Palais Garnier du 07 février au 02 mars 2024
Sadeh21, by Ohad Naharin, is a masterpiece of contemporary dance and its inclusion in the repertoire of The Paris Opera Ballet is an auspicious step in the ever-growing acceptance of new wave movement research and language development.
Naharin’s 21 movement studies are a fundamental part of his choreographic concept (Gaga) of the incorporation of natural movements in his movescape compositions.
The work starts on an austere stage already open to the public. Each movement study is presented in no particular order with no attempt at any extraneous explanation. The lack of explanation or plot development places the accent one hundred percent on the execution of the moves, for these are not steps or composition modules, rather they are movement language linguistic syntactical components being presented for the viewer’s predilection, permitting future recognition.
Naharin is clever for his story or meaning emerges from the fermentation of the movement studies: without warning the meaning takes shape through the combination of the movements into patterns and recognizable social and human gestures engendering a natural epiphany of collective recognition.
Naharin using the pseudonym: Maxim Waratt, has granularized the multiplicity of the musical extracts into an evocative soundscape, permitting the development of his movescape in a logical manner. The result artistically has a powerful emotional impact: interlacing silence and sound allowing the movements to give full voice to their meaning. The overall concept contributes to the concept of a time sharing of equals: sound and movement each contributing to a holistic ephemeral creation.
Avi Yona Bueno (Bambi) has created an excellent lighting design for the movescape, while obeying the cardinal rule: dance is made to be seen!
Ariel Cohen has kept costumes to a minimum, permitting the dancers to exercise a full range of virtuosic body movements.
A bravo to the entire cast of marvelous dancers:
Naïs Duboscq, Clémence Gross, Caroline Osmont, Ida Viikinkoski, Victoire Anquetil, Juliette Hilaire, Laurène Levy, Apolline Anquetil, Adèle Belem, Lucie Devignes, Lillian Di Piazza, Eugénie Drion, Marion Gautier de Charnacé, Seohoo Yun, Axel Ibot, Yvon Demol, Aurélien Gay, Mickaël Lafon, Hugo Vigliotti, Milo Avêque, Takeru Coste, Max Darlington, Jérémie Devilder, Théo Ghilbert, Julien Guillemard, Loup Marcault-Derouard, Antonin Monié, Marius Rubio.
LIEU - Palais Garnier du 07 février au 02 mars 2024
Review by: Patrick Kevin O'Hara
Date line: Tuesday the 20th of February, 2024
TDV-SARAH BERNHARDT - LA COUPOLE
31 JANV.04 FÉVR. 2024
Ruth Childs is a profound dance artist, and her latest creation “fantasia” is a sumptuous solo movement ode that assures her place in the Pantheon of contemporary and modern dance choreographers. In ancient Greece, the dancers were the orchestra that set the meter for the music and the enunciation of the poetry that enshrined the cathartic epiphany of Greek theater.
Childs is living proof that the dancer is the music of life in its purest form.
Let not this eulogy hide the fact that Childs is no prudish vestal virgin dancing about for the predilection of an admiring few, rather she is a Dionysian goddess ready to shock casting aside all coyness in the celebration of the body beautiful of which she is a consummate exaltation.
The costumes of Cécile Delanoë are well designed and complement Childs’ movescape perfectly permitting the fullness of Childs’ expansive movement vocabulary, which pays tribute to her predecessors and contemporaries in creation.
Lighting by Joana Oliveira is excellent and obeys the sacred rule that dance is made to be seen and not to be squished by undue shadows and unwarranted darkness.
The soundscape by Stéphane Vecchione / is totally synchronous with Childs’ choreographic language delightfully fulfilling its least movement whimsy to its most demanding sonic demands.
Childs finishes her work with a total demonstration of her superb physical condition: executing stupendous leaps and bounds, interspersed with dervish spins and incandescent swirls of sweeping gestures, interspliced by minimalist gesticulations. Reaching an exhausting climax of complete exaltation before a euphoric public acclamation.
Bravos to all concerned!
LIEU - TDV-SARAH BERNHARDT - LA COUPOLE 31 JANV.04 FÉVR. 2024
Date line: Thursday the 1st of February, 2024
du 08 au 31 décembre 2023
Stepping Stones - Jiri Kylian - Photo: Icare
A retrospective of four of Jiri Kylian’s works: Gods and Dogs, Stepping Stones, Petite Mort, and Sechs Tänze, closed the 2023 season of the Paris Opera Ballet at the Palais Garnier. The works presented date from Kylian’s periods of creation with the Nederlands Dans Theater, and the Stuttgart Ballet from 1991 to 2008.
The result resembled an Irish wake, wherein the assembled guests gathered around the dearly departed, some singing praises whilst others seemed more interested in snapping selfies and sipping champagne then doting on the deceased.
The first two works on the program: Gods and Dogs, and Stepping Stones, seemed interesting at first, then rapidly degenerated into mishappened mistakes of Kylian’s fertile imagination, desecrating the music of Ludwig van Beethoven along the way, while scarcely avoiding belittling the masterworks of John Cage and Anton Webern. Neither of the two ballets merit more than a passing glance.
Kylian began his choreographic work under the tutorship of Zora Šemberová at the Prague Conservatory and at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague in 1962, then with John Cranko at the Stuttgart Ballet in 1968, reaching his full creative maturity during his Artistic Directorship at the Nederlands Dans Theater in 1976.
The problem is not with the quality of the dancers, nor the interpretation of the works, both superb, but rather the apparent vacuity of the works. His work suffers from the current malaise pervading much of the contemporary dance repertoire that is to say in the words of the immortal bard “Much Ado About Nothing.”
Kylian is clever, and displays a spiteful humor, best encapsuled in Sechs Tânze, and Petite Mort, both resplendently embroidered with slapstick and silly escapades, danced to the marvelous music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. They were first performed on August 23rd, 1991, by the Nederlands Dans Theater 1, at the Kleines Festspielhaus Salzburger Festspiele. These two works are light and fluffy and need no footnotes to explain their existence, simply playful fun, full of eye candy, with set and lighting design by Kylian. Costumes for Petite Mort by Joke Visser, and for Sechs Tânze by Kylian. Each of the aforementioned having entered the repertoire of the Paris Opera Ballet on December the 8th, 2023, along with Gods and Dogs.
Little more to be said for a disappointing finale to the dance scene at the Palais Garnier. Hopefully, we shall see better examples of Kylian’s work in the future.
Date line: Monday the 25th of December, 2023
Théâtre Libre - Jean-Marc Dumontet
Du 14 décembre 2023 au 4 février 2024 – Du mercredi au samedi à 19h, les dimanches à 16h ou 19h
Après TUTU... CAR/MEN
Philippe Lafeuille has created an existential marvel with his current creation CAR / MEN, wherein all is possible: Singing Bel canto while being carried upside down, dancing Flamenco high on a platform balanced on the adoring hands of adulators, trans gender characterizations flashing throughout virtuoso performances by the ten magnificent male artists;
Dancers: Antoine Audras, François Auger, Antonin «Tonbee» Cattaruzza, Phanuel Erdmann, Jordan Kindell, Samir M’Kirech, Jean-Baptiste Plumeau, and Stéphane Vitrano, Singers, Antonio Macipe alternating with Rémi Torrado, all is there for the predilection of the viewers.
The video creations by Do Brunet blend perfectly with the costumes of Corinne Petitpierre, and the soundscape realized by Antisten is everything one could wish in an ongoing salute to Bizet’s immortal Operatic saga Carmen, based on the novella by Prosper Mérimée, of a hardworking cigarette girl, eulogizing feminist liberation.
Lafeuille is not afraid to interpolate excerpts from Don Quixote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa to the music of Ludwig Minkus in his rejuvenated version of Bizet’s work.
What elevates Lafeuille’s work beyond a mere transvestite farce is his admirable search and contributions to a universal choreographic language, which is uniquely adapted to the expression of eternal human values, and deep emotions not mutually exclusive beyond the range of other art forms, yet complementary.
Especial mention must go to Macipe’s marvelous singing, in the role of Carmen, wherein he displays an exception range of different timbers and emotional nuances in his characterization of our eponymous heroine.
The dancers are truly fabulous in their technical range and mastery of Lafeuille’s vast repertoire of different choreographic styles, alternating from classic, acrobatic, hip-hop, break dancing, and beyond:
Bravo, Brava, Bravi, and Brave for all!
Not to be missed! A must see!
LIEU - Théâtre Libre - Jean-Marc Dumontet
Date line: Thursday the 14th of December, 2023
WORKING TITLE, FOR MG : THE MOVIE
Trisha Brown Dance Company
Festival d'Automne à Paris - 7 - 9 décembre
MAC MAISON DES ARTS CRETEIL - En coréalisation avec le Festival d'Automne à Paris
TRISHA BROWN DANCE COMPANY
The Trisha Brown Dance Company is a shining light in the world of contemporary dance. Accompanied by the work of Noé Soulier, Brown’s company explores the limit of sculptured motion, non-gravity bound, yet with an affinity for sublime floor work.
The program at the Maison des Arts de Créteil on December the 7th, 2023, consisted of three works, one by Soulier and two by Brown.
First work on the program, In the Fall (2023) by Soulier, shows the influences of Brown’s work on her choreographic conception and leitmotifs. Casting aside the simplicity of the geometric rigidities of classical ballet, Soulier immerses her opus in complex structural interactions laced with pleasing counterbalances, performed with suppleness and grace by the dancers: Christian Allen, Cecily Campbell, Burr Johnson, Lindsey Jones, Catherine Kirk, Patrick Needham, Jennifer Payan, and Spencer Weidie.
Music by Florian Hecker is a monaural concrete sound scape reflecting influences stemming from the work of Pierre Schaeffer's groundbreaking work from the late 1940s in France. Bordering on the limits of a simple ground, Hecker’s synthetic overlays and modulations supply a contrasting otherworldliness complementing Soulier’s structural sparseness.
Lighting by Victor Burel and Costumes by Kaye Voyce round out the work, reflecting the simplicity of the concept without undue fussiness or distractions from Soulier’s concepts.
The rest of the evening is dominated by Brown’s work: first, Working Title (1985) blasts into a surrealist world of abstract choreographic drippings worthy of Jackson Pollock at his wildest emoting.
Backed by The Peter Zummo Orchestra emanating from a monoaural sound source, Brown’s dancers develop her innovative movescape, providing a visual kaleidoscope of off-balance moves of a rare beauty.
