Archives de Tag: Stéphanie Roublot

Lac des Swans (Bordeaux)

P1080799Fenella et Cléopold sont allés à Bordeaux pour assister à une représentation de la production Charles Jude du Lac des Cygnes le 28 juin en matinée. En croisant leurs textes au moment de l’édition, ils se sont rendus que s’ils ne s’étaient pas exprimés dans la même langue, ils avaient vraisemblablement vu la représentation d’un même œil. Ils ont même produits des textes sensiblement de la même longueur (c’est dire que ce n’est pas court…). 

Honneur aux dames! English version

Fenella : “Chewing the food of sweet and bitter fancy.” (Act 4, Scene 3)

Charles Jude’s rich and flavorful production fills up the stage and makes it look bigger. Bravo to the supernumeraries who seamlessly integrated themselves into a seasoned and dignified ensemble. No mistakes.  But I have become so addicted to the Nureyev “too many notes” version that at first I couldn’t help longing for some more complex chorales and/or the ripple of sweeping bows by the boys as they exit their polonaise towards the end of Act 1.  Then I forgot all about that. Bordeaux’s “Swan Lake” satisfies.

 One aspect of this version strikes me as pretty odd, though. If Neumeier’s choice of specifying mad King Ludwig’s Neuschwannstein made unexpected sense – almost to the point you want to say “duh –  Jude inexplicably zeroed in on Scotland. While the misty land of the sylphide and Sir Walter Scott certainly lends itself to pretty and colorful costumes, this choice seems to add nothing else to the drama at hand. Or, to rephrase, isn’t used to add something more.

  “If thou remember’st not the slightest folly/That ever love did make thee run into,/Thou hast not loved.”

(Act 2, Scene 4)

A more passionate, noiselessly-fleet Siegfried than Oleg Rogachev’s would be hard to find. In his debut in the role, this young dancer proves mature enough to understand how to play “young and noble but  still immature.” Always aware, always making eye-contact, he quickly got over a bit of dryness in his legs, and even made his somewhat blocked energy during the anguished solo near the end of Act 1  – I’m so lonely, there’s no point to my existence — seem dramatically apt. For the rest of the afternoon, I concentrated on relishing his long legs and soft plié and completely engaged upper body.  He’s a generous dancer: expressive and eager, elegant but still just the right shade of boyish. You want to root for his Siegfried.

A fool, a fool! I met a fool i’the forest” (Act 2, Scene 7)

 In keeping with many thoughtful – but not always fully smoothed out — hommages to the strengths of the other versions Jude knows so well, here Wolfgang =Rothbart.  A double role as in Nureyev’s Parisian production, he is Siegfried’s tutor by day and swan torturer by night (or at least it’s the same dancer. Some kind of clearer parallels need to be added to the staging). As in Bourmeister’s, he is also a ringmaster who brings the character dancers onstage for Act 3 (but then why are they surprised by his dastardly deeds? Had they only hooked up with him in the cab from the train station?)  The production has been around long enough for these distractions to have been fixed.

 Alert, vivid, working with what he was given, Alvaro Rodriguez-Piñera made as much a statement as possible in the role.  The power and control he used to fuel his explosive airborne solo in Act 3 made the clunky costume, possibly inspired by a hand-grenade, seem rather fitting after all.

 “I do desire we be better strangers.” (Act 3, Scene 2)

 The last time I saw her, Mika Yoneyama relaxed poise completely charmed me in Serge Lifar’s “Suite en blanc.” I was so pleased that she would now have a chance to bring a fresh perspecive to Odette/Odile. Maybe it was first-time jitters, but when this tall and beautifully-formed and beyond technically irreproachable talent as Swan Queen first faced her lithe and lively and ardent prince in the forest…I nearly cried. But for the wrong reasons.

