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Gala Nureyev Programm - 20 january 2003

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To celebrate the death 10 years ago of Rudolf Nureyev, POB organizes a Gala at january 20. Programm is composed by ballet choreographied by Nureyev and two importants parts of Nureyev.

Evening will begin with traditionnal Defilé of Corps de ballet

after we will have a short film about the dancer/choreographer

we must see

  • Chants du compagnon errant - Chor. Maurice Béjart, Mus. Gustav Mahler - Manuel Legris, Laurent Hilaire
  • Raymonda, female variation, act III "la claque" - Elisabeth Platel
  • Don Quixote, act III pdd - Laetitia Pujol, Jérémie Bélingard
  • Romeo and Juliet, balcony pdd - Elisabeth Maurin, Benjamin Pech
  • Cinderella, final pdd - Aurélie Dupont (if she recovers from her knee injury), Jean-Guillaume Bart


  • Marguerite and Armand - Chor. : Frederick Ashton, Mus; : Frantz Liszt - Sylvie Guillem, Nicolas Le Riche, Sir Anthony Dowell and Christopher Saunders


  • Bach Suite - Chor. Francine Lancelot - Kader Belarbi
  • Swan Lake, men polonaise highlight from act 1
  • Swan Lake, black swan pdd - Agnès Letestu, José Martinez, Wilfried Romoli
  • Bayadère - Act III "Kingdom of the shades" - Isabelle Guérin, Manuel Legris and Karin Averty, Clairemarie Osta (she could be replace as she became etoile last sunday) and Delphine Moussin

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I managed to get a ticket (somewhere up in the amphithéâtre) for 73 euros. Quite extravagnt I must admit, but wouldn't have missed it for anything. Apparently this is a black tie event (is that what one calls it ? ) "robe du soir pour Madame, smoking (alias tuxedo) pour Monsieur".

I am very much looking forward to the défilé.

Tickets are indeed on sale at the box office this morning, teletickets are sold out.

Will be happy to post aswell.

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Vila, please do. As I've said in other threads, there is an interest in POB from the Americans on this board, and we'd love to have regular reports -- so I very much hope you do post! (Not just on POB, of course. If you're seeing other things, please let us know about them.)

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Some changement in the program they add in first part of the programm Nutcracker pdd from act II with Clairemarie Osta and Laurent Hilaire and they invite Monique Loudieres to dance the excerpt of Cinderella with Jean-Guillaume Bart (it's the act II pdd).

Order of appearance change too, Chants du compagnon errant are at end of the first part. Melanie Hurel replace Clairemarie Osta as second Shade in Bayadere "Shade act"

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Elisabeth Maurin has been featured on TV today during a short period of time. They got her there for speaking about the Tribute. She said all the dancers would have a very special feeling during that night and she would be more nervous than usual. She also explained of which way Rudy influenced her dance. She said his narrative choregraphies helped her do develop her interpretations especially on the dramatic aspect. When she was asked about her future, she responded she would like to pass on what she has learnt. I mean in more explicit terms, she 's aspiring to teach. Claude Bessy said once in an interview that Melle Maurin would teach at Nanterre after getting retired

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Thank you for those updates, Francoise (sorry for the belated thanks!) and cygneblanc. I'm always so jealous when I read about dance on TV in Europe -- this wouldn't happen on American television. They notice dance when Balanchine or Graham dies. that's it now.

It sounds as though it will be an exciting program.

A general note to those with an interest in POB. Marc Haegeman has done a series of interviews with French dancers -- Maurin, Platel, Guerin, Legris, Letestu -- for DanceView, and I've wanted to put them up on the DanceView site but haven't had the time. I HOPE I'll be able to do that this week, and when I do, I'll let you all know. I think they're excellent, if I can say that about my own magazine :) Very detailed, capture the personality of the artist, and I think you'll enjoy reading them.

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New changement but in cast this time.

Jeremie Belingard, again injuried (he didn't perform in Paquita, Lucien's Part beside of Clairemarie Osta and was replaced by Jean-Guillaume Bart) is replaced by Nicolas Le Riche in Don Quixote pdd.

Other changement, Karin Averty who will dance the first shade in Bayadere will be replace by Nathalie Aubin.

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This evening began with Grand Défilé du corps de ballet in spite of an evident lack of rehearsals and the fluctuating lines, he allowed us to see again in this magnificent walk, the female etoiles which left it too fast as Isabelle Guérin, Elisabeth Platel and especially Monique Loudières more applaused than all the others.

A movie made on original ideas from René Sirvin and told by Laurent Hilaire, allowed us to see some Rudolf Noureev's images at the top of its glory, few new images, but the key moments of its career, his freedom in 1961, Marguerite and Armand, Swan Lake with Margot Fonteyn, to arrive at Bayadère.

The evening really began finally, one can consider that this honoring consists of several parts(parties), the second readings of the big classical authors, the original choreographies and the roles standing out with the dancer.