Costumes by Elizabeth Cannon and Lighting by Beverly Emmons round out the work with a pleasing sparseness, allowing full focus on the choreographic development of Brown’s wonder world.
For M.G.: The Movie (1991), a tribute to Michel Guy, founder of the Festival d’Automne, the third work on the program, shows the full spiritual growth of Brown’s creative development.
Brown created the Costumes and Décor for the work, with lighting binomed by Spencer Brown, and music by Alvin Curran.
In this work Brown shows the full force of her break with classical dance’s formalism and geocentric tendencies, and presents the concept of forces sculpting motion images, imprinting their effects on our emotional reactions to her opus: eliciting gut level epiphanies true to her intent.
The evening’s work shows Brown’s appreciation for the support given to her by France and the audience reaction of a wholehearted Thank you, was truly merited!
LIEU - GRANDE SALLE MAISON DES ARTS DE CRETEIL
Date line: Thursday the 7th, of Decembre, 2023
New Report on Giving Birth • Création
LES ABBESSES - du 22 novembre au 25 novembre 2023
Report on Giving Birth Photo: Ling Youjuan
Wen Hui is a young choreographer, a mere sixty-three years of age, whose creation the New Report on Giving Birth touches on questions near and dear to all concerned with the state of the human race, and the chances of our survival in the conceivable present and future.
Hui dances with three fellow dancing thespians: Alessandra Corti, Patscharaporn Distakul, and Parvin Saljoughi, in a multimedia, polyglot; Chinese, Italian, Persian, Thai, and English, subtitled in French creation centered on the theme of giving birth.
The work is a product of the Living Dance Studio: which claims to be the first independent artistic Chinese company, cofounded by Hui in 1994, focuses on dance, theater, and all forms of theater; presented Report on Giving Birth in 1999 in Belgium, gaining immediate international recognition.
The work has not aged since its introduction, outside the middle kingdom, to the world, and continues to be relevant.
Each artist presents their subjective experiences, and views on the central subject, reinforced by visuals and sounds building a tension, and at times deep visceral chords, in the receptors of their artistry.
Music by Matthias Engelke: creates an atmosphere appropriate to Hui’s concept, without overpowering the delicate texture of Hui’s choreography, which touches on minimalism, contrasted with explosive outbursts of wildly gesticulated orations, by the dance artists expounding on their personal feelings related to birthing.
Lighting by Matthias Rieker is subtle yet strong enough not to obscure relevant action through inappropriate darkness, which is not always easy with multimedia creations, with their competing demands by the different media.
The video by Rémi Crépeau is enhanced by cleaver positioning on different constantly changing surfaces and objects.
The result of the total theater approach by Hui and her collaborators is a satisfying, powerful, and personal yet universal appraisal of the question of controlled and voluntary childbirth.
The final tableau is one of a soft, gentle harmony of reconciliation by the protagonists, surrounded by an outside darkness, leaving them as a shining beacon to the world.
LIEU - Théâtre de la Ville - Les Abbesses
Date line: Friday the 24th of November, 2023
Du 17 novembre au 10 décembre 2023 – Du mercredi au dimanche à 19h
TUTU Photo Sandro Oliveira
Anyone who asks the questions: “Can men dance on point?” or “Should men dance?” must go to see TUTU by the company CHICOS MAMBO at the Théâtre Libre to find the answers to the aforesaid questions!
Presently there: at the Théâtre Libre on stage in real life are six superb men dancing up a storm to well-deserved applause!
The next question is: “Are the dancers of CHICOS MAMBO up to the standards set by their innovative ancestor?”: Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo; co-founded by Peter Anastos, Natch Taylor, and Anthony Bassae in 1974.
The artistic director and choreographer of the CHICO MAMBO company, PHILIPPE LAFEUILLE created the company in 1994 in Barcelona, and the answer to the previous question is surmounted in his work.
Lafeuille is not relying on the formula set by his predecessors: of an all-male drag ballet troupe that parodies the conventions of romantic and classical ballet, danced by dancers performing in travesty, roles usually reserved for females, while wearing tutus and dancing en pointe, rather he is seeking a universal language of movement.
The dancers of TUTU: Marc Behra, David Guasgua M, Kamil Pawel Jasinski, Julien Mercier, Vincent Simon, and Vincenzo Veneruso are superlative technicians. Not restricted to traditional dance forms they are exploring the vast worlds: of voice, gymnastics, and mime linked to humor.
Perhaps a bit of nit picking can be interjected by asking for some pathos or more profound questions concerning our present world crisis.
However, beyond that mild nod to the contemporary dance scene, the theatricality of Lafeuille’s present creation is without doubt enjoyable.
A must see!
Date line: Wednesday the 22nd of November, 2023
Carolyn Carlson -CROSSROADS TO SYNCHRONICITY
Du 15 novembre au 3 décembre 2023 – du mercredi au samedi à 21h et le dimanche à 16h
Crossroads to Synchronicity
CROSSROADS TO SYNCHRONICITY, an overhaul of “Synchronicity” from 2012, an intense introspective dance piece by Carolyn Carlson , was resurrected at the Théâtre Libre on Wednesday the 15th of November 2023.
The result suffers intensely from lighting by Rémi Nicolas, assisted by Guillaume Bonneau that obscures the intent, meaning, and physical presence of the dancers, and renders the scenography exceedingly difficult to follow.
Dance is an art form made to be seen! Carlson has let her work derivate into the netherworld wedded to many of the works of contemporary dance artists. She is not alone in letting lighting designers take control of the conceptual process of the construction of choreographic media.
Carlson’s work is mired in a semiotic nightmare. Chairs, doors, wheels, a washing tub, a long table, plates, all with some allegorical meaning, clutter the stage and restrict the flow of the dance.
The patchwork examination of events transversing a lifetime, performed superlatively by the six dancers in the work, reveals an extremely ugly misogynistic treatment of women.
If this is a reconstruction of events in the creator’s life, then one must commiserate with her.
Throughout the work there is an overriding religiosity: finalized in a miniaturized recreation of Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, a foreshadowing of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. In Carlson’s version, rather than thirteen individuals, there are six: if one takes the semiotic mumbo jumbo to its logical relevance; counting six dancers, six plates, and six chairs, the result is 666 signifying the great beast and the sacrificial lamb is a female dancer crucified on a mysterious door.
The work is definably not Carlson at her best and can be accepted as a work in progress, to be seen perhaps in a better light at some time in the future.
Date line: Wednesday the 15th of November, 2023
from anguish to reality
Palais Garnier - du 24 octobre au 10 novembre 2023
Amandine Albisson - Audric Bezard - IN THE NIGHT Photo: Svetlanna Loboff
The Pais Opera Ballet opened its second program of the 23/24 season with an all-Jerome Robbins program, which provides interesting insights into the personality and psyche of the multifaceted choreographer’s career.
The first ballet EN SOL,Video originally known as Concerto in G, choreographed by Robbins to Maurice Ravel's Piano Concerto in G Major, features a cast of fourteen dancers lead by Hannah O'Neill and Hugo Marchand, who dance the roles created for Suzanne Farrell and Peter Martins in the New York City Ballet's Ravel Festival, which celebrated the centenary of Ravel, and premiered on May 15, 1975, at the New York State Theater.
En-Sol - Germain-Louvet-et-I-Mcintosh--A-Philbert--C-Mousseigne--C-Drouy--H-Pajtler--B-Scudamore Photo: Svetlana Loboff
O’Neill and Marchand, in the central pas de deux to Ravel’s jazzy score, evoke a lyrical atmosphere, each tracing hesitant steps towards and away from each other, capped by exultant lifts fulfilling their union.
The choreography is lighthearted and fluffy, at times Robbins seems to be reaching for Broadway style cliches aimed at familiar not too deep obvious solutions, without profundity or dramatic effects, to the couples attempts at intimate reproachments.
IN THE NIGHT,Video created on January 29th, 1970, by the New York City Ballet, the second ballet on the program, delves further into the emotional obstructions in Robbin’s work. Set to the music of four nocturnes by Frédéric Chopin, Robbins explores the emotion relations between three of couples, each in a pas de deux, depicting divergent phases of their relationships. The final pas de deux, danced by Amandine Albisson and Audric Bezard is perhaps the most revealing of Robbin’s deep emotional inability to reach a resolution to his own demons. In this pas de deux, the woman falls to the feet of the man as if begging forgiveness before being swept up into the arms of the man and carried off stage.
IN-THE-NIGHT - Sae Eun Park - Paul Marque Photo: Svetlana Loboff
Balanchine could not stand this abasement of a woman, yet there rests the question of forgiveness.
Robbins often asked friends if they had forgiven him for giving names to the House Un-American Activities Committee before Senator McCarthy on May 5th, 1953. The tragedy of his testimony was that he provided names out of fear of being exposed as a gay man.
In his unpublished journal he confided,“It was my homosexuality I was afraid would be exposed.”
Robbins used everyday events and situations in his work and the leitmotif, of the need for forgiveness, returns repeatedly in his career. This fragility can be felt throughout his creativity wherein the process within and without the work itself would manifest itself by the repeated metaphoric question, “Am I still in the box?”
(He asked his friend Arthur Laurents if he was still in his cigar box of rejects).
THE CONCERT,Video created on March 6th, 1956, by the New York City Ballet, again with music by Chopin, finished the evening’s program. In this ballet Robbins goes all out to amuse and charm his beloved public. The theme is a comic spoof of a classical music concert and the audiences reactions to the venue, the music, and their own wandering reflections. In this ballet, Robbins avoids all serious thoughts in a seeming all out effort to distance himself and his beloveds from posing any serious existential questions of fidelity and forgiveness.
THE-CONCERT -Heloise-Bourdon-Arthus-Raveau Photo: Svetlana Loboff
Throughout the program’s three ballets the lighting by Jennifer Tipton is brilliant and is the epitome of how a ballet should be lit, and that is to say, “to be seen and not obscured!”
Robbins needs not to seek any forgiveness; his genius is enough to atone for his forced transgressions.
En-Sol - Germain-Louvet-et-I-Mcintosh--A-Philbert--C-Mousseigne--C-Drouy--H-Pajtler--B-Scudamore Photo: Svetlana Loboff
IN-THE-NIGHT - Sae Eun Park - Paul Marque Photo: Svetlana Loboff
THE-CONCERT -Heloise-Bourdon-Arthus-Raveau Photo: Svetlana Loboff
Date line: Tuesday the 24th of October, 2023
Xie Xin / Marion Motin / Crystal Pite
Palais Garnier - du 23 septembre au 12 octobre 2023
The Seasons - Canon - Photo Agathe Poupeney
Three choreographers presented their work at the Paris Opera Ballet: thus, opening the 2023 – 2024 dance season at Palais Garnier in the heart of Paris.
