Archives de Tag: Francesco Vantaggio

Balanchine’s « Songe » : Energy is Eternal Delight

Balanchine’s Dream remains an oddly-told tale. When I was young and picky in New York, and even as I grew older, I was never fully enchanted, never transported from start to finish. Nor have I been this time around in Paris. Does this ballet ever work? Who cares about Hippolyta or that guy in the shapka? (I will write about neither, you won’t notice). What I’ve been told for way too many years is that what I’ve been missing is a cast with the right kind of energy…which the ballet’s very structure seems to want to render impossible.

“Man has no body distinct from his soul”

And yet I found some of that elusive energy. With Marion Barbeau one night and with Hugo Marchard the other. In both cases: an almost carnivorous joy in eating the air of the stage with their bodies, indeed letting us in on their glee at how they could use their flesh to enliven Titania’s or Oberon’s story. Their energy – not to mention the beautiful lines that both dancers richly carved into thin air – proved contagious.

Eleonora Abbagnato appears so seldom with the company anymore that to me she is an alien. Paired with a technically sharp but emotionally green Paul Marque, she faded into doing the right stuff of a guest artist. Marchand, mischievous and very manly, woke Abbagnato up and inspired her to be the ballerina we have missed: instead of doing just the steps with assurance, she gave those steps and mime that little lilt of more.

“Those who restrain Desire, do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained”

Even if the audience applauds her, Sae Eun Park continues to dance like a generic drug. Yes, she has lovely Taglioni limbs, but no energy flows up to her legs from the floor (don’t even think about any life in her torso or back) nor does any radiate into her unconnected arms or super-high arabesque. You get served, each time, the same-old-same-old perfect grand jeté split reproduced with the same precision and « effortlessness » [i.e. lack of connection to a core] that is required to win competitions. Watching a gymnast with excellent manners always perform completely from the outside just…depresses me. She’s been promoted way too fast and needs to learn so much more. After today, I swear I will never mention her again until she stops being a Little Miss Bunhead.

Act II’s only interesting thing, the “pas de deux” via Park, then, was very worked out and dutiful and as utterly predictable and repetitive as a smoothie. Dorothée Gilbert in the same duet left me cold as well: precise, poised, she presented the steps to the audience.  Gilbert freezes into being too self-consciously elegant every time she’s cast in anything Balanchine. The women’s cavaliers (Karl Paquette for Park: Alessio Carbone for Gilbert) tried really, really, hard. I warmed to Carbone’s tilts of the head and the way he sought to welcome his ballerina into his space. Alas, for me, the pas died each time.

“Life delights in life”

If Park as Helena hit the marks and did the steps very prettily, Fanny Gorse gave the same role more juice and had already extended the expressivity of her limbs the second time I saw her. As Hermia, Laëtitia Pujol tried so hard to bring some kind of dramatic coherence to the proceedings that she seemed to have been coached by Agnes de Mille. This could have worked if Pujol’s pair, a reserved Carbone and an unusually stiff Audric Bezard, had offered high foolishness in counterpoint. For my third cast, Fabien Révillion and Axel Ibot – eager and talented men who could both easily dance and bring life to bigger roles — booted up the panache and gave Mélanie Hurel’s Hermia something worth fighting for.

As Oberon’s minion, “Butterfly,” both the darting and ever demure Muriel Zusperreguy and the all-out and determined Letizia Galloni (one many are watching these days) made hard times fly by despite being stuffed into hideous 1960’s “baby-doll” outfits that made all the bugs look fat. (Apparently there was some Balanchine Trust/Karinska stuff going on. Normally, Christian Lacroix makes all his dancers look better).

I am ready to go to the ASPCA and adopt either Pierre Rétif or Francesco Vantaggio. Both of their Bottoms would make adorable and tender pets. And Hugo Vigliotti’s Puck wouldn’t make a bad addition to my garden either: a masterful bumblebee on powerful legs, this man’s arms would make my flowers stand up and salute.