The evening thus opened on the variation of the Raymonda's act III "La claque", danced by Elisabeth Platel who missed a little of presence, but reminded us, that Nureyev wanted a "noisy" version of this variation and not a silent variation. Then it was the pas de deux of Nutcracker where Clairemarie Osta was brightening notably in her sauté on points, light, immaterial, regrettably Laurent Hilaire was a little bit absent as partnership. Followed a new second reading with the Don Quixote's Adagio by Laetitia Pujol and Eric Vu An which relieved unwell Nicolas Le Riche but could only assure the Adagio and not the variations. If Eric's noble look, reminded us the big style imposed by Nureyev, the visible lack of rehearsals cruelly was smelt notably in pirouettes.

After some revival re-choregraphied, arrived original choreographies, it was at first, balcony pdd of Romeo and Juliet. If Elisabeth Maurin showed all the qualities of Nureyev's eoile, with a unique style, a youngness, she suffers from Alessio Carbone's performance, recently promoted first dancer and very disappointing in Romeo, very rough receptions in his double assemblés.

The magic moment of evening with Monique Loudières's appearance, more graceful and lyric than never came, she was incomparable in the pas de deux of Cinderella's stool beside a Jean - Guillaume Bart which was not without calling back by its elegance and its style, Manuel Legris. What moment of big emotion !

First part ended with the first honoring to Nureyev as dancer and presented Les Chants du Compagnon errant of Béjart with the enemy brothers of formerly Laurent Hilaire and Manuel Legris. At the top of their art, they were the magnificent interpreters of this pas de deux, Laurent Hilaire upsetting, merciless Manuel Legris, magnificent honoring returned by both Nureyev's etoile to the one who made of them both bigger male Etoiles of the Opera !

Second part always dedicated to Noureev dancer allowed to admire Marguerite and Armand created by Frederik Ashton for Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev and danced for this evening by Sylvie Guillem and Nicolas Le Riche. This ballet which tells the history of Camilla, is an intimist work, and grand at the same moment. Far from the usual Parisian performances of the renegade etoile, Sylvie Guillem offers us alternately triumphant, loving, wounded, dying Marguerite, with the same happiness, her play is differentiating and perfect, and the ballet allows us to discover in France a facet underestimated by its talent. Beside her, Nicolas Le Riche pulls passionate one Armand, but if the technique is impeccable, everything is very well-trained, his game is by too much exaggerated notably his entrance and especially his despair to Marguerite's death and its noisy sobs. Anthony Dowell made his debuts on POB stage being Armand's father with his dignity and his trouble.

Last part showed us Noureev's various aspects, amator of all the kinds of dance including baroque dances in an extract of Bach Suite 2 masterfully interpreted by Kader Belarbi who chiselled all the steps.

It was as well the honoring of the corps de ballet with the Swan Lake Polacca settled for the boys of the corps and danced with one accord. The famous Pas de trois of the black swan remembering that Nureyev was a theater man, with his conception of Rothbart's male role. Agnès Letestu, José Martinez and Wilfried Romoli were brilliant in this however theatrical extract it is in the adagio for the endless balances or in their chiselled, perfected variations. A pure moment of happiness.

The evening ended on shadows act of Bayadère, last ballet choreographed by Rudolf Noureev for POB before his death, the feminine corps de ballet honoured the choreographer with a perfect ensemble completed in the famous descent of the shadows, this act allowed us to find Isabelle Guérin beside Jean - Guillaume Bart. Regrettably it was not the best Nikya of the etoile, the technical problems are too visible for whom saw her since the creation, Jean - Guillaume showed himself an attentive partner and a virtuoso brilliant Solor notably in the redoubtable maège of double assemblés. Nathalie Aubin, Mélanie Hurel and Eleonora Abbagnato to dance the three shade variations If Eleonora dominates the trios by her grace and her presence, she danced her variation without "brio", Nathalie Aubin dances with her usual mastery first variation and the young première danseuse, Mélanie Hurel doubtless galvanized by her unwaiting title was astonishing of virtuosity and technique in second shadow which descent of statements on pointes !

Evening ended by all the protagonists gathered for endless saluts under the bravos of a public conquered by the talents of our dancers in particular the famous generation Noureev !

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The evening was a great pleaser indeed, starting out with the défilé (all white tutus and white tights) to Berlioz's March from the Troyans. Opened by a little girl from the Opera school and followed by an intricate pattern of students, corps de ballet members, premiers danseurs and interspersed with étoiles descending individually, it gave the opportunity for the public to cheer each and every one along. And boy, did they not miss out on an occasion to display their affection with ovations galore. The opera house for once resembled more a cheering stadium -despite all the mink coats- delighted to “bravo” the dancers going down that steep rake all the way from the magnificent foyer, for once revealed to the pubic. 15 minutes of sheer unadulterated pleasure…tainted only by the unfortunate absence of the étoile Aurélie Dupont (injured) who would have also largely deserved to be thus celebrated ….

