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In a recent review on http://www.imagidanse.com , Rene Sirvin wrote that the principal dancer Carole Arbo will dance her last official performance on March 8, 2001, in a Robbins program. On that night, she will dance the second pas de deux of "In the Night", and also "Other dances" with Manuel Legris.

Usually principals choose a full-length work for their last official performance (often "Giselle" or "La Sylphide"), so it's quite unusual to say good-bye in a mixed bill. I hope that Carole Arbo will be thanked by the audience on that evening... She became a principal dancer quite late, in 1993, at the age of 32, but had already danced quite a lot of big roles before then.

Other news: it was announced one week ago that Monique Loudieres, a former POB principal (now 45) had just become the director of the Ecole Superieure de Danse de Cannes (founded by Rosella Hightower).

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The POB annual competition was yesterday. The results were posted by Catherine on ballet.co.uk.

The jury included:

-Five dancers (elected by their peers) : Lionel Delanoe (premier danseur), Yann Bridard (premier danseur), Nicolas Le Riche

(principal), Jose Martinez (principal), Nathalie Quernet (sujet), plus Jean-Guillaume Bart (principal) as a substitute.

-Five other people: Hugues Gall (director of the Opera), Brigitte Lefevre (director of dance), Patrice Bart (ballet master), Raymond Franchetti (former ballet master), Elisabetta Terabust (former director of the Ballet of la Scala de Milan). Substitute: Clotilde Vayer (repetitrice, former premiere danseuse).

The voting system is quite complicated- but it seems that in general, the decisions are made by Lefevre and Bart.

(The rest in another post).

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The hierarchy includes five levels: etoile (principal), premier danseur, sujet, coryphee and quadrille. The etoiles are chosen directly by the director of dance (they're not necessarily premiers danseurs, for example Hilaire or Legris were only sujets when they became etoiles). All the other promotions depend on the annual competition. In each category, there is a compulsory variation for everybody, and also a "free" variation (which has to be chosen in the company's repertory).

A (*) indicates the dancers who got promoted.

I also indicate the free variations chosen by the dancers, and their approximate age (thanks to Catherine for the information).

-Male sujets:

Compulsory variation: Solor's solo in "La Bayadere", act II.

1- Jeremie Belingard (*) - L'Arlesienne (Petit)- 25

2- Karl Paquette (*)- Esmeralda pas de deux-


3- Emmanuel Thibault - Paquita, grand pas- 26

4- Christophe Duquenne - Notre-Dame de Paris (Petit), Frollo- 29

5- Yann Saiz - Marco Spada (Lacotte)- 27

6- Herve Courtain - L'Arlesienne (Petit)- 28

Male coryphees:

Compulsory variation: Les Mirages (Lifar)

1- Herve Moreau (*) - Paquita, grand pas- 24

2- Alessio Carbone (*) - L'Arlesienne (Petit)- ?

3- Bruno Bouche - Romeo and Juliet (Nureyev)- 23

4- Nicolas Paul - Raymonda, Abderam variation (Nureyev)- 20

5- Jean-Christophe Guerri - Portraits de danseurs (?) - 33

6- Vincent Cordier - Giselle (Ek) - 27

Male quadrilles:

Compulsory variation: Giselle, Albrecht's variation in act II.

1- Mallory Gaudion (*) - La Sylphide (1st variation of act 2) - 23

2- Stephane Bullion (*) - Swan Lake (Nureyev, Rothbart variation) - 21

3- Alexis Renaud - L'Arlesienne (Petit) - 24

4- Jean-Sebastien Colau - Grand Pas Classique - 23

5- ? Bertaud - Spring and Fall (Neumeier) - ?

6- Adrien Bodet - La Sylphide (1st variation of act 2)- ?

(Bertaud and Bodet entered the company this year, both are very young).

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-Female sujets:

Compulsory variation: Raymonda, act I, Valse fantastique, variation of Raymonda (Nureyev)

1- Eleonora Abbagnato (*) - La Bayadere, Nikyia's variation in act II- 21

There was no ranking for the other dancers. There was supposed to be another available position, but nobody got promoted.

-Female coryphees:

Compulsory variation: Don Quixote, act II (Nureyev)

1- Melanie Hurel (*)- La Bayadere, Nikyia's variation in act II- 26

2- Muriel Zusperreguy (*) - Giselle (Ek) - 23

3- Caroline Bance - Esmeralda pas de deux - 23

4- Marie-Solene Boulet - Notre-Dame de Paris (Petit) - 23

5- Alexandra Cardinale- Suite en Blanc, la cigarette (Lifar) - 25

6- Myriam Kamionka - Les mirages, variation de l'ombre (Lifar) - 28

-Female quadrilles:

Compulsory variation: Raymonda act I, valse fantastique, variation of Clemence (Nureyev)

1- Veronique Cabiac (*) - The Four Seasons,

Fall variation (Robbins) - 27

2- Aurore Cordellier (*) - La Bayadere, Gamzatti's variation in act II- ?

3- Juliette Gernez (*) - Le Corsaire, slow variation - ?

4- Celine Palacio - Vaslaw (Neumeier) - 29

5- Dorothee Gilbert - Arepo (Bejart) - ?