« If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite »

I am so disappointed that Emmanuel Thibault – and maybe he is too – has spent his entire career in Paris cast as the “go-to” elf or jester. Maybe like Valery Panov or Mikhael Baryshnikov, he should have fled his company and country long ago “in search of artistic freedom.” He never got the parts he deserved because he jumped too high and too well to be a “danseur noble?” What?! Will that cliché from the 19th century ever die? As Puck the night I saw him, Thibault did nice and extraordinarily musical stuff but wasn’t super “on,” as I’ve seen him consistently do for decades. Maybe he was bored, perhaps injured, perhaps messed up by the idea of having hit the age where you are forced to retire? [42 1/2, don’t ask me where the 1/2 came from]. I will desperately miss getting to see this infinitely talented artist continue to craft characters with his dance, as will the:

Ancient Lady, as thin and chiseled as her cane, who lurched haughtily into the elevator during an intermission. She nodded, acknowledging that we were old-timers who knew where to find the secret women’s toilets with no line. So the normal longish chat would never happen. But I got an earful before she slammed shut her cubicle’s door: “Where is Neumeier’s version? That one makes sense! Thibault was gorgeous then and well served by the choreography. This one just makes me feel tired. I’m too old for nonsense dipped in sugar-coated costumes.” On the way back, the lady didn’t wait for me, but shot out a last comment as the elevator doors were closing in my face: “Emmanuel Thibault as Oberon! This Hugo Marchand as Puck! Nureyev would have thought of that kind of casting!”

The quotes are random bits pinched from William Blake (1757-1827). The photo is from 1921, « proceedings near a lake in America »

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Les Balletos d’or 2015-2016

Louis Frémolle par Gavarni. "Les petits mystères de l'Opéra".

Louis Frémolle par Gavarni. « Les petits mystères de l’Opéra ».

L’ordre national de la Légion d’honneur a eu beau faire de la trompette avec son interminable promotion du 14-Juillet, ces derniers jours, chacun n’a eu d’yeux que pour la liste des Balletos d’Or de la saison 2015-2016. Tout le petit milieu des aficionados de la danse s’est pressé devant une petite affichette grise épinglée dans les coulisses des grandes salles de spectacle de France, d’Europe et du monde. Beaucoup d’appelés, peu d’élus : à Covent-Garden, au Bolchoï, à Bastille ou à Garnier, plus d’un a été déçu. Jugez vous-mêmes, voici la liste des prix.

 

Ministère de la Création franche

Prix Tu nous surprendras toujours: William Forsythe, Blake Works I

Prix Adage agité ex-aequo: Benjamin Millepied & Justin Peck

Prix musical : Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker (soirée Bartók/Beethoven/Schönberg)

Prix Service minimum : Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (pour son tiers de Casse-Noisette)

Prix Déjà oublié : Wayne McGregor (Alea Sands)

Prix Tout arrive : Wayne McGregor inspiré dans Obsidian Tear (musique d’Esa-Pekka Salonen)

 

Ministère de la Loge de Côté

Prix Versatilité : Pablo Legasa (Giselle-Pas des Vendangeurs, Blake Works 1-Put That Away)

Prix Densité : Eléonore Guérineau (Of Any If And)

Prix Ballon de jeunesse (ou Jeunesse du ballon) : Emmanuel Thibault (Mercutio)

Prix Râteau sacré (ou Sacré râteau) : Guillaume Charlot, grand Brahmane dans La Bayadère

 

Ministère de la Place sans visibilité

 Prix Sur-vitaminé : Valentine Colasante et François Alu (Thème et Variations)

 Prix Balanchine : Sterling Hyltin (tournée du New York City Ballet)

 Prix Pina Bausch: Vincent Cordier (Le Sacre du Printemps)

 Prix Présence scénique (ex-aequo) : Pierre Rétif et Francesco Vantaggio (20 danseurs pour le XXe siècle)

 Prix Papier-peint d’Art : le corps de ballet féminin (La Bayadère)

 Prix Puritain : Dmitri Tcherniakov (scénario de Iolanta/Casse-Noisette)

 

Ministère de la Ménagerie de scène

Prix sylvestre : Hannah O’Neill (Myrtha)