The results were disparate, with two desultory disasters out of the three works on the program.
First on the program: THE LAST CALL by Marion Motin Video is an aimless stroll down obscurity lane. Claiming authorship of choreography, set design and lighting: Motin should be congratulated for assuming full responsibility for the resulting repetitive obscurantism.
Motin’s choreography is of the copy paste category, wherein everybody follows the copy me style of looking in the mirror without any regard for meaningful staging.
The set design serves no other function then: Wow! aren’t I clever: without any attempt to clarify the why of the work, other than a mysterious phone call, perhaps from the dead, which would explain the “Walking Dead” style of movement.
The mindless applause at the end of the weary event, lends credence to the possibility that the paid clack has been reinstated at the Palais Garnier.
Second: HORIZON by Xie Xin, Video also a creation for the Paris Opera Ballet, as was the first on the evening’s program, fares no better than the lack luster opening work.
Lighting by Gao Jie again repeats the gross error of the first work of rendering the dance almost impossible to see! Dance is made to be seen, not draped in inappropriate darkness that does nothing for the meaning or effectiveness of the dancer’s work.
The music for both works compositions by Micka Luna for the first and Sylvian Wang for the second can be gratefully forgotten with no loss to a good night’s sleep.
Finally: the dreary evening is saved by a scintillating ballet by Crystal Pite: THE SEASONS’ CANON, created for the Paris Opera Ballet on September 26, 2016.
A marvelous score by Max Richter of his recomposition of Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, 2012, complements Pite’s work perfectly.
Lighting design by Tom Visser is sublime, bringing out the beauty of the dancer’s bodies and movements. Visser uses lighting as prompter would: reminding and underlining the meaning and intent of the creator, subtly yet clearly, a true complement artistically.
The triumph of the gala was and is the marvelous dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet! Individually and collectively shining with the world’s best, giving a breathtaking finish to an uneven evening’s entertainment.
Hopefully, Motin and Xin will profit from their experience working with the company and will be able to progress in their respective stage crafts.
Date line: Tuesday the 3rd of October, 2023
L'Histoire de Manon
Palais Garnier - from 20 June to 15 July 2023
Kenneth MacMillan’s ballet, Manon, is a wonderful adaptation of the celebrated novel: The Story of the Chevalier des Grieux and Manon Lescaut by Antoine François Prévost, published in 1731.
Prévost’s story, thinly disguised as a cautionary tale, of the dangers of institutionalized prostitution menacing the sacred institution of marriage, provided the framework upon which MacMillan could create a monument to the art of the romantic ballet. The raison d’être of all romantic ballets is the pas de deux, a form in which MacMillan excelled.
The present production of MacMillan’s chef oeuvre, at the Palais Garnier by the Ballet of the Paris Opera, is a faithful restaging of his creation, whose premiere was given on the 7th of March 1974, by the Royal Ballet of London, Covent Garden, with the legendary dancers: Antoninette Sibley, Anthony Dowell, David Wall, and Monica Mason starring in the cast.
Sibley’s Manon, danced by Léonore Baulac, and Dowell’s Des Grieux, danced by Mathias Heymann, both étoiles of the Opera Ballet, delightfully fulfilled MacMillan’s romantic inclinations.
Although France is a secular republic, the dancers of the Paris Opera are trained and raised in the hothouse aristocratic traditions of The Académie Royale de Danse: the first dance institution established in the Western world, founded by Letters Patent, on the initiative of King Louis XIV of France in March 1661. These traditions enable the dancers to perform the manners and gestures of the aristocratic milieu and decadent tendencies predominant in MacMillan’s creation.
To propel the action, MacMillan’s adaptation of Abbé Prévost’s novel, takes liberties with the characters of the original, bringing forth the personage of Manon’s brother, Lescaut, danced by Antoine Kirscher, who brings tragedy to the fate of Manon, by attempting to cheat her benefactor Monsieur de G.M., interpreted by Cyril Chokroun, at cards, resulting in his death, and her subsequent exile, for prostitution, to New Orleans.
Manon’s arrival in New Orleans, followed by her besotted lover, Des Grieux, and their flight from justice, caused by Des Grieux’s murder of Manon’s jailer, Arthus Raveau, leads to the finale denouement, and an ultimate elegy to the art of ballet: the pas de deux of Manon and Des Grieux on a bare stage, with only their love and MacMillan’s genius to clothe the tragic end of Manon Lescaut.
The pas de deux - video
Bravo to all concerned. A must see!
Date line: Tuesday the 27th of June, 2023
PEEPING TOM – TRIPTYCH:
THE MISSING DOOR, THE LOST ROOM, THE HIDDEN FLOOR
The Missing Door The Lost Room
Triptych: a set of three associated artistic, literary, or musical works intended to be appreciated together, e.g., "a triptych on the theme of the holocaust". On the theme of a disaster would be more appropriate with regard to the recent presentation of Peeping Tom’s, Triptych (trilogy) at the Palais Garnier by the Paris Opera Ballet.
Dance is an art made to be seen not obscured by inappropriate lighting on a miss dimensioned stage within a stage. Shakespeare, Chaucer, Matthew Bourne, to mention a few, have all used the artifice of a stage within a stage, with successful comic effects. In Triptych, the Palais Garnier’s magnificent stage is vivisected by an irregular oblique rectangular squashed mini stage, within which superb dancers are cruelly misused.
Gabriela Carrizo’s The Missing Door opens the trilogy with the interpretation of the phantasmic unreality of a man’s last moments between life and death. A superb idea for dance, which is ruined by lighting that renders the dancers almost invisible in the cramped quarters of the tiny stage.
Franck Chartier’s The Lost Room follows with a sinking ship with terpsichorean daredevils thrashing about in a multidimensional labyrinth, dancers again lost in an unlit obscurity.
The Hidden Floor (Frank Chartier, 2017) finishes the triptych with a shipwreck, graced by debauched pyromaniacs, splashing about performing bone crushing slams on a water drenched stage resembling a stunt person’ worst nightmares.
The Hidden Floor
The whole mess is not due to a lack of amazing dancers, nor promising ideas, it is due to inadequate lighting, forethought, and adaptation to the demands of the dimensions of Palais Garnier stage.
This not the first time that the marvelous Paris Opera Ballet has been cast adrift by ill connived attempts at contemporizing its repertoire. One can only plead: “Is there an artistic director aboard?”!
The Hidden Floor
Date line: Thursday the 8th of June, 2023
THE DANTE PROJECT
Simply put, a project is a series of tasks that need to be completed to reach a specific outcome: Wayne McGregor’s THE DANTE PROJECT can be seen as a work in progress and as such it could benefit from a serious rethinking of its objectives in view of the results presented at the Palais Garnier on its debut performance. The program descriptions of what the dancing is purported to be representing and what actually is seen is vastly different from reality. It is a toss-up between a Rorschach test and the Emperor’s New Clothes.
The ballet is constructed in three acts: Act 1; five scenes, Acts 2 and 3 one episode each. The first act opens with almost total obscurity masking the dancers in smoke and darkness, making it difficult to discern the choreographer’s work. Without the program notes it would be a miracle to understand what the dancing is supposed to represent. This is the main problem with McGregor’s ambitious project.
Throughout the ballet the program references are strewn with allusions to Dante’s work and principle characters, from Dante, Virgil, Beatrice, Ulysses, Satan, the adulterous lovers Paolo and Francesca, the tragic lovers Dido and Aeneas and important passages representing Hell, Purgatory, and the Afterlife. Dance is well suited to emotions and poetic images but is ill adapted to abstract relationships such as: this is my brother in laws niece by his second marriage. Aside from the difficulty of delineating Dante’s work in dance there is the problem of McGregor’s choreographic vocabulary running out of steam, where he tends to throw in some turns to express ideas and emotions.
At best throw away the program notes and enjoy the wonderful dancing and the sublime choreography of McGregor illustrating the marvelous symphonic efforts of Thomas Adés music.
McGregor’s work shines best at the end of act one with the dance of Dante and The Thieves where he lets out all stops and showers the stage the blinding fireworks of the male dancers going for broke in the best display of virtuoso male polytechnic dancing since Cranko’s work to Stravinsky.
Date line: Wednesday the 3rd of April, 2023
Maurice Béjart Revisited
It is interesting to have the experience of witnessing the canonization and defanging of an old friend who loved to shock the world with his daring iconoclastic creations. The presentation of Maurice Béjart’s work at the Opéra Bastille recently is a case in example.
The first ballet on the program was Firebird. Gone was the bemusement of seeing a man dance the role of the Firebird, created originally for Tamara Karsavina by Michel Fokine in 1910 for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russe. Béjart’s creative innovation in 1970, enshrined Michaël Denard in the role of the Firebird, and was invigored by costumes resembling Chinese revolutionaries in a supporting cast of partisans, which shocked the public in America. Béjart’s use of the idea of the Firebird being resituated by the Phoenix thus carrying on the flame of eternal revolution smacked of Trotskyite leanings.
The second work, Songs of a Wayfarer was inspired by a series of melodies for baritone and orchestra by Gustav Mahler (« Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen »). Béjart imagined a duo in four sequences, bringing together his best classical dancer, Paolo Bortoluzzi and Rudolf Nureyev. The choreographer commented, « He is a wayfarer like the young apprentices of the Middle Ages, who went from town to town in search of their destiny and their master. The ballet provoked controversy at its inception by the novelty of a male pas de deux, today no longer shocking.
Bolero closed the evening’s performance. Béjart’s proclivity of putting the male dancer first, and foremost was cemented by this ballet, which was originally commissioned by Ida Rubinstein, and premiered at the Paris Opéra on 22 November 1928, with choreography by Bronislava Nijinska and designs and scenario by Alexandre Benois. Rather than having a female dance on a tavern table as in Benois’s conception, “Inside a tavern in Spain, people dance beneath the brass lamp hung from the ceiling. [In response] to the cheers to join in, the female dancer has leapt onto the long table and her steps become more, and more animated.” Béjart’s 1961 creation placed Jorge Donn smack in the middle of a round table surrounded by male dancers undulating sensuously to the insistent main theme adapted from a melody composed for and used in Sufi training. Practitioners of Sufism are referred to as "Sufis" (from صُوفِيّ, ṣūfīy), and historically typically belonged to "orders" known as tariqa (pl. ṭuruq) – congregations formed around a grand wali who would be the last in a chain of successive teachers linking back to Muhammad, with the goal of undergoing Tazkiah (self-purification) and the hope of reaching Ihsan.