 Lovely lines and picture perfect, Yoneyama was concentrating so hard on making every step correctly fit a ballet manual that she didn’t manage to let her body go somewhere that would have allowed it to register the shock of Odette’s first encounter with Siegfried. Fluttering a bit, eyes downcast, she seemed…unruffled. No fear, only mild disappointment as expressed by the evenly-spaced shifting of weight from one toe to the other. Indeed, I wondered whether some coach hadn’t given her the bad advice that she should somehow be thinking: “I’ve seen you princes come and go and at this point I’m just not about this. Anyway, it’s hopeless. I’ve seen Act 4 already.” (And, boy, is this one’s ending probably the most depressing ever). The steps continued to flow: precise and impersonal. This turned Rogachev’s Siegfried into the one hopelessly beating his wings against a pane of glass:  a kind of deluded Franz, desperately trying to woo a girl with enamel eyes.

 That is not what audiences seek in Swan Lake, I fear. And not, I think, what this O/O wanted either! This is such an Everest of a role that nerves, or an attack of shyness, or a desire to step into a pantheon’s worth of shoes can fill up your brain until it flirts with implosion. It took nailing the second set of attitude turns in the 3rd act variation to finally bring on an unguarded moment of release in her body.

 Then, poof! Her eyes flashed and Odette’s heart began to beat as she swivelled away from the line of desperate swans in Act IV. Aha. I wish I had been able to stay in Bordeaux and see what happened once Yoneyama was released from the spell of her own and everyone else’s expectations.

 All quotes, as you guessed, are from Shakespeare’s “As You Like It”
Le Lac des Cygnes. L'acte 3 et sa tempête...

Le Lac des Cygnes. L’acte 3 et sa tempête…

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Cléopold : Un Lac de synthèse

Charles Jude, directeur depuis bientôt vingt ans du Ballet de Bordeaux, et signataire de cette version bordelaise, a dansé à l’Opéra de Paris deux versions du Lac des Cygnes : celle de Vladimir Bourmeister et celle de Rudolf Noureev créée sur lui-même et Elisabeth Platel en 1984. À ce titre sa propre version du premier chef d’œuvre de Tchaïkovski est passionnante. Charles Jude semble avoir décidé de garder le meilleur des deux versions. De Bourmeister, il retient l’invasion du palais par Rothbart, accompagné des danses de caractère qui semblent ensuite narguer le prince. À l’acte 4, il garde l’idée de la tempête qui engloutit les amants (mais pas le triomphe final), la longue théorie de cygnes qui quitte mélancoliquement de plateau tandis qu’Odette se débat au milieu des quatre grands cygnes farouchement opposés au pardon du prince parjure. De Noureev, Charles Jude conserve l’amalgame du personnage du percepteur Wolfgang et du magicien Rothbart, l’ajout d’une variation pour le prince à l’acte 2 (même si c’est dans une autre chorégraphie) ainsi que les passages de la tradition « Kirov » intégrés à la variation parisienne (ainsi le traditionnel pas de trois enlevé avec beaucoup de ballon par Ashley Whittle, Diane Le Floc’h et Marina Guizien).

La production est plaisante à l’œil. On n’ira pas chercher trop loin la raison pour laquelle l’action a été transposée en Écosse (Rothbart serait-il un avatar du monstre de Lochness ?) puisque cela permet de jolies harmonies de tartans pourpres et orangés à l’acte 1 et à l’acte 3 (Philippe Binot). Comme pour la version Noureev, les tutus des cygnes sont globalement dépourvus de plumes. Les décors pour les actes de palais sont également intéressants. Le premier acte présente un parc dominant le cirque montagneux qui servira de cadre à l’acte 2. Côté jardin, une énigmatique divinité féminine avec un pot renversé à ses côtés, figure l’élément aquatique. À l’acte 3, la salle du palais royal est décorée d’une fresque, immense agrandissement d’un tableau allégorique. Un peintre se concentre sur une toile représentant un paysage lacustre. Dans son dos, Hermès, dieu de l’inspiration débridée mais aussi du mensonge semble être là pour le conseiller mais, dans le même temps regarde par derrière, vers le trône royal, un doigt posé sur sa bouche. C’est dans le paysage sur chevalet du peintre qu’apparaît Odette désespérée lorsque le prince s’est parjuré. Brillante idée.

