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Foreign Correspondent
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About Estelle

  • Birthday 03/07/1975

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    avid balletgoer
  • City**
    Lyon, France

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  1. Modern dance companies have been subsidized quite a lot since the 1980s by the French government (ministère de la Culture) and at a more local level ("régions", "départements", cities). It seems to me that modern dance people used to be almost "invisible" and under-subsidized in France until the 1980s, but gradually obtained more power and influence and now it's a bit the opposite. For example, I remember reading an interviw of Guy Darmet, former director of the Maison de la Danse de Lyon between 1980 and 2012 (a theater which programs almost only dance, the only one of its kind in France, which is quite successful with 15000 yearly subscribers) and of the Lyon Biennale festival between 1984 and 2010, who fought for modern dance in France for decades, in which he complained that ballet in France was slowly disappearing. Seeing Tudor works in France is nearly impossible now (the POB had included several Tudor works in its repertory in the mid-1980s under Nureyev's direction, but they are performed very rarely now).
  2. As far as I know, the Spoerli version was staged at the Paris Opera in 1981, with (as the first cast) Noëlla Pontois (Lise), Cyril Atanassoff (Colas), Patrick Dupond (Alain), and Georges Piletta (Widow Simone)n but that version was never danced again at the Paris Opera during the following seasons. In 1987, they danced Joseph Lazzini's version (by the way, J. Lazzini passed away recently), with new casts (especially Manuel Legris and Françoise Legrée). Alymer, the Cramer version after Dauberval will be performed next season by the Ballet du Capitole de Toulouse. It had been staged at first for the Ballet de Nantes (a company which doesn't exist any longer :-( ) in 1989, then in 1993 for the Ballet du Rhin (a company which became mostly a modern dance/ crossover company...) That production was a joint work with Jean-Paul Gravier (former director of the Ballet de Nantes, then the Ballet du Rhin). I once saw an excerpt of it during an open rehearsal of the Ballet du Rhin in Grenoble around 1993 or 1994, and have always regretted since then not having the opportunity to see the full ballet !
  3. Oh yes, I really agree with Jean-Guillaume Bart about that point (and also, if I remember correctly, he was quite negative about Ms Lefèvre's programming). And there is also the dearth of real ballet choreographers in France... It is all the sadder as there is an audience for ballet in France: most ballet productions of the POB are sold out very quickly (for example, last year, most performances of "La Bayadère" were sold out online a few hours after the opening of the online booking), there are touring Russian or Ukrainian companies (of varying quality) performing in several cities... Bart said much the same thing about Marseille after Frederic Flamand became director. He said something along the lines of, "They might as well close the school because its pupils will have no company to join once they graduate." Yes indeed: it was a bit sad to see that Roland Petit left the Ballet de Marseille (for reasons which were never clearly explained- some mentioned it was for tax reasons, as he relocated to Switzerland) only a few years after the school was opened, as he had wanted to establish a school in Marseille for years. The reasons for such changes are not very clear: sometimes it is because of some politicians who want to change things just for the sake of change (or because of some lobbying of choreographers who would like to direct a company), or who imagine that they are doing something very original, and also sometimes it is because a modern dance/ crossover company generally is less expensive than a classical company (fewer dancers, simpler costumes and sets...) Alas, there is no ballet company in France with a real tradition: in one thread about the recent US tour of the POB, people wondered about the very long history of the company and its "continuity", but all the other companies have had a rather troubled history, and in general the repertory was completely modified at each change of director. France has always been a very centralized country, where most decisions are taken in Paris, and where cultural budgets are far more important in Paris than in any other town (for example the Paris Opera is by far the most subsidized institution by the Ministery of Culture). What happens in other cities doesn't seem to interest much the Ministery of Culture (and there's a tendancy to believe that a former POB principal is automatically qualified to be a company director or a school director...) Another company that I forgot to include in the list is the Ballet de Monte-Carlo (technically, not French, as it depends on Monaco, but well, it's very close to France): it still is a company with ballet-trained dancers, but its repertory, which used to include some Ballets Russes works, some Balanchine and some full-length classics under Lacotte's direction (a bit like what he did a few years later in Nancy) now includes mostly works by its director Jean-Christophe Maillot and modern dance/ crossover works. As a consequence, I think that the only Balanchine works to be performed in France during the 2012-2013 season will be a triple bill at the Paris Opera in september-october, and that's all. Nothing in Bordeaux, Toulouse or Nice. That's quite a big contrast with the programming in the US...