The revolutionary, religious and gender aspects that were controversial in Béjart’s work have been long lost or forgotten by today’s audience who applauded with almost mindless enthusiasm the evening’s three offerings.
It is regrettable, but all for the better that Béjart’s work is merely well danced and presented for its entertainment value in this banalized world consumerism.
Date line: Friday, 28th, April, 2023
École de Danse Soirée exceptionnelle en l’honneur de Claude Bessy
The Soirée exceptionnelle Claude Bessy at the Palais Garnier: danced by the students from the School of the Paris Opera Ballet, honoring the former dancer étoile, and director of the École de Danse de l'Opéra national de Paris, was an ode to a living legend in dance in France. The evening embraced her career in dance: from her first infatuation with ballet, through to her present eminence in the pantheon of dance, via a film and excerpts from ballets tracing her contributions to the sacred art and was a pleasure for all concerned.
The evening commenced with SUITE EN BLANC: choreography by Serge Lifar, music by Edouard Lalo; it was danced with elegance and aplomb by the dancers, faithful to the spirit of the seminal force of Lifar, who was responsible for the resurrection of the grand traditions of classical dance at the Opera in the difficult year of 1946.
Followed by the film, CLAUDE BESSY, LIGNE D’UNE VIE by Fabrice Herrault, relating in images and film clips important episodes and influences in Bessy’s life and career.
John Neumeier’s YONDERING, music by Stephen Collins Foster based on popular songs from the American West (1844-1964), beautifully sung by baritone Thomas Hampson, was interpreted delightfully by the dancers, in particular BEAUTIFUL DREAMER was a jewel, danced by Maëlys Chiorozas, Paul Mayeras, and Micah Levine. The ballet originally mounted on the National Ballet School in Toronto, Canada, entered the repertoire of the Paris Opera Ballet School on March 20th, 1999, and is a marvelous example of Bessy’s innovative policy of developing the real performance skills of the school’s students. The ballet closed the first half of the evening with a lusty rendition of THAT’S WHAT’S THE MATTER performed with zest and dash by the ever-stalwart dancers of the school.
The second half opened with Maurice Béjart’s M POUR B, which was added to the Paris Opera Ballet School repertoire on May 16, 1991, music Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, featuring a lovely violin interpretation by Karin Ato. Danced with sensitivity and grace, in particular the interpretation by Lisa Petit, bore witness to the useful and a priory necessity for the development of the student’s artistic career through live performances before a discriminating audience.
The evening closed with Claude Bessy’s CONCERTO IN RE, music by Johann Sebastian Bach, piano interpretation by Ellina Akimova, with full orchestra, led by Christian Vàsquez. Created by the students on May 25, 1977, at the Salle Favart (Opera Comique), this ballet demonstrated the wisdom of Bessy’s accent on the process of endowing the students with the immortal traditions of classical dance through active performance and participation in the creative act. Strongly influenced by Lifar’s leitmotifs the ballet is a masterpiece for the aspiring thespians and is well adapted to their needs and levels.
Claude Bessy was on stage at the end, surrounded by the full cast of enthusiastic dancers, complemented by the presence of Élisabeth Platel, the current director of the school. The audience expressed their appreciation with well-deserved applause and full-throated Bravos.
Date line: Wednesday, 19th, April, 2023
LES AILES DU DÉSIR
Bruno Bouché - Ballet de l'Opéra National du Rhin
Les Ailes du Désir Photo: A. Poupeney
The Ballet Les Ailes du désir, choreographed by Bruno Bouché presented at the Châtelet with the Ballet de L’Opéra du Rhin, is a masterpiece! Inspired by the film of the same name by Wim Wenders: the ballet takes place in a world of guardian angels and mortals. The guardian angels, benevolent and invisible, dressed in trench coats, listen to the thoughts of mortals, and try to comfort them. One of the angels, Damiel, danced by Marwik Schmitt, wishes to become a human after falling in love with the beautiful trapeze artist, Marion, danced by Julia Weiss. Peter Falk, danced by Marin Delavaud, helps him during his transformation, by introducing him to the small pleasures of life. The action takes place in two acts: Act one, divided in a preamble, and six scenes, transpires from the point of view of the angels, who see all things in terms of black and white; Act two, in three scenes, when Damiel becomes human, is revealed to him in dazzling colors. Damiel leaves behind him his old friend, Cassiel, danced by Alain Trividic, who continues to be accompanied by Homer, danced by Pierre Doncq, the storyteller of humanity.
Bouché takes this relatively simple story line and transforms it into a transcendental journey through the medium of dance, revealing the complexities of human and immortals existence.
Act one being in black and white: is somber and the choreography has feeling of heaviness, whereas Act two explodes in an amazing display of elevation and pyrotechnical virtuosity on the part of the dancers. Bouché shows a deft hand in his construction of ensembles and a divine capacity of transforming humans into flying and intertwining angels. To see his work and this company is to be transported into a pure dance heaven.
Costumes by Thibault Welchlin are well done and in keeping with the spirit of the authors intentions. Lighting by David Debrinay faithfully expediates the theme of heaven and earth. Video by Etienne Guiol is striking and thought provoking.
A special bravo to Bruno Anguera Garcia for his sensitive rendering of the piano interpretation of Jean-Sébastien Bach’s Sonata n°2.
A must see!
Date line: Thursday, March 30th, 2023
Pit: Bobbi Jene Smith et Or Schraiber
Pit - Héloise Jocqueviel - Mickaêl Lafon - Photo: Yonathan Kellerman
Pit, a work choreographed by Bobbi Jean Smith and Or Schraiber, is a ballet of unrelenting morosity: although intellectually interesting, it remains a theatrical monstrosity. Doctor Frankenstein created his monster from bits and pieces of cadavers: so have Smith and Schraiber constructed a hybrid piece, assembled from diverse intellectual and musical sources. The end result engenders sustained boredom, interspersed near the end with some glimpses of potential choreographic interest.
Despite, the use of the sublime Violin Concerto in D Minor, Opus 47 of Sibelius, and an intriguing sound scape by Celeste Oram: the work just doesn’t gel as a dance theatre piece.
Neither choreographer seems to be able to construct work for a group of dancers. At times there are flashes of virtuosity from individual dancers, and there are a few rare moments when physical contacts begin to reveal movements of an astonishing beauty and originality, only to be obliterated by some unwarranted gratuitous violence.
Dancers of the Paris Opera are marvelous, and they danced with dedication and perseverance, a pastiche of grotesque post-apocalyptic scrambling around: in the manner of dipsomaniacal cock roaches, possessed by spurts of inexplicable misandry; propelled by an unwarranted brutality, embroidered at times by lurid voyeuristic sex moves.
Some feeble unexplained attempts of misplaced humor: shooting plucked chickens out of the sky, or a red garmented lady turning to reveal a bare ass in her backless grown, then her prancing back and forth to no good effect; did nothing to relieve the intrinsic emptiness of the choreographer’s scenography.
The dumping of dirt from a wheel barrel onto the stage: leaving the dancers to scrabble about in an effort to recuperate a miserly bit of soil, in order to pay some mysterious debt, or forfeit to paradise is unnecessary: perhaps a tribute to Pina Bausch’s Rite of Spring?!
Near the end of the theatrical surplice, under the surveillance of a white coated warden, the dancers populate a grand elevated empty space, which remained empty for the larger part of the piece, with some movements of dance resembling festive folk dancing, only to be dispersed in a gradual petering out to an non-ending.
Date line: Wednesday, March 29th, 2023
Ayelen Parolin / RUDA SIMPLE
Ayelen Parolin - SIMPLE - Photo: François Declercq
Ayelen Parolin in her creation RUDA SIMPLE has developed a Dance Theatre of the Absurd, reminiscent of classical dance’s commedia dell’arte roots. Her work gives the impression of improvised performances: based on sketches or scenarios with well defined characters represented by three male dancers. The themes are all developed in silence, punctuated by rhythms and sounds produced by the characters. Parolin picks up where Le Théâtre du Silence, created in 1972 by Jacques Garnier and Brigitte Lefèvre, leaves off, yet posing the same question: how to lay the foundations for new technics using the achievements of the past.
The silence sets the mood: the first personage enters, in front of a garish multi-colored backdrop, wearing a matching multi-colored, long sleeved leotard, an everyman, hesitant, tall, gangly, barefooted, shuffling cross stage. Parolin has chosen a cross-section of different somatic types. This one looks lost! Silence hangs heavily, almost crushing each movement in indifference. As everyman attempts different movements, each less pleasing for him, he is joined by a more assured smaller, mustached nondescript, ordinary individual, wearing a replica of our tall hero. Our newcomer has no greater ideas to offer, until a foot stamping Don Quixote arrives on an imaginary hobby horse! What a marvelous idea! Soon all three are riding around stamping one foot as a means of propulsion. Evident joy convulsing each ecstatic visage. A brave new world has been discovered. The nonsense continues: finally broken by a paroxysm of frenzied destruction shared by all three! Total devastation occupies the stage, deserted by our upon imus dancers, who return banging drums of celebration for the evident victory of anarchism over order.
The whole ballet is nonsense: yet further reflection engenders more profound allusions to our present everyday chaos, presided over by equally ridiculous buffed up individuals and movements, riding hobby horses, pointing to non-realizable nirvanas for all. Each resulting nihilist paradise is greeted with drum banging propaganda, vaunting the perfect solution.
Perhaps Parolin’s oeuvre is not such non-sense after all! Hers is a very welcome breath of fresh creative air: to be beathed and enjoyed by all!
A particular bravo to the three marvelous thespians: Baptiste Cazaux, Piet Defrancq, and Daan Jaartsveld!
Date line: Saturday, March 25th, 2023
MYSTERY SONATAS / FOR ROSA / Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker
Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker is a genius at deciphering through dance and music: for the cognoscenti and erudite, the arcane and obscure in the mysteries of the rosette. For others, and those who hadn’t performed their ablutions before participating in Keersmaeker’s loquacious oeuvre ( two hours and fifteen minutes), they are little comforted: in their humble attempts: to perceive meaning and movement, through a veritable looking glass darkly, the images struggling to be seen on a darkened stage; by a blasting break in the discourse, with the super amplified lyrics of the song: “I never promised you a rose garden”, thundering through the Châtelet theatre.
