness”, the entire seemingly impossible package of beauty, grace, strength, talent and hard work that makes them so.

Romeo........Eric Frederic

Juliet.......Emmanuelle Grizot

Mercutio.....Gregory Milan

Tybalt.......Salvatore Gagliardi

Benvolio.....Jean-Jacques Herment

Nurse........Stefania Sandrin

Lady Capulet..Chantal Perpignan

Choreography and lighting...Tilt Harm

Sets and costumes....Michael Forssen

Danced to a recording of Prokofiev’s score.

Emmanuelle Grizot was almost everything one could ask for in a Juliet, especially given the inherent limitations of a truck and bus tour. She was enchanting, moved effortlessly, almost weightlessly and seemed to be a young woman in love. Very attractive with an extraordinarily beautiful jaw line. One of the reasons we go to the theater, of course, is that magic can always happen and it did in the last act, when Grizot changed from a demure and somewhat spoiled teenager to a person capable of making the most momentous decisions.

She just took over the stage completelyin Act III-—it was her act in every way and she was heartbreakingly real. It was a riveting performance, almost shocking in its intensity.

As Mercutio, Gregory Milan was energetic, almost hyperkinetic with a wonderful rakish smile. He is an athletic dancer who covers a lot of ground in his leaps. He was very much into his role and played it like a combination of Puck and Cherubino, with a touch of Nick Shadow thrown in.

Chantal Perpignan did not have much to do as Lady Capulet, unlike other versions of this ballet. She was noble, regal and reserved until the last act, which made her anguish at the death of Juliet all the more heartbreaking. Very effective presentation of this character, both by the choreographer and Perpignan. She is strikingly attractive and bears a strong resemblance to the French film actress Fanny Ardant.

Stefania Sandrin’s Nurse was another very well presented secondary character. It is a terrific role in the play but may be difficult to choreograph the combination of ribald good humor, limitless devotion, wisdom and depth of feeling that Shakespeare is able to create for her.

In Harm’s depiction, Nurse was more a friend and confidant (although still a servant) to Juliet and close to the same age.

Romeo, as usual, was a problem. His character may be difficult to portray—without Shakespeare’s mighty lines Romeo seems to vacillate between being a lovesick kid and a swaggering street tough. In this production he came across as a bit of a wimp, even with the plethora of flashing blades and bad-dude strutting that made up most of the street scenes. What is missing (and which may be impossible to show in ballet) is what makes Romeo a character with whom we can identify. Shakespeare conjures up love, steadfastness, bravery and purposefulness with lines like:

Alack, there lies more peril in thine eyes

Than twenty of their swords! Look thou but sweet,

And I am proof against their enmity.

Extremely effective scenery, mainly painted drops. Everyone knows Prokofiev’s score—it is one can be heard a lot and should be. He would be a genius if it were all that he wrote.

Three curtain calls, a standing ovation, lots of “Bravos” and “Bravas” all well deserved. Not sure of the schedule, but if this talented company arrives at a venue near you they are well worth seeing.

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