Then the short movie and then into the heart of the matter (with offerings as described in the above posting). Each excerpt was danced on a bare stage except for Marguerite and Armand, centrally placed between the two intervals. Guillem was truly out of this world- she can coach actors on acting- whereas Le Riche veered at times to the grotesque by overdoing it, but on the whole it was most moving and splendidly danced. An “oddity” of great wonder to me was Bach Suite which followed, an excerpt from a piece by Francine Lancelot, all baroque steps performed by a Kader Belarbi, alone center stage (accompanied solely by Christophe Colin’s the gorgeous violoncello) who managed to keep the public mesmerized.

It all ended well past midnight with multiple curtain calls :everybody on stage rightfully beaming and a public reluctant to leave after these wonderful and rare performances. The orchestra, led by Paul Connelly, who truly had given it their best during the whole evening; had already packed up while ovations and curtain calls -with lights on -carried on unabated.

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It was a most beautiful tribute to the man who really set the agenda which took the company finally to world-class status and has kept it there, even ten years after his death.

The Defile is an amazing event and I don't think anyone who sees it can fail to be moved by the sight of the entire ensemble presenting itself to the audience in this formal, structured, fashion. It's entertaining to see just how the Etoiles, (the only dancers allowed to salute the audience directly), choose do this; ie the quick run or the stately promenade. It's also interesting to see who has the biggest group of fans.

Three of the Etoiles Invitees (Guerin, Loudieres and Platel) joined the Defile, Mme Platel appearing last among the women by virtue of her date of nomination. And you wonder how the new girls and boys must feel with all that weight of history behind them. I remember seeing Patrick Dupond just after his nomination. This time it was Clairmarie Osta.

With the exception of Black Swan, none of the pas de deux were given with variations. Eric Vu An presumeably stepped in at the very last minute to partner Pujol in the Don Q pas de deux, which was altogether a bit subdued I thought. Unlike Francoise, I was really rather impressed with Carbone in the Romeo and Juliet extract and Maurin was magical as ever in this role. (Nureyev once remarked that in some ways she reminded him of Ulanova).

Platel in her Raymonda variation,did the almost impossible, filling that vast stage with no decor, no supporting dancers, just by the strength and style of her dancing.

Osta was enchanting in the Nutcracker pas, and I loved Loudieres and Jean Guillaume Bart in Cinderella. She looked wonderful - the height of chic and it really is the most enchanting and ingeneous number. Romance on a revolving stool.

But the highlight for me in this part of the programme was the Bejart Wayfarer pas de deux, originally made for Nureyev and Paolo Bortoluzzi. I belive Bejart has withdrawn this from performance but allowed it to be staged again this one time. Hilaire (in the Nureyev) role and Legris danced it so well and with such conviction that you couldn't fail to be moved, especially by the ending. I was in tears as was, I suspect a large part of the audience and indeed, Bejart himself was clearly visibly moved when I saw him in the second interval.

Marguerite and Armand went down a storm, even though Le Riche had to simplify some of the choreography because of his injury. Anthony Dowell was making his debut at the Palais Garnier as Papa, but I didn't think his was quite right. He's physically too small apart from anything else and the mustache makes him look cross rather than stern. I overheard somone in the audience remark that it was 'a very English ballet'. I'm not sure what that means. But needless to say Guillem was ecstatically received, and with reason.

I should mention also that Wayfarer benefited from really beautiful singing by Dietrich Henschel and Kadar Belarbi in the 'ballet du cour' style Bach Suite also had an excellent musical accompaniment from Christophe Coin on cello.

Really, really impressive though was Nureyev's choreography for the Polacca from Swan Lake Act I. A truly virtuoso number for 16 men, brilliantly danced by a cast entirely made up from dancers of Suject rank and below. Frankly, some famous companies would have difficulty casting it with principals.

I'm not a fan of Agnes Letestu and Jose Martinez, but the Black Swan displayed their strengths probably better than anything else on the programme. Then finally the Kingdom of the Shades with Bart and Isabelle Guerin, who was looking somewhat off-form. Of the three shade I liked the newly promoted Melanie Hurel. Natalie Aubin danced well but without distinction and I though the lovely and talented Eleonora Abbagnato failed to get the measure of her variation. The female corps de ballet, whose tribute this really was, rose to the occasion maginificently - all 32 of them.

It was a wonderful evening, and I don't imagine anyone who was there will forget it in a hurry. Rudolf would have approved.

Incidentally, the programme is a fascinating book with a detailed chronolgy of his links with the company, some moving personal tributes and a good selection of photographs. Well worth having if you can manage French.

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Thank you so much, Francoise, vila and Alymer, for writing about this evening.

Alymer, I must say I agree wiith your opening assessment, that Nureyev was "the man who really set the agenda which took the company finally to world-class status and has kept it there, even ten years after his death." If there's any example of how one person can make a difference, it must be this one. (In a way, by virtue of its academy and its history, Paris has always been one of the great international companies, in my book, and there were some wonderful dancers during its down years. But it sure was "on the skids" for a long time, and Nureyev snapped it out of those doldrums in one season.)

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