Hers is an irreducible choreography emanating from the creative recesses of a darkened quest to elucidate the unknowable. A ceaseless movescape dialogue, between the five musicians and seven dancers, transcends simple descriptive prose, therefore necessitating neologisms in the attempt to do a functional movement scan of the intent and meaning of Keersmaeker’s creation.
She uses The Rosary Sonatas by Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber, composed circa 1676, to cast her devotional in three cycles: five joyful mysteries, five sorrowful mysteries, and five glorious mysteries performed by her dancers.
Keersmaeker’s choreography: demands a transcendental virtuosity from the dancers, in their respective interpretations of her complex movescape, based on a deep mastery and understanding of the intricate geometrical and mathematical formulae traced on the stage, which are revealed in the third cycle sonatas. One example is when she uses a perfect Fibonacci sequence danced in reverse: to reveal the spiral patterns of sunflowers, daisies, broccoli, cauliflowers, and seashells. A true spiritual and choreographic tour de force.
Scenography and lighting by Minna Tllkkainen are superb although a little less darkness might help to reveal to advantage some of the dancer’s movements lost in the obscurity, perhaps intentional.!?
Bravos to Amandine Beyer and Gli Incogniti: magnificent interpretation!
Date line: Friday, March 24th, 2023
Marco da Silva Ferreira
It’s rare to be struck gaga at first sight: but this one is it! A Must see! The Marco da Silva Ferreira company of ten dancers electrify the stage with their completely committed dancing. These thespians hold nothing back in their involvement in today’s realities. Political? Yes! Emotional? Absolutely! Equal? More than! They perpetuate a total theatre of images, supported by vocals, music, and décor, with a new original choreographic language steeped in folkloric realities.
Sharp staccato percussive beats emitted from the drums of master musician, Joao Pais Filipe set the stage for the entrance of the dancers. The first impression is: Wow! The women have got real bodies: muscled, athletic, sculptured, in every way the equal of their male counterparts, plus being absolutely gorgeous, each is quite different from the other. No Kewpie doll, drooping lilies: these women are true originals. As are the male contingent of the company. Their true to everyday life look adheres to the naturalist aspect of their stage presence.
The dancing is solid, with the elevated level of technical excellence demanded by Ferreira’s choreography: a combination of folk, gymnastic, and original moves, which coalesce into a very down to earth original language adapted to his vision of reality. His choreography is a movescape of constantly evolving semiotic images, which require little or no effort to decipher: hard hitting anti-fascist statements, calling for the tearing down of all barriers and walls to a true equality: to be endowed in all inhabitants of this fragile universe that we all share.
Electronic music by Luis Pestana, lighting by Carin Geada, and costumes by Aleksandar, all add up to a unified whole well adapted to Ferreira’s vision of a brave new world.
The dancers all deserve mention for their integral cohesion to the objectives of the opus: André Garcia, Fabio Krayze, Leo Ramos, Marc Oliveras Casas, Marco da Siva Ferreira, Maria Antunes, Max Makowski, Mélanie Ferreira, Nelson Teunis, and Nala Revlon.
Date line: Thursday, March 17th, 2023
DANCE: Lucinda Childs, Philip Glass
DANCE: as performed at the Maison des Arts de Creteil, is an early Minimalist creation of Lucinda Childs. First performed in 1979 in collaboration with Philip Glass, composer, and Sol LeWitt, minimalist and conceptual artist. The present version of the work is a reconstructed creation using sixteen dancers of the Ballet de l’Opéra de Lyon.
Childs’ choreography uses an absolute minimum of a basic movement vocabulary, embellished with tiny, small, at times hardly perceptible variations or additions to the original lexicon. Repeated over and over again, from different angles, patterns, perspectives, and filmed complements projected on a screen in front of the dancers, the composition exercises a hypnotic effect, which may lead the unwary into a surrealistic continuum resulting in a potential state of utter boredom.
The work is considered to be a monument to the modern dance world: viewed in relation to the original, filmed by LeWitt, the present version has codified the original casualness of the performance quality into a strict neoclassic performance of ballet perfection. Gone is the optimistic dream of a brave new world of dance creation: what is seen here is a coddled museum piece, deserving to be preserved, well danced, bravely performed, which could be well served by the notice to the modern viewer; prepare yourself for a minimalist overdose!
Date line: Thursday, March 16th, 2023
BEHIND THE LIGHT Cristiana Morganti
Cristiana Morganti is a consummate artist: fluent in five languages, musician, dancer, choreographer, fashion model, actress, and singer. She employs all these attributes and more in her extravagant one woman show BEHIND THE LIGHT.
From the very beginning of her show, she castes an enchanting spell on her audience, establishing a co-conspiratorial intimacy with them, revealing the multitude of experiences that have shaped her artistic career. Despite her apparent openness, she guards an exceptional resistance regarding details of her personnel life. Outwardly, a flamboyant voluptuous Italian earth woman in the flower of her youthful age of fifty-five yet, during an open question answer session, when asked a personal question about her age by a member of the audience, she adroitly evades answering the question by changing the subject with a certain coyness.
Morganti displays the charm and pathos of Charlie Chaplin’s tramp: in her poignant miming to the music, of the Peasant Pas de Deux from Giselle, of a dancer resisting her mother’s demands to practice her exercises as a dancer. Nevertheless, when she dances it’s with grace and bravura, displaying an iridescent amalgam of classic and contemporary techniques perfectly adapted to her very personal style. She has an innate mastery of line, the hallmark of a true dancer, sculpting her moves and forms with a delicious spontaneity, a delight to the eye.
Her singing voice is powerful and seductive, providing a coloratura mezzo-soprano to her recitation of her career, comprising voice and movement illustrating in part, her twenty years with Pina Bausch. Morganti manages to resumé Bausch’s choreographic vocabulary with a few hilarious archetypical gestures. She flashes from mock to serious with the mere touch aa arm gesture, displaying her mastery of dance character.
Lighting by Laurent P. Berger, and Video by Connie Prantera perfectly complement her artistic intentions, adding fullness and depth to the production.
Hers is a not to miss show! A MUST SEE!
LIEU - Les Abbesses: 6 - 11 March, 2023
Date line: Monday, March 6th, 2023
BALLET Who Cares?
The George Balanchine program, at the Palais Garnier danced by the Ballet de l’Opéra national de Paris, opened with Ballet Imperial, created in 1941 by Balanchine for the American Ballet Caravan. The ballet had its premiere at the Teatro Municipal de Rio de Janeiro on June 25th, 1941 as part of the program to build cultural and financial relations in South America amid World War II, financed by the American government. Balanchine wanted to show that American dancers could perform classical ballet with brio, and that they did, led by the dancers: Marie-Jeanne, Gisella Caccialanza, William Dollar, Fred Danieli, and Nicholas Magallanes.
The dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet showed that they too were able to dance classical ballet, executing Ballet Imperial splendidly, with the elegance and aplomb for which they are famous.
The second ballet on the program was Who Cares? created by Balanchine for the New York City Ballet in 1970, and first presented at the New York State Theater on February 5th, 1970.
The two ballets show the creative growth of Balanchine from his initial efforts, at the age of 37, to show his Imperial Ballet, as proof of the capacity of American dancers to dance “classical” works, to his final maturity at 66, in ballets such as Who Cares? in which he had perfected a relaxed, whimsical, all-American style, resplendent with intricate foot work and dazzling virtuosity.
Although the dancers of the Opera ballet accredited themselves well in Who Cares? they lacked the brio and dash so desired by Balanchine for the American dancers. The music for Who Cares? by George Gershwin, arranged and orchestrated by Hershy Kay, is subtle and intricate rhythmically demanding a special lightness in its execution.
The dancers were most ably taught the ballets on the program by Sandra Jennings and Patricia Neary.
Date line: Tuesday, February 28th, 2023
Hommage à Patrick Dupond
Patrick Dupond with Max Bozzoni
The Ballet de l’Opéra national de Paris paid homage to Patrick Dupond for three days at the Palais Garnier in a mixed program of ballets proceeded by a short film based on his life in dance.
It is said that the gods envy us because we are mortal and that every day could be our last, which makes everything more beautiful. Dupond danced as if every day was his last, he spared himself nothing in his quest for the ultimate excellence in dance. He passed through our lives: a burning, impish, mercurial presence that leaves a sadness for its absence, but never the less a thankfulness for those who were blessed by their chance to share his passion for dance on stage, all too briefly past.
The program of dance commenced by the celebrated Défilé du Ballet, inaugurated by Serge Lifar in 1946, followed by the works by some of his preferred choreographers: Vaslaw by John Neumeier, Le Chant du Compagnon Errant by Maurice Béjart, and finally Etudes by Harald Lander. The dancers acquitted themselves adequately in the works without any particular brilliance until Etudes, whereupon there burst onto the stage a rising star emulating the charismatic force of Dupond. Guillaume Diop is the dancer to be seen and savored for his absolute dedication to the excellence reminiscent of the spontaneity and charm of Dupond.
What was lacking in the performance of the other dancers was the go for broke, giving all that Diop personified, his was indeed a true homage to Dupond’s legacy. Diop brings an athleticism, which is sorely missing from the male contingent in the company.
Much credit for the exceptional quality of Dupond’s dancing can be attributed to the training and mentoring of Max Bozzoni, who shepherded Dupond’s career throughout its formative stages well into its fruition in stardom.
Hopefully Diop’s youthful exuberance will be nurtured and tempered by a deepening maturity only possible by the creation of roles for him by choreographers, who can sound the depths of his innate soul in his ultimate search for creative excellence in the art of dance, which would be a true homage to Dupond.
Date line: Thursday, February 23rd, 2023
DES OURS | spectacle de la compagnie Luciérnaga
A name to remember: Cassandre Herpin, a synonym for French Total Dance Theatre, presented her creation DES OURS in the heart of Paris in the Forum des Halles at the Centre Ruth Bader Ginsburg. No better place to usher in a fresh wind of creativity than the ancient market place of food for the bellies of Parisiennes, now the Paradise of Shop Until You Drop addicts.