Prix alpestre : Sara Mearns

Prix céleste : Héloïse Bourdon, pour l’ensemble de sa saison

Prix Bébête en manque de tendresse : Steven McRae (la Créature, Frankenstein ; Royal Ballet)

 

Ministère de la Natalité galopante

Prix quatuor stylé : Mlles Bourdon et Hurel, MM. Révillion et Lorieux (Variations Goldberg)

Prix Nounours caoutchouc : Brigel Gjoka et Riley Watts (Duo2015, Théâtre des Champs Élysées)

Prix de l’arabesque affolante : Hugo Marchand (Blake Works I-I Hope My Life)

Prix Joli pied : Marion Gautier de Charnacé (20 danseurs pour le XXe siècle)

 

Ministère de la Collation d’Entracte

Prix Navet: Carlos Acosta (Carmen, Royal Ballet)

Prix Carême: Tannhäuser pour le défilé du Ballet

Prix Étouffe-chrétien : Le Corsaire de l’ENB

 

Ministère de la Couture et de l’Accessoire

Prix Spirou : Karl Paquette et Karl Lagerfeld (la coiffe groom du Brahms-Schönberg Quartet)

Prix Je veux cette robe : Mary Katrantzou (Entre Chien et Loup)

Prix Jersey poignant : Myriam Kamionka (Lamentations de Graham ; 20 danseurs pour le XXe siècle)

Prix Comment tu t’appelles déjà ? : Pierre-Arthus Allard-Raveau (une compilation)

 

Ministère de la Retraite qui sonne

Prix N’avait pas lu la description de poste : Benjamin Millepied

Prix Exécution musicale : Giselle par l’orchestre des lauréats du Conservatoire

Prix Encore une année sans danser ou presque : Jérémie Bélingard (un abonné)

 

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Classé dans Blog-trotters (Ailleurs), Humeurs d'abonnés, Retours de la Grande boutique

Charmatz at the Opéra : “Fate is a foolish thing…Take a chance”*

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The evil fairy’s costume from Nureyev’s « Sleeping Beauty, » trapped in a glass case. Her dancer spirit roamed the halls of the Palais Garnier.

20 danseurs pour le XXe siècle. Palais Garnier. September 30th

The public spaces outside the auditorium of the Palais Garnier are designed for circulation, a bit of people-watching, but certainly not for strap-hanging.

I feared getting around Boris Charmatz’s seemingly random collage of dance and dancers would feel like being stuck in the Paris metro. God, another accordionist. You rush to the car behind, but then get your nose crushed against the door. Moments later you find yourself waist-high in a school group. Then, abruptly, it all thins out and you are gawking at two boys rapping and doing back-flips in the aisle. Maybe, with luck, you get to sit.

That’s why I only took one chance on 20 Danseurs pour le XXe siècle as adapted for the Paris Opéra dancers. The Charmatz/Musée de la danse concept sounded borrowed from what has, in the space of twenty years, become a theatrical staple. Actors spread out throughout an a-typical space repeat scenes – fragments of a story – and are gawked at. You use your legs to trace a path, choose how long you want to stand in one doorway, and worry about what’s going on elsewhere. Chances are you will construct a narrative that makes sense to you, or not. I find this genre as annoying as where — just when you start to get into the novel you are eaves-reading – your seatmate hops off at her stop.

I was so wrong. Instead of a half-overheard conversation in a noisy train, here we were treated to an anthology of coherent one-page short stories. It was the hop-on-hop-off tour bus: only a three-day ticket lets you get to enough of the sights. But even one day in Paris is definitely worth the trip.

If, as Fred Astaire’s Guy Holden says, “chance is the fool’s name for fate,”* somehow I was fated (pushed and pulled?) to stopping off at those stations that housed tiny but complete narratives of sorrow. (A Balletonaut has told me I missed much happy, even foolish, fun. Next time, I’m travelling with him).