  4. Indeed, it is a radical change grom the previous repertory. All the works performed next season will be new in the repertory, except one by Forsythe ! I had seen the Ballet de Toulouse only twice on tour (years ago), performing Balanchine works, and had liked it very much, especially as there as so few opportunities to see some Balanchine works in France (now the only French companies performing Balanchine works are the POB and the Ballet de Bordeaux, and maybe the Ballet de Nice... And while Brigitte Lefèvre regulary claims her admiration for Balanchine, she hasn't programmed many of his works in recent years. But don't get me started on the often wide discrepancy between what Ms Lefèvre says and what she does... ) Nanette Glushak had been the director of the company since 1994, which is a very long period compared to most French companies (something I generally would consider as positive, as a common problem for French companies is the too frequent change of directors, often for reasons of local politics, so that companies don't have enough time to build a repertory and develop a clear identity). The company wasn't very active when she arrived, dancing a fews ballets per season (and mostly performing in operettas), and often inviting Paris Opera dancers as guest stars in the main roles, probably because they didn't consider their own dancers good enough. As far as I know, the level of the company had improved a lot under Mrs Glushak's tenure, and many dancers stayed for a long time with the company.They performed a lot of Balanchine works, including some which had never been performed by French companies before (for example "Lebeslieder Walzer" and "Allegro Brillante" several years becore the POB performed it, "Raymonda Variations", "Slaughter on tenth avenue", "Square dance", "Brahms Schönberg Quartet" which as far as I know had never been performed by another French company), but also for example some works by Tudor, De Mille, Ashton, Cranko seldom seen in France, and several full-length classics (the French wikipedia page for the company includes all the repertory performed there since Ms Glushak's arrival). I don't know what motivated the change of direction (alas, what happens in French provincial companies often has much to do with obscure local politics), but clearly it wasn't Ms Glushak's choice. Here is a link to an interview of Ms Glushak on a French blog: http://www.dansesave...nanette-glushak In the interview, she says that the last season of the company was very successful, with more subscriptions than ever and sold out performances ("c'était complet"), and that when a new director of the Théâtre du Capitole (which includes both opera and ballet), Fréderic Chambert, arrived three years ago, she had been given an offer of direction somewhere else but that the new director had said that he trusted her and liked her work and wanted her to stay. She says that the reasons for her firing were never explained completely, and that the "real" reason might be that they wanted someone from the Paris Opera (and mentions that Kader Belarbi is a friend of hers, whom she has known for 22 years). She doesn't know yet if she will stay inToulouse (she'll turn 60 soon). The repertory otf the next season will include works of the following choreographers: Bournonville (excerpts from Napoli act III), Ivo Cramer after Dauberval (a production of "La Fille Mal Gardée"), Kader Belarbi (3 works, including a new full-length production of "Le Corsaire"), Nils Christe, Jiri Kylian, Stijn Celis, Johan Inger, Angelin Preljocaj, William Forsythe, Jacopo Godani, Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak. Except the Bournonville and the Cramer/Dauberval, all the works in the repertory are posterior to 1978. I used to regret not being able to travel to Toulouse (which is far from Lyon, where I live, by French standards) to see their ballet programs. Well, for the next season, I'll probably have no regrets, especially as the new repertory seems somewhat similar to what is performed by the Ballet de l'Opéra de Lyon (a company whose dancers are ballet-trained but which never performs ballet works, only modern/ crossover works created in the last three decades). Also, about ten dancers of the company (out of 35) left, but I don't know if they were fired or chose to resign. Kader Belarbi has no previous experience as a company director, and I have seen only choreography by him (a full-length "Wuthering Heights" for the POB, which I found rather pleasant but not especially memorable, and whose scenography was more interesting for me than its choreography itself). It's hard to predict what the company will become, and also I don't know why the reason why almost nothing of the previous repertory had been kept (was it a choice of Belarbi, or were there for example some copyright issues ?) But I'm really afraid that it might mean that one of the only ballet companies in France (the other ones being