La chorégraphie de Charles Jude  ne s’aventure pas sur le terrain du contrepoint comme le fait celle de Noureev mais le résultat final n’est jamais ennuyeux. Le corps de ballet, bien réglé, sans raideur, est très école française. L’attention est portée sur le haut du corps et la noblesse des ports de bras. Aux actes 2 et 4, ceux des cygnes sont sobres, aux antipodes de ces délires décoratifs qu’on confond trop souvent avec le lyrisme. Les danses de caractère sont bien construites. La Csardas est ce qu’il faut dans le sol et met bien l’accent sur la présentation du pied dans le développé (Marc-Emmanuel Zanoli et Marina Kudryashova) ; la danse espagnole est capiteuse à souhait (Stéphanie Roublot, elle aussi bien ancrée dans le sol que ses quatre toréadors sont bondissants). La napolitaine (intégralement féminine) et la Mazurka sont très enlevées avec de jolis temps en l’air.

Tout n’est cependant pas entièrement abouti dans cette version. Quelques chausse-trappes dramaturgiques empêchent parfois d’adhérer totalement à l’action. Si les danseurs de caractère sont des suppôts de Rothbart, pourquoi, au moment du dénouement dramatique de l’acte participent-ils à l’affolement général ? De même, le rôle du sorcier est d’un dessin hésitant. Charles Jude, s’il reprend l’idée du Précepteur magicien, ne lui donne pas grand-chose à faire à l’acte 1 qui montrerait son ascendant sur le prince. À l’acte 3, lorsqu’il fait son apparition en compagnie du cygne noir et des danseurs de caractère, rien dans l’assemblée ne semble indiquer que Rothbart est reconnu par les membres de la cour. L’entrada du pas de deux du cygne noir n’est pas transformée en pas de trois. En revanche, le Rothbart écope d’une variation ; une occasion pour Alvaro Rodriguez Piñera de montrer sa vélocité et son beau temps de saut. Plus qu’un maléfique enchanteur, on verrait plutôt en lui un Puck facétieux (il ferait des merveilles dans le « Songe » de Neumeier –un double-rôle là aussi) mais on ne boude pas son plaisir.

Pour ses sept représentations du Lac, le ballet de l’Opéra de Bordeaux disposait de deux distributions. Le 28 juin, la distribution « maison » accomplissait un double début dans les rôles du prince Siegfried et d’Odette-Odile. Oleg Rogatchev bénéficie d’un physique de prince idéal : longiligne, l’œil et le cheveu clair. Ses longues lignes ont une éloquence naturelle. Son phrasé et son lyrisme ne sont pas sans évoquer l’ancienne tradition Kirov (son entrée désespérée à l’acte 4, nous a fait penser à Konstantin Zaklinsky, prince noble et grand technicien des années 90). Son exécution de la chorégraphie n’est certes pas toujours parfaitement maîtrisée mais on peut imputer de petits relâchés de genoux à la pression d’une prise de rôle.

Sa partenaire, Mika Yoneyama, bénéficie également de nombreuses qualités qui feront un beau cygne : lignes longues, arabesque facile, plié crémeux (qu’on avait remarqué lors des soirées Lifar). Pour cette première, elle semblait malheureusement avoir mis l’accent sur la sûreté technique plutôt que sur l’interprétation. Son cygne blanc manquait cruellement de fragilité et son cygne noir de relâché.

Surtout, son approche contrastait un peu trop violemment avec celle de son partenaire : dans le pas de deux du cygne noir, Siegried vient disputer Odile à Rothbart et l’attire à lui. Oleg Rogatchev, très chevalier servant, s’empresse mais ne fait qu’effleurer les doigts de sa partenaire, comme si elle était une fleur fragile. Impression contredite immédiatement par mademoiselle Yoneyama qui s’accroche brusquement à son cou pour effectuer une arabesque penchée aussi parfaitement à 180° qu’elle est inexpressive. Le pauvre prince a tout à coup l’air bien falot.

Il n’est pas sûr que ce couple sera à retenter pour ce ballet même si chacun à très certainement un bel avenir dans son rôle respectif.