Cassandre is a modern-day Joan of Arc from Orleans, bringing heart land concerns, from the French bastion of monarchs and culture in the fabled valley de la Loire. The four dancers of DES OURS deal with everyday themes of life familiar to French society. No slam bam thank you mam action flick drivel from the foreign invaders in her work, Cassandre choreographs a true tapestry of the French Now, in the manner of the celebrated Lady and the Unicorn tapestries at the Musée de Cluny, depicting the pleasures and riches of an allegorical existence, propaganda eulogizing an imaginary wished for ideal lifestyle. The triviality and absurdity of modern consumerism is enacted in a stream of consciousness creativity: snippets, vignettes, symbols, moves, shapes, and multi centers of action in her stenographic choreography create a theatre of the absurd for the predilection of the viewer. Cassandre is a committed harbinger of French reality, and her fellow Thespis acolytes share her inspired neo-reality:
The first to step forward is Chloé d’Arcy, who performs a inspired female orgasm, giving full vocal accompaniment to her gestural simulation only to be interrupted by a bellowing negration from Arnaud Tagnachie, “Ridiculous rubbish!”, adding to the incongruity of the situation, is the physical appearance of Arnaud, in a skin tight pink leotard, emphasizing his beer bellied stature worthy of a giant caricatural Hells Angel.
The Hell’s a Popping atmosphere is continued and charmed by Cassandre’s naturalist dancing using everyday movements to further her choreographic narrations. She displays a full range of a modern dance vocabulary to support her ode, to anarchistic consumerism in the search for life’s meaning.
Especial credit must go to Pierre Chauvet, whose commitment to the interpretation of today’s everyman, in a portrayal of a soul-destroying self-absorption, is admirable. Surrounded by the symbols, of the all-pervasive omnipotence of communication purveyors; television, MacBooks, and iPhones, he prepares a feast of a French cuisine, not of good wine backed by a Baguette, but of a more realistic dinner of pasta washed down by numerous bottles of beer.
In all LUCIERNAGA, which is Spanish for firefly, brings a welcome addition to the Paris dance scene.
Date line: Friday, February 17th, 2023
Aterballetto / Angelin Preljocaj / Rachid Ouramdane - Over Danse
Un jour nouveau - Rachid Ouramdane - Dancers: Darryl E. Woods and Herma Vos - Photo: Patrick Cockpit
In this Age of Crystal plagued by a pervasive chronophobia, a binome of dissidents have dared to challenge the prevailing doctrine of age limits with an innovative solution: OVER DANCE! Our two heroes, Rachid Ouramdane and Angelin Preljocaj present two timeless choreographic responses to the leitmotif of predestined obsolescence in their collaborative presentation at Chaillot – Théâtre national de la Danse.
The first on the program is Un jour nouveau by Ouramdane, danced by Darryl E. Woods and Herma Vos: accolades to the dancers with a lesser bravo to the choreographer. Ouramdane a brilliant innovator has yet to find his voice in this sensitive realm of aged flesh, blood and sinews. There’s a feeling of hesitancy in his use of two mature artists almost as if he’s afraid that they’ll break if he dares to demand too much from their receptive bones and brains. He lets his oeuvre trickle off in a non-movement malaise.
Preljocaj does not hesitate to challenge his dancers in the second offering on the program, Birthday Party! He pulls out the plug in a cornucopia of different genres: danced admirably by; Mario Barzaghi, Sabina Cesaroni, Patricia Dedieu, Roberto Maria Macchi, Elli Medeiros, Thierry Parmentier, Marie-Thérèse Priou, and Bruce Taylor, all deserving the abundant applause and bravos showered on their performances. Preljocaj also suffers from the creative block of what to do with his mature material. He trots out a series of short sketches from his choreographic repertoire without really coming to grips with the crux of the quandary of how to present really coherent new work with the chosen age group. The solution he presents is a party, which has no real reason to exist except to have a good time.
Here’s hoping that our two heroes will find the time and resources in the manner of Jiří Kylián’s brave forage in the time dimension, to create oeuvres using the full resources of the human tapestry of ages, all deserving exploration and equal development.
Date line: Thursday, February 16th, 2023
aSH - Aurélien Bory / Shantala Shivalingappa
Cie 111 - aSH - Aurelien Bory - Photo: Aglae Bory
Shantala Shivalingappa is the name of one of the most interesting dancer choreographers working today. Her collaboration with Aurélien Bory and his Compagnie 111 in the creation of aSH has produced a solo masterpiece.
Shivalingappa was born in Madras, India, and raised in Paris. Her gurus are Vempati Chinna Satyama, guru of the Kuchipudi dance form, and her mother, Savitry Nair, under whom she trained in Bharatha Natyam. She has worked with prestigious artists such as Maurice Bejart, Peter Brook, Bartabas, Ushio Amagatsu and Pina Bausch. She has specialized in the Kuchipudi, one of the most popular of the eight principal classic Indian danse forms, which is considered to be in India what classic ballet is to the west. Shivalingappa has used the Kuchipudi form to express a contemporary epopee of creation based on honoring the tradition of Shiva.
In Hinduism, Shiva is known as "The Destroyer" within the Trimurti, the Hindu trinity which also includes Brahma and Vishnu. In the Shaivite tradition, Shiva is the Supreme Lord who creates, protects and transforms the universe. In the goddess-oriented Shakta tradition, the Supreme Goddess, Devi is regarded as the energy and creative power, Shakti, and the equal complementary partner of Shiva.
In aSH, Shivalingappa has embraced the Shakta tradition, and assumed the powers of Devi, and thereby she creates, destroys and resurrects the universe in an epic solo theatrical performance. Her Devi embraces the technics of Bharatha Natyam for the body and Kuchipudi for the fluidity of the arms and gestural mudras. Bharatha Natyam is the oldest classical dance tradition in India and was originally danced by men and demands rigorous leg and body strength with its fixed upper torso, bent legs and knees flexed assuming the “Arai mandi” or half sitting position, combined with spectacular footwork. Shantala displays an awesome mastery of both technics in her dance drama and her Arai mandi is a perfect spiritual triangle.
Her dancing is enhanced by Aurélien Bory’s scenography and staging using Kraft paper with its high elasticity and high tear resistance, perfect for creating a universe. Shantala is admirably accompanied by the live music of Loïc Schild and music programed by Joan Cambon. The result is a theatrical tour de force of pure dance poetry to be seen and savored.
Date line: Tuesday, February 14th, 2023
BALLET BRITISH COLUMBIA
Ballet B.C. - The Statement - Photo: Michael Slobodian
Ballet BC presented three works, for their Paris debut, at the Grande Salle, Maison de Arts de Creteil, namely: BEDROOM FOLK, THE STATEMENT, and GARDEN.
Sharon Eyal, in BEDROOM FOLK, first on the program, moved her dancers with the precision of a drill sergeant, brooking no pity for the frailty of the human condition, rendered a somber view of gregarious inter-relations. Taking advantage of the suppleness of the resilient dancers of Ballet B C, her choreography favoured deep willowy back bends, accenting the forward thrusting of the pelvic region, sometimes with the acquiescence of a recipient. Unfortunately, the all black costumes, against a black dance floor, curtains, and harsh lighting, at times, made the dancers almost invisible. The overall effect did not facilitate the ultimate vision or intent of her work.
THE STATEMENT, Crystal Pite’s work, second on the program, was and is a masterpiece! Evoking comparison with THE GREEN TABLE, by Kurt Jooss, created in 1932, which won first prize for the international competition of choreography held by the Archives Internationales de la Danse in Paris, her chef d’oeuvre needs no accolades to assert its self-evident merits. Clean, precise, and apt, her choreography performed by four dancers, synced perfectly with the granular synthesis music composed by Owen Belton, and powerful text by Jonathon Young. Verging on a Japanese Manga style, favored by Quentin Tarantino, Pite’s dancers cast an enchanting spell on the choreographic interpretation of the spoken words, moving beyond simple mime into an internal truth in movement, woven within and without the theatrical time frame into meanings relevant to current events, and extending into eternal paradigms of human and celestial behavior. Pite is a choreographer, whose work has the rare quality of technical excellence, combined to a fine theatrical sense that provides to an appreciative viewer, a deep ethical and artistic satisfaction.
GARDEN, the final work of the evening, by Medhi Walerski, is ethereal, performed by dancers costumed in asexual, androgenous, mono-colored, all in one dance tights, from top to bottom, which give an angelic otherworldly look to the dancers. Walerski doesn’t hesitate to project his dancers into a realm of a possible garden of Eden, whereupon the dancer’s admittance or presence is challenged by repeated onslaughts of challenging angels. Broken into solos, duos, and assorted groupings the choreographic allegory winds to an indeterminate end. Leaving an after taste of a yet to be finished piece.
All in all, an evening to be seen, holding a promise of great things to come!
Date line: Wednesday, February 1st, 2023
Dorothée Munyaneza Mailles
Dorothee Munyaneza Mailles Photo: Leslie Artamonow
Dorothée Munyaneza is an enormously talented polyvalent artist whose recent creation, Mailles presented at the Chaillot Théâtre National de la Danse, lacks theatrical continuity. Intelligence doesn’t always imply intelligibility, and Mailles suffers from the gaps in its structure. Mailles from the Latin “macula” translates in English: in a bad sense; a disfiguring spot, stain, or blemish, in a neutral sense; a mesh in a net, or a cell or link in a coat of mail, and it is in the missing of the unison or continuity of the individual cells or spots in Munyaneza’s oeuvre that mars the development of Mailles, leaving the question, Quo Vadis?
The quality of the dancing, vocalizations, texts, and music is consistently excellent. Munyaneza has created some indelible choreographic motifs, which remain seared into the collective lexis of today’s dance. There is a touch of dilettantism in Munyaneza’s manner of beginning a wonderful display of flamenco style zapateado and port a bras that pleads for more, then dropping it without reason. The same tendency is manifest in the use of semi-autobiographical themes interpolated in the context of past injustices without concrete development.
Hopefully, future presentations will benefit from a coherent redaction with a greater respect for audience appreciation and theatrical conventions of continuity.
Bravi to the supporting artists and creators!
Date line: Wednesday, January 25th, 2023
Necrophilic fantasy is a pervasive leitmotif in classic ballet, usually dressed in charming costumes and romantic settings. Tatiana Julien and Anna Gaïotti have dispensed with charm and quaint décor and get down to a provocative and thought provoking, straight bare assed coupling, with Necrophilia splashed all over their cooperative opus.
Gaïotti, in developing their work, sites her interest in Neapolitan rituals, where women take the dead under their tutelage in order to permit the souls of the dead to escape from purgatory. She also refers to the writings of Tatsumi Hijikata, concerning the Butoh dance and the manipulation of the body. Julien following through on these ideas, provides an abundant amount of body manipulation in their work, some of which is hilarious.
