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Mats Ek's "Appartement"

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Good news Americans ! The Plumbers are Back !

No, Heavens no ! Not June 17th, 1972, Washington DC !

It is, or will shortly be, February 26th, 2003, and a "ballet" entitled 'L'appartement' is about to be up - yet again - at our own dear Opera.

Having walked out of the theatre about five minutes on the last time this UFO with the bidet was being "danced" at Garnier (why, pray, the larger Bastille venue this time ? or am I being irreverent, God forbid ?) , one would not care to predict whether the actual plumbing may work On the Day, but might one throw the topic open to those who DO know something about waterworks ?

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Katharine, I think Viviane is right: the Ek- Teshigawara program will be danced at Garnier (you can check it on the POB's web site), not at Bastille. Actually the only ballet program which will be danced at Bastille before the end of the season is the Béjart mixed bill in May-June.

I'm afraid I'm totally confused with the Washington, 1972 reference. I had seen "Appartement" when it was premiered; I like a lot of some Mats Ek's works, that one was was only half convincing in my opinion. Its excellent cast was one of its main qualities (I especially remember a humorous solo by José Martinez, a pas de deux with Clairemarie Osta and Kader Belarbi, and also an amusing scene with vacuum cleaners) but I had found the music a bit weird and it lacked unity- I find Ek's works more convincing when there is a clear plot, as in his "Giselle". Last time it was paired with Ohad Naharin's "Perpetuum" (amusing but easily forgettable), this time it is paired with a world premiere by Saburo Teshigawara but I have never seen anything by that choreographer, and have no idea what to expect.

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As we have been asked to eschew all political debate on these pages devoted to Art, I can go no further than to state that the reference to Plumbers on

June 17th, 1972

was to a not-unknown Hotel in Washington DC, known as the Watergate Hotel

and to Certain Events surrounding the Democratic Party of the United States, at that time.

Whether that slice of History will solve the dilemma now confronting the Paris branch of the National Federation of French Plumbers and Boiler-Technicians (has non-Union labour been used to set up the bits and pieces of bathroom equipment on the Garnier stage ?) is a moot point.

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Premiere of this new programm is tonight. Against, I can't make a review, because I don't go to it.

I must say I don't love appartement when I saw it at the creation, not because of the dancers, they are really good, but I don't support the music, one of the ten pictures even is a solo for the flash quartet who played live his music. Against as Estelle I love the cleaner vacuum gigue and I love the kitchen scene. I discovered really the Television scene during the promotion concours where Jean-Christophe Guerri who became sujet with this excerpt was absolutely wonderful !

I like Mats Ek work especially his Giselle. Just for information Appartement is a study of the everyday life, with the common scene : cleaning "le bidet", watching television, the street, the kitchen, the cleaner vacuum gigue, and so on. It's very special. All the dancers are every night all on stage but in different parts.

This programm must be recorded to be diffused on Mezzo chanel march 31.

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I saw the last performance of that program on March 14th, so here are some belated comments...

The first work of the program, "Air", by the Japanese choreographer Saburo Teshigawara, was set on some music by John Cage ("Four Walls, Act I, Scene VII" as recorded music, and "Dream", "One^5" and "In a Landscape" played by Frédéric Lagnau).

Some picture of it can be seen there:



I found that work rather pleasant, and especially the parts on "Four Walls" and "In a Landscape" (which sounded a bit like some Satie, while the other two works had long silent parts and I didn't like it much) which were calm, peaceful and flowing, with an atmosphere which reminded me for example of a calm wind in the trees. One thing I liked in his choreographic style is that it pays much attention to the arms and to the upper body (unlike many modern French choreographers who seem to be interested only in the legs), and especially in the main female role which was danced by Miteki Kudo. I was less convinced by the solos of Jérémie Bélingard, whose costume I didn't find especially flattering (bare chest and some white trousers which made him look a little bit like a gymnast). Teshigawara also had created the costumes and the scenography (mostly in black and white), some costumes were very pleasant (like the semi-transparent dress worn by Miteki Kudo or white tops and large pale blue trousers worn by the female dancers), while some others were quite weird (for example boxer shorts and tee-shirts with long sleeves for some men, or black long trousers with strange tops stopping under breast level for some others)...

There was a strong contrast with Ek's "Appartement", the second work of the program, which had been created in 2000 for the company. It includes nine scenes, with names like "The bathroom", "The television", "The kitchen", "March of the vacuum cleaners"... "Appartementt" was as noisy and energetic as "Air" was serene and calm. The cast was mostly the same as that of the premiere, with Marie-Agnès Gillot in a stunning solo with a "bidet" (I don't know the English name for that) which used very well her tall silhouette with long limbs and her way of being funny. José Martinez's solo as a television addict was as funny as in my memory- and it made me realize that my first sight of Martinez had been nearly ten years ago in another Ek work, as Hilarion in his "Giselle"... Ek's work seem to be very well suited to Martinez's talent (perhaps partly because one of Ek's favorite former dancers, the great Yvan Auzely, has the same kind of tall, slim silhouette as Martinez?) and it enables him to show other qualities as those that he uses in classical works (it was strange to think that one week before I had seen him in "Diamonds"). I also especially liked Kader Belarbi and Clairemarie Osta in the dark "Kitchen" pas de deux, the march of the vacuum cleaners"

with Osta, Gillot, Romberg, Talon and Wiart

(it included some movements which looked a bit like Irish dancing, and I wondered if it was a kind of parody of shows like "Lord of the Dance"), and the final pas de deux by Nicolas Le Riche and Céline Talon. The whole cast, which also included Alessio Carbone, Wilfried Romoli, Mélanie Hurel and Hervé Courtain, was wonderful, dancing with a lot of energy and strength, and the audience was especially enthusiastic at the end.

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