6- Lise-Marie Jourdain - Paquita - 23

Cordellier and Gilbert entered the company this year, and Gernez entered the company last year, all are very young.

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Estelle -- reading your post I was curious...Do the promotions (other than etoile) really depend entirely on the competition performance, or is a dancer's performances throughout the season also taken into account? Is anyone in the company allowed to compete? The system is unfamiliar to me, and I admit it seems a little strange...

p.s. please imagine appropriate accents

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Drew, I don't know the details of the system, but officially there is a note which is supposed to take into account what the dancer did in the season. And in fact, the direction often chooses whom they wish to... Every year, there are some critics who write that the competition should be suppressed, because it is absurd to judge one on a competition, and anyway most results are known in advance. On the other hand, some say that it has the advantage to keep the dancers in shape, since they have to prepare their variations. And the dancers themselves, though they often criticize the system, say that at least it gives the an opportunity to perform a solo on stage (which happens not so often with such a large corps de ballet- for example 27 female quadrilles competed!).

Also, all dancers (except etoiles and premiers danseurs) in the company can compete for the competition, but in their category (i.e. a quadrille can't compete to become a premier danseur).

There's a review by Rene Sirvin about the competition at:


Also, there have been numerous posts about it on ballet.co.uk today (several posters attended it).

Belingard and Abbagnato's promotions are not a surprise at all. Actually, Belingard was expected to become a premier danseur last year, but he got injured a few days before the competition, and the direction chose to promote nobody. Abbagnato had become a sujet just last year, but even when she was a coryphee she was given big roles. It is an understatement to say that there have been many heated discussions on ballet.co.uk about those two dancers... smile.gif

The promotion of Paquette is more unexpected, as he hasn't dance many interesting roles yet. Recently he danced Inigo (the bad guy) in "Paquita". Though his appearance might be well-suited for prince roles (tall, slim, blond), he seems to be better in character roles.

In his article, Sirvin regrets that Thibault didn't become a premier danseur. Most people on ballet.co.uk agreed that he had done excellent variations (however, some say that he doesn't have the qualities to become a premier danseur, and especially that he's not considered as a good partner).

There seem to be debates about the male coryphees too, as Moreau fell in one of his variations (and on the other hand, several people praised Nicolas Noel, who wasn't even ranked).

One thing everybody seems to agree about is that the promotion of Melanie Hurel was fully deserved (and that it should have happened much earlier).

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I am always so happy to read Estelle's detailed reports from Paris. There is so little information in the American dance press about the POB. Thank you, Estelle.

I can add one small fact about the competitions. They go way, way back -- Marie Taglioni was one of the original judges. The Paris Opera always had a very strict hierarchy. Ivor Guest writes about it in "The Romantic Ballet in Paris." In these pre-union times, there restrictions in a dancer's contract according to rank. For example, if you were a certain rank, you could not be forced to dance in a group of eight (think Giselle's friends). You could only be in a group of four, or six.

They also had a very fair system of debuts, I believe. You were a pupil, and then you got to make your debut. You were given three "pas" and had two chances at each of them. That's fairer than our own system today, I think.

Thanks again, Estelle.

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Carole Arbo had her farewell performance yesterday evening. As planned, she danced in "In the night" (second pas de deux, partnered by Kader Belarbi) and "Other dances" (partnered by Manuel Legris).

There is a thread about it on ballet.co.uk:


She will turn 40 next October, but it seems that anyway the direction refused to cast her in any other program until then. It's quite a pity that a principal, who has spent more than 20 years in the company, wasn't given a real farewell performance. frown.gif

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Has it been decided yet which farewell performance Isabelle Guérin is going to do ? When I interviewed her last December there wasn't anything special planned for her either. And in any case she was not very happy about the eventual prospect of having to bow out at the Bastille with "Romeo and Juliet".

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Alexandra: not only aren't they treated equally, but sometimes it seems that some principals aren't treated as well as some sujets... A point which especially shocked me is that, from what was posted on ballet.co.uk, the last bows of Carole Arbo happened in the middle of the program: "Other dances" was the third work of the program, and there was "The Concert" after that. Usually, the last performance takes place in full-length work (often "Giselle" or "La Sylphide"), and there is a very long standing ovation with bouquets, confettis (I don't know the English word for that- well, little colorful pieces of paper falling from the ceiling), etc. There she only stood up next to the piano, before the intermission. frown.gif But people posted that she had a long standing ovation from the audience (and some of her fellow dancers).

It was also posted on ballet.co.uk that she might have been offered a teaching position at the POB school by Claude Bessy.

Marc: from a recent interview of Nicolas Le Riche, it seems that both Fanny Gaida and Isabelle Guerin will have their farewell performance in "Romeo and Juliet" (both partnered by Le Riche). Probably Guerin has changed her mind and has preferred to dance as many roles as possible... Before that, she's supposed to dance in "Manon", but she's presently injured (I was supposed to see her in the Robbins program but she didn't dance the days I attended it frown.gif ) and so the dates have been postponed as much as possible, hoping that she'll be back in shape for the last performances of "Manon". Fanny Gaida will also perform in the Kylian program.

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