the POB, Bordeaux, and maybe Nice as it seems to be in a better shape than a gew years ago) might become yet another modern/crossover company. I started being interested in ballet 20 years ago, as a teen-ager, and since then, the following French ballet companies disappeared or were transformed into modern/crossover companies (sometimes employing ballet-trained dancers, but without any ballet repertory): -the Ballet du Nord (which became the Centre Chorégraphique National de Roubaix in 1995 and now is Carolyn Carlson's company) -the Ballet de Nancy (which became the Centre Chorégraphique National - Ballet de Lorraine in 1999 after Pierre Lacotte's departure), -the Ballet du Rhin (since Jean-Paul Gravier's departure in 1997- the only ballet works in the company's repertory now are three Balanchine works, and one Tudor work, and the company's future is a bit uncertain after the departure of its director since 1997, Bertrand d'At), -the Ballet National de Marseille (after Marie-Claude Pietragalla's departure in 2004- a case when choosing a former POB principal as company director was pretty much catastrophic...) I hope that the Ballet du Capitole de Toulouse won't have a similar fate. (And if I were the parent of an aspiring ballet dancer, I'd seriously warn him/her that finding a job in a ballet company would very probably mean "moving abroad").
  5. Actually, that program wasn't especially selected for this tour: it seems to be one of their "standard" touring programs, as it has been performed around 2006 in China, in 2007 in Toulouse and Tours, in 2008 in Créteil, Aix-en-Provence and Montpellier, around 2010 in Moscow, and in 2001 in Biarritz, and it also was part of the 2008-2009 season in Paris. I don't think that politics had much to do with that choice (even in France, there still are controversies among ballet historians and critics about Lifar's behavior during WWII, but I think much of the audience is unaware of that)... I guess that maybe those works were chosen partly because they all are by French choreographers and have score by famous French composers. Lifar was one of they key figures of the POB history, and he had a strong influence on the level of the company (which was in a poor shape at the beginning of his tenure), and also on the way ballet was treated at the Paris Opera (before his arrival, for example, the lights were still on during the ballet performances). On the other hand, he probably tended to program too much of his own works, and to continue dancing when he was way past his prime (that's a common point with another great POB director decades later- who also had a huge ego ;-) ), and also he did very little to encourage other ballet choreographers in France. Pairing Petit and Béjart in the same program is a bit amusing, because those two (who had taken classes together with Mme Rousanne- she was the teacher of most of the top French dancers then, including also Jean Babilée, Pierre Lacotte, Yvette Chauviré, Violette Verdy...) were very far from loving each other (and in some interviews shortly before his death, and after Béjart's death, Roland Petit was very negative, and even nasty, about Béjart...) Also, both of them had complicated relations with the Paris Opera. Petit studied at the POB school and joined its corps de ballet, then resigned when he was a sujet (aged 21) to start his own company.He worked again with the POB only 20 years later, in 1965 (some years after Lifar's departure), when he created "Notre-Dame de Paris" for them. He also accepted to become the POB director in 1969, in a period of crisis following the departure of John Taras, but eventually resigned before actually becoming the company director (and Béjart refused that position too). Unlike Petit, Béjart was not trained at the POB and never was a dancer of the company, but he created his first work the the POB, "La Damnation de Faust", in 1964 too, and later created several works for the company. There was later a long period when he didn't want the POB to performed his works any longer (the company performed no Béjart work between 1986 and 1995), but after the revival of his "Ninth Symphony" in 1995, the POB performed some of his works quite often. I don't know well the ballets of that program, having seen "Suite en blanc" and "L'Arlésienne" only twice if I remember correctly , and "Boléro" only on video (with Jorge Donn). But I wonder to what extent they are works very "dancer-dependant"... And I don't know how faithful the company is with Lifar's style, especially as "Suite en Blanc" wasn't performed between 1996 and 2006 and much of the other Lifar works have fallen into oblivion. Also, I found Manuel Legris absolutely great in "L'Arlésienne", but Legris was a dancer who probably could have been mesmerizing just standing still on a stage while reading a phonebook, and I think I enjoyed more his performance than the choreography itself; it looked like a minor Roland Petit work to me.
