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A new Etoile at POB


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Well, after some periods when there was no new Etoile in years, there have been many new promotions in the last few seasons !

Congratulations to Ms Gilbert ! I haven't seen her in a long while, but I'm far happier with her promotion as étoile as with the last two ones... :)

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What an informative article! Thanks, cygneblanc. The story really is quite dramatic.

But despite the difficulties [owing to strikes] the 23-year-old dancer was determined to show her star quality. In the finest tradition of “the show must go on†she turned out a stunning performance that left the ballet-lovers, who had struggled to turn up, gasping and led the Paris Opéra director, Gérard Mortier, to promote her to the rank of étoile at the 155-strong company.

The move took everyone by surprise. “We thought that Mortier was going to thank us for our patience in putting up with the strike-damaged show,†a member of the audience said.

This suggests a spur of the moment decision. Does anyone know if this kind of etoile-promotion happen often? I would have thought more planning would be involved.

I was really interested in the information on the working conditions and benefits that POB dancers receive

Gilbert, though not a striker, recently cited the Opéra’s lavish employment terms, created by Louis XIV in 1698, as one of its big attactions. Dancers of the Opéra ballet can retire, after a minimum of ten years in service, from the age of 40, and must do so by 42, and members of the Opéra choir can retire at 50.

“They take you on immediately with a permanent contract until you are 42, the retirement age,†Gilbert said. “No other ballet company in the world offers such conditions. That way, we can concentrate all our energy and attention on the profession.â€

Gilbert’s attachment to terms of employment is shared by the thousands of railway and Paris transport workers who have been making life a misery since they started their strike last Wednesday. The ballet dancers’ retirement age of 42 is the lowest in all the “special regimesâ€, beating even the train drivers, who are fighting to keep pensions that begin at 50.

:) Would Noel Coward have warned "Don't put your daughter on the stage, Mrs. Worthington" if he knew just how cushy the employment contract could be?
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It was a planned promotion, Bart, no spur of the moment involved really. The only doubt was whether they would really promote her after a performance without any costumes or set, and which a good part of the audience had chosen not to attend as a consequence.

I'm really pleased with Gilbert's promotion, but it really is too bad it had to happen in such circumstances ; it's an important event, and the setting should have been more appropriate !

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Azulynn is right, it was a planned promotion, and actually most POB fans expected Ms Gilbert to be promoted sooner or later considering her fast rise among the POB ranks, the number of big roles she had performed, etc.

:wink: Would Noel Coward have warned "Don't put your daughter on the stage, Mrs. Worthington" if he knew just how cushy the employment contract could be?

The retirement age for POB dancers is indeed 42, but I don't know if they get a pension at 42 or if they have to wait several years or decades for it... cygneblanc, do you know how it works ?

That's indeed quite comfortable compared to many dancers, but one also has to take into account that they generally start working quite early (joining the company at 16 or 17) and there is a very high level of selection, first to get into the POB school and then to get into the company (with sometimes only one or two positions in the year, and now there are so few classical companies in France that the employment possibilites in France are close to zero for ballet-trained dancers...)

One thing that annoys me about some articles about the special retirement systems is that some journalists often mention the example of POB ballet dancers with a really scornful attitude, insinuating that really it must be such an easy job, how shocking that they do retire so early, etc. Would they really expect to see all dancers on stage until 60 ?

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Yes, they get a pension at 42, and like former militaries who get retired very early too, they get their pension and as militaries, are free to do something else at the same time. For some of them, it can be quite lucrative. Please note I'm saying it is lucrative for some of them. It certainly isn't for evereyone. We will note collective agreements ruling POB's dancers' status can't be found on Legifrance, the official site where almost all french laws can be found, while most of that sort of agreements can be viewed on that site. It seems POB and artists trade union don't wish dancers agreement to be made public.

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Oh my God, I am so nervous about this that I cannot grasp the meaning of the article the way I'd want to!

My family got tickets for 31st Dec '07, the "New Year" performance of the Nutcracker. They were really expensive, and we've been looking forward to seeing the POB for quite some time.

Does this all mean that it's possible there might not be a performance? Or a performance with no setting and half the Corps missing?

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I think of all of Nureyev's adaptations of the classics it's my least favorite. It's really creepy. There's no other word for it.

Reply from Nanarina re: Nureyev Versions of Classical Ballets

I find the majority of his work to be fussy and complicated, and does not represent the original productions in In Paris, many of the POB Dancers find his choreography difficult. Whilst their version of Don Quixote is one of the better productions, comparable with Barish. ABT version..

Raymonda seems very little like the original, for instance the wonderful Bolshoi one, Abra. is a true Warrior, not a seemingly weak animal like character as in Nureyevs version. The Court dances and character dances are just that. We know that in Russia these roles are played by specially trained dancers, and they certainly excell in their performance.

I found the recently released DVD of POB Swan Lake to be most disapointing, I liked the fact that the Princess actually appeared in the first Act, before she was taken by Von Rothbart, and also enjoyed the two extra Solo's for the Prince. The final act was also beautiful, particularly the Corp de Ballet variations.

However I felt that Act 3, was a complete let down, for someone who grew up in Russia, and whose first introduction into dance was in native National/Folk Dance, the Character Dances in this part of the Ballet were a disaster. No clear cut lines, a muddle of steps, which were far too balletic and danced in the air, insteadof down into the ground. Mostly featuring ballet steps, instead of the required elements of true Marzurka, Czardaz, etcl

In this sense give me the Bolshoi or Kirov, in preference every time, w :pinch: ho I have seen live and on DVD.

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