Le Lac des Cygnes : Mika Yoneyama et Oleg Rogatchev ©SigridColomyes

Le Lac des Cygnes : Mika Yoneyama et Oleg Rogatchev ©SigridColomyes

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Bordeaux: Roses Bloom Beyond Paris (3/3)

DAY TWO: BORDEAUX (matinee, October 26th)

P1080799ICARE (Lifar/Honneger/Picasso)

“Men,” said the little prince, “set out on their way in express trains, but they do not know what they are looking for. Then they rush about, and get excited, and turn round and round […] “With a hint of sadness, he added: ‘Straight ahead of him, nobody can go very far…”

What a weird and startling experience. To all of the Dr.Who guys from the Nerd Bars in Brookyn: prick up your ears! Not going to ballet explains why you still haven’t found what you’re looking for. An ancient legend of just what happens when you try to fly too high in the sky with invented wings, merged with violent and multi-colored percussion, plus sets and costumes by Picasso in his most Jean Cocteau (as in, let’s do this in bold, iconic, yet ironic, strokes) phase, is what you need.

Most at this matinee audience were already atwitter about how Bordeaux’s director, Charles Jude, had already drunk from the fountain of both Lifar (therefore Diaghilev) and Nureyev (therefore everyone). We knew this matinee would serve up great goblets of more beautiful dancing.

This ballet is sooo Ballet Russes that it seems all about the sets and costumes and lights and music and philosophy and …you. The dance seems to just grow out of all this: I’d never seen the ballet before, but cannot imagine it existing in another way.

P1030074It’s incredibly hard to describe the atmosphere it creates. A bit cubist (those Ikea wings that — as you would expect, screw on, sort of, but don’t hold fast and then inspire your angry dance across the room — became Igor Yebra/Icare’s), a bit Expressionist (a gesticulating lost father like Lifar’s in the original Prodigal Son, but also a Daedalus awakened, Ludovic Dussarps, a Faust-like enabler, utterly “on”) and a bit of something other: graceful choral groups, male and female, all Art Deco curves and profiled angles. And all along, the music forcing you to bounce along in one-two-three-four (and other) phrasing. Boom cha che whoosh!

FAUN (Lifar/Debussy/who the hell did the decor?)

“Little golden objects that set lazy men to idle dreaming.” […] “Ah, you mean the stars?”

Le Faune Barberini (Glyptothek Munich)

Le Faune Barberini (Glyptothek Munich)

This version, carried forward from Nijinsky to Nijinska to Lifar, turns out to be a solo. Be gone the nymphs, me here, yo. So it’s the After That Afternoon, where I – Alvaro Rodriguez Piniera — lie about in my primitivo-naif rain forest décor and um, revisit that experience without even needing actual nymphs. Because, and that is what astonished me, a great artist can concentrate your mind into actually seeing what he sees. A split second hit where I started to feel inarticulately overwhelmed by the intensity of the mood he created alone out there. I thought, OK, sit up and quickly look around in order to make sure you are not insane. I saw: an entire audience, leaning forward, all sitting with mouths hanging open. I swear, it was a glimpse at a cave of bats hanging upside down! What an actor!

I’d always wondered what was so special about Nijinsky. Maybe here I finally caught a glimpse. Concentration, conviction, release with utter control. Where all lines and the smallest gestures confirmed a deeply-felt inner logic. Rodriguez Piniera made a guy in a spotted costume and gilded horned wig swooping around an abandoned scarf seem like the only way to go. A ballet that would always be modern. For what is otherworldly, if brought to life, can turn into an evident truth.

SUITE EN BLANC (Lifar/Lalo/well, yes, obviously no decor and arty costumes here)

“This is only his box. The sheep you asked for is inside.”

Everyone loves “Etudes.” But not enough people know this other ballet about ballet that held the stage in Paris before Harald Lander imported his masterpiece from Copenhagen. The best difference between these two roller-coasters which have no other story-line other than letting the audience in on just how high you can ride on technique? In Etudes you have a massively functioning corps de ballet and three stars. Yet all seem to be equally committed to one task: demonstrating how the struggle against one’s recalcitrant body leads to a larger kind of, ah that word again, inner perfection. In Lifar’s Suite en Blanc you have smaller groups and, by giving each one of them so much to do, he crafted each section into a constellation of stars each shedding its own light.