  6. It is something like "Half of the 150 dancers gives performances in Chicago, where the POB presently is on tour. With Brigitte Lefèvre leading the group. Let's hope that it won't come to anybody's mind to settle their accounts with each other the same way as in Al Capone's time !" (Of course, it is not meant to be serious). And to reply to a previous post of yours: Actually, I don't think that such a list makes sense. At the POB, the word "répertoire" includes everything that has been danced by the company at least once (even if it hasn't been performed for decades). In this list, there are many choreographers whose works haven't been performed by the company for a very long time (and sometimes the company performed only one work by them). For example, I think the only work by Alvin Ailey they ever performed was "Au bord du précipice" in 1983, and I don't think it has been danced since the 1980s. As far as I know, the only Limon works they danced were "The moor's pavane" (not performed since 1987 as far as I know), and maybe the solo "Chaconne" for some gala but I'm not sure. The only Graham works in the repertory are "Temptation of the moon" (performed for two seasons, around 1994 and 1998) and "Lamentation" (performed only in 1998). The last Cunningham work they performed was as far as I know "Points in space" around 1990 (but they will revive "Un jour ou deux" next season). And I can't even name a work by Nikolais in the POB's repertory... However, he works of some other choreographers of the list have been performed more often, for example Mats Ek's "Giselle" has been performed several times since its company premiere in 1993 and the company performed several other works by him since then ("Appartement", "La maison de Bernarda", and "A sort of"), and they also have danced a lot of works by Forsythe.
  7. There was a recent article (in French) about the POB direction, by Raphaël de Gubernatis in "Le Nouvel Observateur", which was *very* negative about Ms Lefèvre, and mentioned some possible successors. http://tempsreel.nouvelobs.com/culture/20120628.OBS5531/le-ballet-des-atrides.html It mentions that Ms Lefèvre will turn 68 in November, which is older than the normal age limit in France for such institutions. According to the jourbalist, 132 dancers of the company (out of 154) wrote a letter in May (without telling Ms Lefèvre about it) to the Minister of Culture asking about its plans for her succession and the company's future. Somone in the Ministery of Culture told Ms Lefèvre about it, which made her very angry (De Gubernatis compares her to Medea...), shouted insults at the dancers and even left the company for a few days. Then it says that she considers Laurent Hilaire as a potential successor, but that the choice of a successor doesn't belong to her. Among the possible candidates for her succession are mentioned Manuel Legris and Nicolas Le Riche (and that she considers them as traitors). De Gubernatis blames Lefèvre for some poor repertory choices (not the fact of having modern dance works in the repertory, as he compliments her for some of them, e.g. Pina Bausch's "Rite of Spring" and "Orphee et Eurydice", Jerome Bel's "Véronique Doisneau" and the reviving of Cunningham's "Un jour ou deux", but for commissiooning a lot of "mediocre works" which he doesn't name...) and also for her taste of power (comparing her to the empress Catherine of Russia) and for wanting to decide about nearly everything related to dance in France.
