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Subject: "Paris Opera School - La Fille Mal Gardée" Archived thread - Read only
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katharine kanter

17-04-02, 11:56 AM (GMT)
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"Paris Opera School - La Fille Mal Gardée"
   (with excuses to Ballet Alert for posting this here as well)

Saturday night, April 13th, La Fille Mal Gardée (choreo. Claude Bessy, based on a Dmitrii Roumanoff version from 1972), and Western Symphony (Balanchine).

The performance served to confirm what the entire world already knows: were dancing only in the legs and feet, the rest of the world's schools could pack up and leave for the Bahamas, because there is nothing, anywhere, like the footwork of the POB School.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately for our art form, there are one or two other minor details that count, such as épaulement.

The Roumanoff-Bessy choreography for La Fille Mal Gardée is feeble, but the subject is of course perfect for children between the ages of 14 to 16. There are a great many steps, all admirably executed by these outstanding youths and girls, bearing in mind that they have been taught in an épaulement-free zone and cannot be blamed for what they do not know - although the youths are noticeably better in this respect, than the girls.

Many of the steps, seen at foot-level, are those of the early 19th Century. Therefore, going by the book, they should, seen at eye-level, look like Bournonville. But fear not ! They don't ! All one has to do is eliminate épaulement, and the trick is turned !

One cannot fault the lovely little girl dancing La Fille, Mathilde Froustey. Although, physically, she is one of the School's little clones (pinhead, etiolated limbs etc.), she is a calm, clear-headed child, plays with the music, and is clearly remarkably talented. To boot, she has had excellent instruction in mime. The mime scene with the Mother, danced by the adorable étoile Carole Arbo, opening Act II, was the prettiest thing in the ballet.

The sixteen-year old has apparently already been accepted into the POB for the next season, and who could blame them ! Her Suitor, Vincent Chaillet was terribly weak. It may have been nerves, and the less criticism levelled at children of that age, the better.

Maxime Thomas, dancing the madman Colas, was excellent, although he had been instructed to open his mouth and gape in the midst of difficult jumps, ALWAYS a mistake.

In order to avoid an outbreak of intense hostility on this board, I shall refrain from commenting in detail on "Western Symphony". Suffice it to say that I beg to differ with Mlle. Bessy's choice of ballet for child-dancers. I do not believe that 13 to 16 year-olds should be playing Hooker and Client in a Saloon, with the girls demonstrating peculiar specialities in ways that may not be obvious to those in the audience who, to put it delicately, have had little commerce with the opposite sex. Such as the cheering five and six year-olds come to watch their brothers and sisters on stage.

But that's Balanchine !


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Paris Opera School - La Fille Mal Gardée Viviane 19-04-02 1
     RE: Paris Opera School - La Fille Mal Gardée AnnWilliams 19-04-02 2

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19-04-02, 09:16 AM (GMT)
Click to EMail Viviane Click to send private message to Viviane Click to view user profileClick to add this user to your buddy list  
1. "RE: Paris Opera School - La Fille Mal Gardée"
In response to message #0
   LAST EDITED ON 19-04-02 AT 09:22 AM (GMT)

Ecole de danse, Ballet de l'Opéra National de Paris.
Saturday, April 13th, matinée performance.

November last year (yes, 6 months ago !) I booked a ticket -a bit out of frustration- because I couldn't get any ticket to see the annual 'démonstrations de l'école'.
And so, on Saturday, I travelled to Paris to see the future in ballet...useless to tell : it was worth the effort !

What a delight to be -once again- in a busy Garnier ... filled this time with excited children, proud parents and grandparents. On the tunes of the preparing orchestra, a heartrending event : a ragdoll felt down from the amphi..., the tip-up seats sustained the tests again... only the dimming of the lights could stop the crescendo noise

Like most of precedent years, the school decided to show us 'two faces' : this time we were offered the classical "La Fille Mal Gardée" and the neo-classical "Western Symphony".
I'm a bit reticent about sharing my thoughts on a schoolperformance...so, excuse me if my comments remind of 'walking on eggs'.

It's a long time I saw 'La Fille' and have to say this one-act choreography -with lots of mime-parts-by Mme Bessy, inspired on the version of Dimitri Romanoff, is tailored for a schoolperformance.
The opening-tableau, with the half-opened barndoor crowned with a draped, pink "La fille mal gardée"-banner took us all way back in history....and what a relief : complete silence in the audience !
The enthusiasm and the abundance of superbly trained young dancers was a feast to the eye.
The three different 'tableaux' were enchanted by a colourfull scenery.
Marie-Laetitia Diederichs was a joyfull, expressive Lise, who tackled the important role with ease and youthfull dedication. Her Colas (Josua Hoffalt) was (most of the time) an attentive partner with great potential.
But -to me- the revelation of the performance was Mehdi Angot as Alain.
The character of Alain, a very welcome comic note to all the children, was introduced during a restaging of the ballet by Bronislava Nijinska in 1940. (I read in the interesting programme-notes)
The young, immature and spoiled Alain has more interest in chasing butterflies than courtesing Lise.
When he invaded the stage with his funny capers he was immediately the children's favourite.
Mehdi was the perfect cast for the dolled-up Alain.
A schoolexemple of the French mesmerizing feets and legs, an energetic, amazing quick dancer, with an astonishing capacity for acting....do we need more ???
And how can I forget about Mère Simone ?! What a treat to see Carole Arbo back on stage, in a character role this time.
A 70 minutes ballet-feast without interval., with twirling skirts in the immaculate ensemble-dancing by the friends and peasants, radiant faces and a striking dedication for details - a bit long for some of the children in the audience- but I have loved every minute of it !

And maybe you're now thinking 'that's it' ? I truly wished it was, and I wasn't alone with this thought, even my neighbour and several other spectators didn't showed up after the interval.
I can only agree completely with Katharine : Balanchine's "Western Symphony"is not appropriate for a performance by youngsters.
Maybe it has something to do with my education : I had already nightmares when I heard that my daughter had to dance on stage in fishnet-tights, mini-shorts, white shirt and black tie some weeks ago !
The girls, dressed up in pink/black mini-tutu with dito feathers on the head, black tights and dito pointes, fingerless-gloves in black lace, the boys in the common cowboy-outfit. I'm sure the French are looking in a different way at this, but I for one couldn't push aside reminiscent thoughts of Moulin Rouge and other similar establishments.
I agree the school needed another 'showcase' alongside a ballet as "La fille mal gardée", that has only a few roles to give the opportunity for dancers to shine.
Apart from being not mature enough to tackle this revue-like choreography and some slight problems with the demanding tempi , the students did a good job, with fine highlights by the leading couples. The delicate Laurène Lévy made a good impression and good to see the talented Josua Hoffalt again in a role he seemed more at ease.
Emilie Hasboun in 'Rondo - with the impressive hat- (reminding Tanaquil LeClercq in that role) was simply stunning.
A sparkling finale enchanted the audience ... who encouraged the dancers with an endless applause ...

"Bravi" to all the young dancers,"hat-off" for the superb training and coaching ....
....please give them all the time to grow and mature slowly ..and the future will be bright

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19-04-02, 11:42 AM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Paris Opera School - La Fille Mal Gardée"
In response to message #1
   What a lovely, touching review. Thank you, Viviane.

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