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La Fille Mal Gardee


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Here are a few comments on La Fille mal gardee, which we saw last night. We had the opening night casting, with Pollyana Ribeiro as Lise, Simon Ball as Colas, Ilya Kozadayev as Alain, and Paul Thrussell as Widow Simone. Raymond Lukens, ballet master and director of BBII, was Thomas.

The light hearted tone of the ballet is set early on, when the curtain goes up to a scrim showing a stylized, sunny rural landscape, and continuing early in the first act with the appearance of the cock and hens. Great costumes - had to chuckle watching them. Ribeiro is a natural for Lise (and I couldn’t help but think of certain 16 year olds watching her). She and Ball had several lovely dance moments together, and their first act pas was a pleasure to watch. Thrussell was fine as Widow Simone, both in his acting and dancing. Bring on the clogs. I found Alain to be very irritating, which may only mean Kozadayev had the role down pat. We’ll see La Fille again next weekend and then, if we see a different Alain, I’ll be better able to judge if it was him or the role.

Overall I found this to be an entertaining confection, and a good respite from the gloomy world (weather- and event-wise) outside the theater. Youngsters seated near us seemed to enjoy it immensely, so I can recommend it as a good way to bring the younger set to see a ballet.

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We saw La Fille on Saturday, a production with much the same casting as that seen by bbfan. The exception was that we had Christopher Budzynski as Alain, and I really enjoyed seeing him in the role.

The place was packed, so word got out that this was a light hearted piece, easy to enjoy.

I was intrigued by the big part played by dancing with ribbons in this production. I can't say that the ribbons did much for me, especially when danced by the ensemble in Act II. There is one part where half the dancers are down on the floor with their heads above the ribbons, while the other half are on pointe, holding the ribbons above their heads. The dancers on the floor looked rather awkward.

I also enjoyed Lise miming her dreams of being a wife and mother in Act III. This follows a charming part where Lise is pouting about being stuck at home, and she puts her chin on her knees and comes bumping down a set of stairs. These touches of everyday movement in combination with traditional steps were definitely part of the charm of this ballet for me.

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We saw La Fille again on Saturday night, with Sarah Lamb as Lise, Carlos Acosta as Colas, Paul Thrussell as Widow Simone, and Joel Prouty as Alain. We enjoyed the performance even more than the previous week.

Sarah Lamb was terrific, very steady in her turns supported only by ribbons, and smiling throughout while she did them.

I think one of the reviews said that Acosta's acting wasn't as good as his technique - it had improved by Sat night but was still outshown by technique. His leaps and turns were amazing. I thought he projected a more boyish image than Simon Ball had, and that Sarah Lamb seemed a bit more mature Lise than Pollyana Ribeiro (ironic given their respective ages) so it would have been interesting to see an Acosta/Ribeiro pair and a Ball/Lamb pair. Acosta/Lamb gave strong performances, and it wasn't apparent that this was their fourth straight night doing it. They must have been exhausted but it didn't show.

I enjoyed Joel Prouty more as Alain, and of course Thrussell was still very fine as Simone. It seemed that the corps was enjoying themselves a bit more. We often notice improvements the second week, the result of more practice and comfort doing a piece.

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