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Laetitia Pujol promoted as principal

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Heard this morning on the radio: the POB premiere danseuse Laetitia Pujol has been promoted to etoile (principal) yesterday evening, after her first performance as Kitri in "Don Quixote" (partnered by Benjamin Pech).

Pujol, who is about 25, joined the company around 1993. She studied in Toulouse at the Besso Ballet School, and a won a prize at the Lausanne competition which enabled her to join the POB school for one year (she had danced the role of Lise in "La fille mal gardee" in the school performance of 1993). She was promoted to the rank of premiere danseuse in 2000, after a brilliant performance in "Etudes" during the annual competition.

Actually, this comes as a surprise to me- a good surprise, as she is a very talented dancer, who started as a strong technician but has developed more and more, and displays a pleasant joy in her dance (and the company really needs new principals), but she didn't seem to be appreciated much by the direction, hadn't been cast much in the previous season, and there were more rumors of promotion about Marie-Agnès Gillor or Eleonora Abbagnato. But well, there still are only four female principals (including Elisabeth Maurin who will retire next season) so there's some room for other promotions...

Anyway, I wish her good luck for her career as an etoile.

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A spunky, fair-haired little spitfire, Laetitia Pujol was appointed étoile last night, following the performance of "Don Quixote". Mlle Pujol took on the role for the first time last night a fortnight in advance, owing to an injury to Mlle. Osta.

My personal belief is that this is a well-deserved appointment. Mlle. Pujol is about 26, and it is no indiscretion on my part, as she has already told this to the press, to say that she is the daughter of a Toulouse taxi driver, who had to work like a madman to put his child through dancing school. There is something chin-up, something indomitable about her, which may perhaps come from that.

She is already one of the most outstanding technicians, among the ladies, that the Opera has seen in decades, tossing off double and triple fouettés "invisibly" - that is, without a seam shewing, on her steely little legs. Her Gamzatti, in January, was very remarkable, given her small stature, and her own personality, as unlike that of the femme fatale as one could imagine.

The little hitches and flaws in her interpretation of Kitri last night, can, I believe be attributed

a/ to the truly appalling, unmusical choreography - when, oh when, will these Nureyev pieces be scrapped ?

b/ to sloppy instruction on her variations. I would rather return to this on another thread.

Mlle Pujol is a meat-and-potatoes dancer. She is not an especially pretty woman, she cannot trick the audience into googgle-eyed submission by gorgeous legs, sex appeal, or charm. The quality, the hard work, the dedication, the "no cheating", they are all there, and force one's respect. She is not extraordinarily musical, but then, at the Opera, with two or three notable exceptions, who is ? She may develop it, as an étoile has more time to mull things over.

I think it is a good appointment, a mark of respect to a woman with guts and very high standards. Allow me to raise my hat and cheer !

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Thanks for the information. It must be a great day for the Pujol family!

Did the promotion happen on stage? It used to be like that (and it was a great moment for the audience... The only time when I saw it was in 1993 for the triple promotion of Nicolas Le Riche, Carole Arbo and Laetitia Pujol in Nimes. All of them were crying with joy, and a Wilis- who was Clairemarie Osta- came out of the corps de ballet to kiss Le Riche. A moving moment... :) ) but all the latest promotions happened only after the performances. That is a bit frustrating for the audience, and also for the dancer because it becomes a more "administrative" thing...

I hope that now she'll get enough interesting roles and enough coaching to mature.

My only regret is that it is probably too late now for Clairemarie Osta (who was supposed to dance that performance but was injured) to be promoted, she's a dancer I admire very much. But I'm still happy for Pujol!

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I too was surprised to hear about the promotion, but it sounds a little bit like a Billy Elliot success story for Laetitia!! It is true that she hadn't been cast as much as Marie-Agnès, and I do hope Marie-Agnès is not discouraged by this, in any case, I wish both of them the best of luck. I still remember Laetitia in her Raymonda variation from Prix de Lausanne and the sparkling variation she performed from "Etudes" at Varna; and that was quite a long time ago! I hope she matures into a "true" étoile in the next 15 years.

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No, she wasn't (unlike Gillot or Abbagnato). Now I hope that she will actually be given some roles, because so far she hasn't danced that much this season...

I forgot to add that the last role in which I saw her was Catherine in Belarbi's "Hurlevent", and that I found her very good. The first cast in that role was Gillot, who was excellent too but with a very different style- and the connection between Pujol and Belingard worked much better than that between Le Riche and Gillot (but I've read it improved in subsequent performances).

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Pujol was 'appointed' to 'etoile' only behind the curtain!! It's such a disappointment (I'm sure; unfortunately, I wasn't there for that one!) not to be able to share such great moments with dancers... The public kind of 'guessed' it, as they apparently clapped again as they heard what was going on behind the curtains, but it wasn't 'public'... I don't think they do it overtly anymore, as they used to do in the past... :D

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balletowoman, I agree that it's a bit frustrating that the promotions to "etoile" no longer take place on stage. I wonder why the direction has decided to have such a change: it was a wonderful event for the audience, and I think it probably was great for the dancers (being applaused never hurts... :) )

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No surprise to me. Pujol was a Varna IBC medalist who cause a lot of 'buzz' a long, long time ago...when 14 or 15 years old! If anything, I'm surprised that it took this long. But, as Estelle mentioned, she was not being cast in principal roles. A lot of soloist work - pas de trois in 'Paquita' last year comes to mind.

Aurore Cordelier is another one to watch-out-for in years ahead, IMO. Paris IBC winner at age 15 or 16. Remember you heard it here first. ;)

Thanks for the great news, Estelle, Katherine, et. al.

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Laetitia Pujol was 18 year old when she was graduate in Varna competition. And she didn't win Gold Medal, but just silver medal.

No gold medal was gift these year. Emmanuel Thibault won also silver medal.

It's not because POB dancer won IBC prize, they become etoile and the contrary is possible too.

Jean-Guillaume Bart and Nicolas Le Riche never won medals and they are etoile.

Jean Sébastien Colau won bronze medal in Varna and he will left POB to go to Ballet National du Canada with Lise-Marie Jourdain, his partner in IBC at the end of this season.

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Thanks for the information about Colau and Jourdain, Francoise. Do you know if they will leave only for one year (as Herve Courtain did this season, for example) or forever?

It is a bit worrying to see that several dancers chose to leave the POB in the last few seasons...

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