The final result is a one-hour extravaganza of body thrashing and manipulation, darkly lit by a little flaming, shadow casting pot, backed up by stroboscopic flashing, guaranteed to launch the susceptible into a catatonic state resembling the feigned death of Gaïotti. Julien enacts the role of the high priestess fulfilling the shamanic role of resuscitating the inanimate Gaïotti.
Gaïotti, is remarkably flexible and limp limbed, effectuating an ear shattering screaming and rubber body flapping and auto flagellation performance that is awe inspiring, engendered by her awakening from her purgatory by Julien. The following nude pas de deux climaxes the performance that tapers off to leave a mutually exhausted, closely entwined couple, gradually obscured by darkness and a soft welcome silence.
Lighting by Kévin Briard and Agathe Patonnier is muted yet effective. The vocal coach Dalila
Khatir is to be congratulated, for Gaïotti really blows the roof off with her vocalizing. Soundscape and music by Gaspard Guilbert are subtle and admirably adapted to the theme of death and resurrection.
Date line: Saturday, December 10th, 2022
The palindrome as a dance form is well served by its creators: Sofia Dias & Vitor Roriz – Filiz Sizanli & Mustafa Kaplan , in their collective creation NEVER ODD OR EVEN. The décor and costumes by Ângela Rocha, support and reinforce admirably the concept and intentions of the creators of the palindrome dance concept.
Commencing by a blindfolded species resembling a lost Oedipus searching for redemption, chirping, and whistling sonic signals in an effort to find a lost or yet to be discovered binome, the dancers: walk, crawl, circle, and trace complex paths in a quest for unification and harmony, in a somber estranged realm, graced by mysterious hanging symbols, whose meaning and functions are yet to be revealed.
When contact is finally formalized, the dancers reveal a wealth of beautified information in their use of an impressive repertoire of spoken, sung, vocalized, and musically produced concrete acoustic objects, littering, and populating a chaotic soundscape, wrapping its denizens in a world of potentiality, where their individual, and collective resolution of identities, and objectives is yet to be revealed.
Arriving at the moment of truth when all is resolved, and revealed, the performers leave the stage strewn with metaphoric memories to be digested by a sobered and reflective audience.
A must see!
Date line: Saturday, December 3rd , 2022
Nora Chipaumire’s creation Nehanda Manifesting Thinking, presented at the Espace Cardin on November the 5th, is a fine example of Protest Theatre. The creation in the form, stated by Chipaumire, of an Opera, is Insulting, Loud, and Jumbled, as protest should be. The theme is the Shona spiritual leader, Nehanda Charwe Nyakasikana (c. 1840 – 1898), who was a syikiro or spirit medium of the Zezuru Shona people. Nehanda was one of the leaders of the Chimurenga, against the British South Africa Company’s colonization of what is now Zimbabwe led by Cecil John Rhodes in 1889. She was captured and executed by the Company for an alleged murder. Her spirit lives on, linked to the theme of resistance, and has become increasingly important to the nationalist movements in Zimbabwe. The Opera begins with a twenty-six-minute harangue, of No Justice, No Peace, screamed, hollered, chanted, and sung, by performers with their backs turned to the audience, facing inwards to an assembled choir. The whole presentation lasts for one hour and six minutes, which, Chipaumire claims, is but a “snack” of what could be a six-hour ritual! Lord help the audience of a full meal! The performance screeches to an end with a thankfully soft sounding of Shofars, which could once again bring down the Wall’s of a Jericho, of prejudice, hate and oppression, of peoples around this chaotic world of now. PKO
Date line: Saturday, November 5th, 2022
Marina Otero and five wonderfully nude male dancers presented her autofiction FUCK ME at the Les Abbesses Théâtre, to a delightfully bemused public. Ms. Otero obviously loves a long somber joke. Throughout, her dance litany of a nihilistic autodestructing of her superb body, she maintains a poker face portrayal of a seriously handicapped dancer, while her five males all named ‘Padro’ enact her tale of mayhem and corporal auto destruction. The five dancers are polymorph, ranging from very young to begging middle age, all dancing with concentrated energy, and strong technical skills. Video projections, mimicked by the dancers, of all her ages and roles, reveal her evolution as a dancer, director, author, and choreographer. A born expressionist, she presented her inventive gesticulations and dance moves to all and sundry, sparring no one, from family to street spectators and theatre audiences. Strongly sex orientated she relates her fascination with the act, by fucking everybody available, physically, and metaphysically. After a year in a hospital bed, and a cathartic operation, she no longer able to dance as she would wish, directs her choreographic theatre presentation from her bed. The result is an alternation street dance creation, which she finishes on the street, to the delight of a relieved audience, witnesses to a fairy book ending! A must see! PKO
Date line: Thursday, November 3rd, 2022
The Ballet National de Marseille, under the artistic direction of Marine Brutti, Jonathan Debrouwer and Arthur Harel aka (LA)HORDE, presented We Should Have Never Walked on the Moon at the Chaillot Théâtre National de la Danse to a preopening press performance on the 26th of October. Starting with a Belmondo style cascading fall down the grand marble stairway, carpeted by a partially burnt red carpet, performed by alternating stunt people, the press entered a post internet wonder world, of dance and multi-media. An ultra-long black limousine dominated the Foyer de la Danse, backed by the spectacular view of the Eiffel Tower. Strange denizens from a post-apocalyptic underworld populated the space, alternatively scrawling graffiti, on whatever available surface presented itself, which was promptly erased by cleaning machines, constantly circulating around the limousine, upon which outlandishly clothed fashion models prostrated themselves. Press folk feverishly snapped photos and filmed the ongoing event, reminiscent of an Andy Warhol Silver Factory happening. This set the tone of what was to follow, a potpourri of diverse danse and multi-media presentations strewn throughout the vast Chaillot Théâtre, obliging the spectators to scurry here and there in an effort to catch all that was offered in the three-hour long extravaganza. The dance elements by diverse choreographers, ranged from: jump dance style, energetically executed by seven male dancers with fluorescent shoes, performed to pumped-up disco drive music, to down home fuck-fest group sex contrivances remarkably illustrated by three couples, to an isolated romantic pas deux at the foot of the grand staircase. For those who had the stamina to go up and down the diverse staircases, through and around all the spaces, there remained much to see and savor. All and all a must see for the adventurous dance fans who wish to be amused and bemused by the shenanigans of the horde!
Date line: 26th October, 2022
Marco da Silva Ferreira’s choreography, for ferm inferm is to be seen, again, again, and again: performed by eight polymorph dancers, executing diverse composition modes, it fills the stage with mystery, passion, and joy. The four women dancers are built for strength, speed, and flexibility, sporting thighs that permit incredible hinges and fast near floor moves. The men are lithe and smooth complementing the overall look of dancers rooted in everyday life. Together they are coolly synchronized in Ferreira’s complex composition, ranging from tribal ritual, street dancing, pantsula, fugue, tap, hip hop, and post-modern modes of dance expression, accompanied by cries, whistles, speech, and gestural codes, supported with good old down-home foot, leg, chest, and body slapping, backed by vigorous hand clapping.
Ferreira’s opus opens visual structures, rich with potentially diverse interpretations: one that strikes the imagination is the final three dancer totem formed at the end of his composition. The totem is not perpendicular but multi directional, one dancer on the shoulders of the supporting figure, with the third hanging upside down, legs encircling the totem’s waist, reminiscent of clan totems celebrating ancestral origins, all positioned at the end of a long triangular black slash opened on the stage, with dancers gravely observing the ceremony, only to be interrupted by a Bojangles tap routine performed on the black slash, finishing the performance.
Jonathan Uliel Salidanha’s music provides excellent depth with a firm foundation for Ferreira’s work, encompassing natural sound scaping, challenging electro acoustic composition structures, and rock-hard rhythm backing.
Lighting by Carin Geada is evocative of diverse venues and effectively complements the overall work with Dark Dindie styling concept providing costumes suited to the strenuous moves executed by the remarkable dancers.
Amala Dianor’s work Emaphakathini is second on the Chaillot experience Focus Portugal program: second but certainly not least! His work employs a dance-fusion style that embraces altérité, an ancient Platonian concept of otherness encapsuled by societies encountering other societies judged to be completely different. Dianor’s poetic choreography breaks down historical colonial barriers in a celebration of togetherness.
Dianor uses Pantsula, which is a life-style culture covering: fashion, music, dance, gestural and speech codes, to interpret his choreographic philosophy of acceptance of métis and unison and integration of the difference between peoples. The dancers are up to this challenge, interpreting Dianor’s work with enthusiasm and consummate technical virtuosity. The eight dancers of Via Katlehong Dance, the same as those in Ferreira’s work, are superb! Their collective persona transcends mere dance, ascending to poetic heights of artistic excellence, earning well merited applause from an enthusiastic and appreciative audience.
Awir Leon’s music powers Dianor’s dance poetry, laying down acoustic tracks supporting and amplifying his vision, in complete harmony with his conceptual philosophy.
Lighting by Carin Geada and costumes by Julia Burnham are both in tune with the overall concept and complete the artistic vision of the work.
Date line: Thursday, October 6th, 2022
Date line: Thursday, September 22nd, 2022
Date line: Monday, September 19th , 2022
Compagnie XY en collaboration avec Rachid Ouramdane Möbius 7-18 sep 2022
XY: In search of a new choreographic language, The company XY challenges the scenographer to develop a new language to describe their choreographic genius. Their present production of Möbius in collaboration with Rachid Ouramdane, at the Chaillot-Théâtre National de la Danse, demands danse vocabulary neologisms, to describe the neomodern dance phenomimes that their work represents. XY’s auto descriptive of their art uses the term “verticalité circassienne,” which opens polyvalent possibilities of interpretation: ‘verticalité’ accentuates the risks of falling, also in psychotherapy the lack of words, for an individual or a small group; ‘circassienne’ implies circus, or Circassian Circle dances, which are ancient folk dances, exemplified by running and hopping steps. XY excels at running, whether in a line, a group, or individually, running is a sublime form of expression in the company’s corporal vocabulary. Their diverse running manners include: the leaning run, which is used for high acceleration moves, twisting and turning, punctuated by hops, jumps, and falls, leading to an endless mobius, forming a perfect polyhedral. Falling gives XY indelible images to share with an enraptured public: perpendicular, lateral, curved, individual, group, dangerous, amusing, menacing, accidental, planned, or contrived falls, are all part of their choreographic repertoire. Apart, from analyzing their use of descriptive vocabulary to describe their work, it is the evocative aspect of their imaging that transcends the ephemera of the moment, and transmits indelible images of totems, recalling ancestral communal roots. Human totems, two, three, and four bodies high, bring feelings of being watched, cared for, and at times menaced. The use of these totems helps XY to develop a continuity with the folkloric aspect of their work and cements their roots in universal dance traditions. Ouramdane’s deft choreographic touch is evident in XY’s use of group movements, where dynamic interactions polarize the emotional impact of the dance ensembles, bringing conflict, tenderness, exclusion, and mystery to the pallet of expression of the nineteen individuals in the mobius. Excellent lighting design and execution by Vincent Millet, costumes by Nadia Léon, and sound by Claire Thiebault-Besombes compliment the theatricality of the work, and are to be congratulated.