Nathan Fifield conducted the overture with such force and delicacy you could hear the stars and planets begin to twinkle as blown into place by the winds.

In swooping long tutus, Emilie Cerruti, Marie-Lys Navarro and Aline Bellardi, set the stage in the opening “Siesta”: softly romantic, powerfully in control, well-coordinated as a trio yet each individual never felt faceless (alas, I don’t know these dancers by heart yet, so I fear attributing attributes to the wrong name!)

Then Vanessa Feuillate wholeheartedly led Samuele Ninci and Ashley Whittle in a grand trio. All three played to the audience in a good way, with confident flair, utterly committed to the steps and without irony: let’s just hit this “invitation to the dance.” The audience, kind of still reeling after the “Faun,” responded. Delicate and precise, Mika Yoneyama then soothed us with her smoothly poised balances in the “Serenade.”

According to legend, one of the “baby ballerinas” of the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo – I think it was Tatiana Riabouchinska – used to take men’s class as well. I always am reminded of that when I see the relentless “Pas de cinq,” where one girl challenges four boys in echapés and cabrioles and sheer energy. And can do all the « girly » things, too. The score gets terribly bombastic here and can, if listlessly played as is wont in Paris, drag the poor dancers down. Here dance and music bounced merrily along together. Sara Renda, despite a tutu, definitely proved to be one of the boys. With her four impeccable partners, they even made this all look easy and fun, which is absurd. And enchanting.

All bourées and asymmetrically-timed-and-positioned passés and careful flutterings, “La Cigarette” (in the long-lost first stage version of this flute-filled music from 1866, Rita Sangalli waved one around) should create the impression that the soloist floats and never comes off pointe. I found the solo a bit too strongly danced by Oksana Kucheruk, the crowd-pleasing pirouettes almost harsh in execution (the “I’m now going to let my face go blank and nail this step” variety). Etude-y. This may have been one little moment when I actually missed the way Paris’s dancers can merge precision with sometimes too much chic and nonchalance. Later on, in “La Flûte,” I had the same impression: Kucheruk is an impressive technician with natural lines who can indeed do almost everything…except go a little easier on herself. A bit like the rose with four thorns. I kept wanting to tell her: « you’re fine! Don’t force it, don’t keep the mirror in your mind, just enjoy the steps, will you?! »

But, in the meantime, Roman Mikhalev had used the grand Mazurka to grant me a little wish: what if the Poet in “Les Sylphides” could have broken out of that droopy melancholy solo? He’s in a mosh pit of girls, for god’s sake! He’d think big and jeté and turn and leap all over the place, while never losing his dignity. Nice, bold, manly, tasty. In the Adage, Stéphanie Roublot and Oleg Rogachev at first seemed beautifully in-synch, yet then something went cold. That was a pity, because the great advantage Suite en Blanc has over Etudes is that it’s not about just getting it to work in an empty studio. It’s about negotiating dancing all together. Most of the choreography is given over to partnering and interacting and sharing the stage.

Yes, that’s the major difference between Etudes and Suite en Blanc: the first focuses on challenging the deep part that lurks in dancers’ minds – you facing the mirror, and that annoying person just in front of you at the barre, whose every perfection is pissing you off…the stuff audiences don’t really understand — the second on how the excellence of each rare idiosyncratic talent contributes to forming a real community. More than a challenge, this ballet remains an homage to every one on stage. You each face us sitting out there in the dark, but are not alone. Suite en Blanc recognizes that we are all in this together: you dancers, us in the audience, even the musicians in the pit (who actually cared to look back at the stage at the end and applaud…hello, Paris?)

“What is a rite?” asked the little prince. /”Those also are actions too often neglected, “ said the fox. “They are what make one day different from other days, one hour from other hours.”

I found these different days in Bordeaux and Toulouse. My eyes still hear golden peals of laughter.

[Just in case: all citations, and many bit of inspiration, came from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s « The Little Prince » from 1943, in its translation by Katherine Woods].

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