“How do you do? I am delightful”*

Perhaps the oddest thing for both conductor and passengers is finding themselves face to face. When the lights are out in a theater, the auditorium looks like a deep dark tunnel from the stage…not like these hundreds of beady eyes now within touching distance. And even we were uneasy: one wall had been broken down, but where to put eye contact? We did what we usually do at the end of each snippet: applauded and moved on. Very few dared to actually approach and speak to the ferociously focused dancers. Thank god joining in some kind of conga-line was not part of the plan. Instead:

I stumbled across Stephanie Romberg, loose and intense, unleashing all of Carabosse’s furious curse within the tiny rotunda of the “Salon du soleil.” As in each case here: no set, no costume. It felt almost obscene to be peeping at a body sculpting such purely distilled rage. Think: the crazy lady, with a whiff of having once been a grande dame, howling to herself while dangerously near the edge of the subway platform.

Myriam Kamionka’s luminous face and warm and welcoming persona then drew me over into a crowded curving corridor. Casually seated on a prop bench in front of a loge door, she suddenly disappeared into the folds of Martha Graham’s Lamentations. I wound up experiencing this dance from total stage left. Pressed between tall people, my cheek crushed against the frilly jabot of Servandoni’s marble bust, I felt like someone pretending not to be looking directly at the person collapsed on the station floor. And then I couldn’t stop staring. You could almost feel the air thicken as Kamionka drew us into her condensation of despair. Even the kiddies, just a few feet away, sat silent and wide-eyed and utterly motionless. As they remained for the next story: a savagely wounded swan in pointes and stretch jeans dying, magnificently.

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In search of air to clear my head I wound up behind two visions of Stravinsky’s Sacre. The view from the wrong end of the station, as it were, was so cool: this is the corps’ or the stagehands’ view!

In Pina Bausch’s version, Francesco Vantaggio pushed against the limits of the long and narrow Galerie du Glacier like a rocking runaway train. His muscular, dense, weighted, rounded and fully connected movement projected deep power, unloosed from the earth. When he repeated that typical Pina shape that’s kind of a G-clef – arms as if an “s” fell on its side (rather like an exploded 4th), body tilted off legs in passé en pliant – I thought, “man, Paul Taylor’s still alive. Get on the subway and go barge into his studio…now!” Yet when it was over, as he moved away and sat on the floor to the side to decompress and I was trying to catch my own breath back…I feared making eye-contact. (Forget about, like, just walking over and saying “Hi, loved it, man.” You don’t do that in Paris, neither above the ground nor underneath it).

Marion Gautier de Charnacé. Nijinsky's Rite of Spring

Marion Gautier de Charnacé possessed by Nijinsky’s Rite of Spring

Marion Gautier de Charnacé, on the outdoors terrace, then made the honking horns and sirens accompanying “The Chosen One’s” dance of death seem like part of the score. All our futile rushing about each day was rendered positively meaningless by the urgency of Nijinsky’s no-way-out vortex of relentless trembles and painful unending bounces. Even if she was wearing thick sneakers, I since have been worrying about this lovely light-boned girl repeatedly pounding her feet on a crushed stone surface over thirteen days. Make-believe sacrifice, yes. Shin-splints, no.

Finally I cast my eyes down from an avant-foyer balcony to spy upon Petroushka’s bitter lament of love and loss, as Samuel Murez – making it look as if his limbs were really attached by galvanized wires — let the great solo unfold on the Grand Escalier’s boxy turnabout. A moment of grace arrived. Two little girls framed within the opening to the orchestra level behind him could not resist trying to mirror his every movement. Not for us, but for themselves. As if they really believed he was a life-size puppet and were trying to invite him home to play. The barrier between audience and performer, between real and unreal, the prosaic and the magical, had finally given way. Too soon, it was all over. Time to wave goodbye.

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Beyond the rainbow: Samuel Murez conjures Petroushkins.

“Chances are that fate is foolish.”*

Back on the metro the next morning, I got a seat and quietly began to concentrate on my thoughts. But then at the next station that woman got on who still gives us no choice but to endure three stops’ worth of “Besame mucho” whether we want it or not.

* Quotes are from Fred and Ginger’s 1934 The Gay Divorcée, especially as mangled by Erik Rhodes’s enchanting “Alberto Tonnetti”

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