Date line: Tuesday, September 7th , 2022
Le portrait dansé d’une grande musicienne. Rencontre inattendue et touchante entre un danseur-chorégraphe et le clavecin contemporain. Jan Martens n’est jamais là où on l’attend. Incarnant à lui seul la remarquable ouverture d’esprit du paysage artistique flamand, il nous fait ici la proposition insolite d’un solo en hommage à Elisabeth Chojnacka, virtuose contemporaine du clavecin. Pendant un demi-siècle, jusqu’à son décès en 2017, elle fut l’égérie des cordes pincées au sautereau, inspirant les plus grands compositeurs contemporains, de Ligeti à Xenakis et autres Górecki, à créer sur mesure pour son talent démesuré. Comme Jan Martens, Elisabeth Chojnacka s’est produite à plusieurs reprises au Théâtre de la Ville, en récital ou dans les créations de Lucinda Childs, endroit naturellement incontournable pour ce solo. Où Jan Martens danse en écho à la musicienne et son approche percussive du clavecin, sur des rythmes complexes et imprévisibles, non sans donner la parole à ceux qui l’ont connue et accompagnée. Un hommage sincère et émouvant.
Jan Martens presents a delightful ode of seven dance solos, at the Les Abbesses Théâtre in Montmartre, in praise of his muse, Elizabeth Chojnacka, the harpsicord artist. Martens skillfully blends pedagogy and ingenuity in his use of movement and multimedia in his theatrical presentation. He uses the recorded music of Chojnacka for his choreography, she is sadly, no longer alive to accompany him in his work. Part of his pedagogic intent is, to honor the desire of Elizabeth Chojnacka, to share her music and that of a constellation of composers with a wider public. The choreographic dexterity of Martens is well served in his use of a body, his own, atypical to that of an idealized dancer, resembling some imaginary god or goddess, his is the simple body of an ordinary everyday individual. The complexity, of Martens’ solos, comprises a neoclassic post-modern dance salute to many of the dancers and choreographers, whose work has built the danse world that we know today. Martens evokes the work of Harald Kreutzberg, in the isolated use of his bald shaved head, mesmerizing the attention of the onlooker. Marth Graham’s, Lamentation, is recalled in Martens’ propensity to stay nailed to one place on stage, calling into play an extravagant repertoire of arm, hand, head, and upper body work. His naked body provokes a bemused scrutiny by a public, reminiscent of the Saint Petersberg intelligentsia in 1905, shocked by the extravagance of the nude bosom of Isadora Duncan. When Martens decides to move around the stage, he, at times explodes into a display of powerful runs, jumps and bounds, recalling an exuberant young Merce Cunningham. His nudity, however, is not without humor, as when he rubs his calf muscle on the floor, searching for a concrete found sound, then smacking the poor muscle for its lack of suitableness, in the manner of John Cage’s search with his prepared piano for the unusual new found sound, to be used to complement Cunningham’s choreography. Martens’ androgenous corp is complemented to advantage in a Tango, wherein the costume, his body, and choreography, embodies the elusiveness of the LGBTQI movement to be categorized or stigmatized. The solo concert is closed with the music of György Ligeti, where Martens’ choreography devolves into a single movement, frozen in time, leaving the mystery of the symbolism of the red glove covering his hand and forearm. PKO
Date line: Monday, July 4th , 2022
Possible Worlds explored by a tightrope walker, a climber, acrobats, and high-level athletes unified and concretized by the choreographic genius of Rachid Ouramdane, supported by the transcendent music of Jean-Baptiste Julien, unleash an epiphany of natural movement that is at the heart of all true dance. The choice of a multimedia environment brings Ouramdane’s creation Corps extrêmes into our modern hyper digitalized interactive networked world, thus, cementing an immediate visceral audience contact with his oeuvre. The delight of the work, is that the revelation of its meaning, is only revealed in the last moments of the performance. Ouramdane constructs his argument, in an ongoing dialectic with his public, unveiling in a series of highly evocative images, its ultimate resolution. His high-level athlete dance artists, in a series of solos, combinatorial compositions of nine, eight, three, ten and finally two, dance movements, provide the essence of his oeuvre. Special accolades to Nathan Paulin for unitizing choreography and concept, by interrelating his slackline work, in an especially difficult and perilous performance. Paulin’s final descent from the ethereal to the concrete, completes Ouramdane’s choreographic argument. The theatrical impact of Ouramdane’s work is augmented by bringing, the external world of the environment, into the theatre, in the form of a climbing wall, offering an enormous range of spatial possibilities, which he explores, into the now real dance world. Corps extrêmes is a must see! PKO
Date line: Saturday, June 18th , 2022
Malandain Ballet Biarritz Programme Stravinski
Claire Lonchampt, Hugo Layer, Mickaël Conte - Oiseau de feu Photo: Olivier Houeix
L’Oiseau de feu MUSIQUE Igor Stravinski CHORÉGRAPHIE Thierry Malandain COSTUMES Jorge Gallardo
LUMIÈRES François Menou
RÉALISATION COSTUMES Véronique Murat, assistée de Charlotte Margnoux
MAÎTRES DE BALLET Richard Coudray & Giuseppe Chiavaro
Ballet pour 22 danseurs
Friday evenings performance of Thierry Malandain’s Firebird was truly brilliant! Malandain’s choreography is rich and inventive: filling the stage of the salle Jean Vilar, as would an impressionist painter using broad, yet intimate strokes executed by his dancers. He creates a world, through the character of his Firebird and dancers, where there is hope and resurrection. Since the creation of the Michel Fokine’s original ballet by the Ballets Russes of Serge Diaghilev at the Paris Opera, June 25th, 1910, there have been no less then 150 different productions of the Firebird concept: some successful some not. Malandain brings a highly Christian theme of redemption to his ballet: through the intervention, of a supernatural union of heaven and earth, made possible by the Firebird itself; his mythical bird is personified by an androgynous dancer, exemplified by a young male dancer; who displayed a perfect classical line. It’s a pity that there were no dancer’s names in the program: it would only be just if that oversight were rectified in the future; for the dancers, without exception, were magnificent, working together, tightly disciplined, with an enviable lightness to their jumps, no thumping landings for these terpsichores, and they deserve individual and collective recognition.
Malandain’s choreography evokes references to past masters of the Firebird theme: Balanchine’s 1949 work is delightfully interwoven into the ballet, through Malandain’s use of Balanchine’s leitmotif of the intertwining of his dancers in a sort of neverending daisy chain, used here as a pas de trois of the Firebird partnering Heaven and Gaia; the choice of Maurice Béjart, of Michaël Denard for the role of the Firebird, the original being that of a woman, danced by Tamara Karsavina, is followed by Malandain with floorwork by his Firebird recalling that of Béjart’s Firebird, the divine Michaël Denard.
The apotheosis of the ballet comes: with the breath of the Firebird uniting Heaven and Gaia in the light of the eternal soul of all humanity; thus, bringing hope, meaning and everlasting peace to all existence.Costumes by Jorge Gallardo were memorable and well executed by Véronique Murat and Charlotte Margnoux, with a special accolade for that of the Firebird, which was light and evidently extremely danceable.
Lighting by François Menou helped bring meaning and life to Malandain’s work and deserves a special mention.
Rites of Spring
Photo: Olivier Houeix Le Sacre du printemps
MUSIQUE Igor Stravinski
CHORÉGRAPHIE ET SCÉNOGRAPHIE Martin Harriague
LUMIÈRES François Menou et Martin Harriague
COSTUMES Mieke Kockelkorn
RÉALISATION COSTUMES Véronique Murat, assistée de Charlotte Margnoux
RÉALISATION DÉCOR/ACCESSOIRES Frédéric Vadé
ASSISTANTES CHORÉGRAPHE Françoise Dubuc, Nuria López Cortés
Ballet pour 18 danseurs
Martin Harriague is a choreographer of abounding imagination whose images print indelible impressions on the imaginations of the spectators of his Rites of Spring. Particularly potent are: The vision of dancers slithering out of the piano placed on the stage; primordial beings evoked by the music of Stravinsky; whilst the composer plays the opening strains of his opus on the piano. Ancient religions worshiping the sun god; recalled by Harriague’s dancers: seated facing the iridescent sacred light streaming down on their adoring faces. The building of a primitive Stonehenge out of massive blocks by the straining dancers: forming a circle whereon they sit in judgement of the chosen one; exhorting her on to ever greater efforts; just until her ultimate death; bringing forth new life to the now fertile soil.
Harriague’s choreography tends to be favoring dancers sitting; this propensity engenders a rather static vision of dance, which might not be to everyone’s taste, and has the unfortunate aspect of rendering the action les coherent. Some characterizations are less than flattering: that of the Shaman is particularly unsavory, giving the impression of a doddering old fool rather than the potent harbinger of ritual necessity for the well-being of the tribe. The chosen one comes off more a victim than a willing virgin, who performs the ultimate sacrifice for the good of her people. Lastly the section of the ballet where the virgin is chosen resembles a gang rape, where the maiden is manhandled, mauled, and thrown clumsily around to no good effect.
Lighting by François Menou and Martin Harriague is effective and supports the overall concept.
Costumes by Mieke Kockeikorn and executed by Véronique Murat and Charlotte Margnaux are in keeping with the theme.
Décor and accessories are by Frédéric Vadé and are well adapted to Harriague’s concept.
November the 5th, 2021
Venue : Théâtre National de La Danse Chaillot
1, place du Trocadéro,
75016 Paris, France
Salle Jean Vitar
Date line: Friday, November 5th , 2021