  8. Sorry for not having written since last week (and I'm writing this in a hurry before leaving my hotel room). I attended three more MCB performances since then: the two performances of Saturday 9 (matinee with "Symphony in 3 movements", "Afternoon of a faun", "Liturgy" and "Ballet Imperial", evening with "Square dance", "The Four emperaments" and "In the Upper Room") and that of yesterday evening ("Theme and variations", "Promethean Fire" and "Nine Sinatra songs"). I loved all the performances (and so did the rest of the audience, considering all the applauses... especially for the Saturday evening performance). The ballets I preferred were "Symphony in three movements" (with Katia Carranza, Carlos Guerra, Tricia Albertson, Daniel Baker, Patricia Delgado, Renan Cerdeiro- but the whole corps de ballet was wonderful too), "Square dance" (with Jeannette Delgado and Renan Cerdeiro again), "The Four Temperaments" (I especially liked Kleber Rebello, very musical in the Melancholic variation, and Patricia Delgao and Renato Penteado in the Sanguinic pas de deux) and "Theme and variations" (with Jeannette Delgado and Renato Penteado). I find that "Afternoon of a faun" less interesting than some other Robbins works, but Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg and Carlos Miguel Guerra were very good in it and it made me appreciate it more than when I saw it at the POB several years ago. I also liked their partnership very much in the "One for the road" pas de deux of "Nine Sinatra songs" (my favorite moment of that ballet, with "Softly" with Jeannette Delgago and Jeremy Cox (very romantic), and "Domani" with Patricia Delgado and Kleber Rebello- but all the couples were great, and Katia Carranza and Renato Penteado in "That's life" were especially applaused by the audience.) "In the upper room" was very, very well received by the audience; I had liked the energy and dedication of all the dancers, but was not especially fond of the choreography (and of the Philip Glass score)... I even found it had become more "dated" than the two Balanchine masterpieces which had been performed just before and were decades older, and was a bit sad to see that it made the audience far more enthusiastic- but well, maybe it wasa because it was the last performance of the evening ! Well, I have to leave- and am looking forward to the last two performances I'll see today !
  9. Just a few words in a hurry to say thay I enjoyed immensely the MCB performance that I saw yesterday at the Chatelet, and especially "Square Dance": I think I've completely fallen in love with that ballet (I had seen it for the first time two months ago in NYC by the NYCB) and Jeannette Delgado was absolutely lovely in it, charming and musical and light, and doing all those tricky steps as if it were the easiest thing on Earth ! I wonder if for example she's already danced "Sonatine", or some other works of the Verdy repertory ? I got a bit sleepy during "La Valse", alas (the culprit is not MCB, it's a 10 months old baby girl who doesn't sleep through and has just had a third teeth which makes her nights, and ours, even worse...:-( ) and so couldn't appreciate it fully. But "Symphony in Three Movements" was wonderful too (it's a work I didn't like that much when I saw it for the first time about a decade ago, but now I tend to like it more and more each time- except I still don't like much those pinkish costumes for the female soloists which are quite unflattering !), the company performed it with much joy and energy and it was a great ending to the performance (much applaused !) Maybe gluttony: I'll see five other performances, but wish I could afford to see all the others!:-)
  10. Justdoit, Kristen, bart, many thanks for your replies ! Kristen, I wish I could have seen the Novosibirsk ballet in Paris last summer (but I was 8 months pregnant back then, and travelling was not very easy...) bart, I think I saw Yann Trividic on stage once... but it was about a decade ago, when he danced "Romeo and Juliet" with the Ballet de Marseille, so I guess he must have changed quite a lot since then. :-)
  11. I'll be attending 6 of those performances (going to Paris two week-ends in a row to see them), and am eagerly looking forward to seeing it ! I'm especially glad that they will perform so many Balanchine works (especially as the next POB season will alas not include any Balanchine work...) I just regret that they will be performing at the Théâtre du Châtelet, because its sight lines often are quite awful (bizarre, unconvenient columns here and there...), even though it's a theater with a glorious ballet past (many Ballets Russes works, including "Pétrouchka", "Les Sylphides", "The Rite of Spring"...) I'm especially looking forward to seeing "Square dance" again: I saw it for the first time on May 3 in New York by the NYCB, and will see it 3 times by MCB (July 8, 9 and 16). I'm also impatient to discover several ballets for the first time, especially "La Valse" on July 8 and Ballet Imperial" on July 9... and also to see again "The Four Temperaments" twice (July 9 and 16), as it's one of my very favorite ballets. Question to MCB regulars: are there some dancers that you'd especially recommend watching ?
  12. Thanks for the information about the next season, cygneblanc ! Here's another link to the list of ballets of that season (a bit easier to read): http://www.operadeparis.fr/cns11/live/onp/Saison_2011_2012/Ballets/index.php?lang=fr I'm looking forward to Jean-Guillaume Bart's version of "La Source" too. As far as I know, it will be his first ballet created for the full company (so far, he had only done works for the POB school, or for some "young dancers" programs). I'm a bit surprised about the reconstruction of Lifar's "Phèdre". I hope it won't seem too "old", especially the costumes... I wonder when it was last performed at the POB: as far as I know, not in the 2000s or 1990s... But I wish they had programmed another Lifar ballet with that one, for example "Les Mirages". I'm looking forward to the world premiere by Ratmansky (on some music by César Franck). It's nice to see that they will perform "Dances at a gathering". It was last performed by the company in the early 1990s. The list of principals has changed so much since then- I wonder how many dancers of the previous POB casts still are in the company ? Le Riche, Letestu, Dupont ? But what a strange idea to pair it with Ek's "Appartement", one couldn't imagine a more different work. As in the current season, there will be only two mixed bills in that season... (Lifar-Ratmansky and Robbins-Ek, while in 2010-2011 it was a Petit program and Balanchine/ Brown/ Bausch). There will be 8 full-length works, including two which are some operas with dance (Pina Bausch's "Orphée et Eurydice" and Sasha Waltz "Romeo and Juliet"), and 6 "classical" ones (Nureyev's "La Bayadère" and "Cendrillon", MacMillan's "Manon", Ashton's "Fille", Cranko's "Onegin" and Bart's "La Source"), instead of 9 full-length works in the current season. I noticed one sad announcement in an article of "Le Figaro" announcing the season: principal Hervé Moreau will stop dancing (he's only 33, and had become a principal in 2006). The reason was not mentioned, but Moreau had been injured several times in recent years (including a severe injury on stage in 2009 during an Australian tour). How sad for him to have to stop dancing so young ! From what I've read: there will be several changes to the roster: Delphine Moussin had turned 42 and has already retired (unfortunately, she didn't even have a farewell performance), José Martinez will retire next season... Also ballet master Patrice Bart will retire on April 30, 2011 and his successor will be former étoile Laurent Hilaire. And sujet Béatrice Martel will become one of the assistant ballet masters.
  13. As far as I know, Julien Cozette is Emilie's brother. cygneblanc, thanks for your posts, and good luck with your PhD ! I hope that later you'll have enough time to post your impressions about the competition. I guess the absence of ranking must have been very frustrating for the female sujets (I remember a rather similar situation some years ago, when two positions were available but only one dancer was promoted... It seems to me that it was the year when Eleonora Abbagnato was promoted, but I'm not sure.)
  14. I think that he's particularly remembered for The Persuaders in France too. This show has been especially popular in France, and has been shown a huge number of times on TV (almost every year). Actually, part of its success was due to the dubbing voices, and especially Michel Roux's dubbing of Curtis (Michel Roux, who also was a theater actor, died in 2007, and his obituaries mentioned mostly that dubbing).
  15. Unfortunately, it seems that the video isn't available any longer (it says "an error occurred").
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