Saturday May 18th - finally managed to get round to see the Stravinsky triple bill on at Garnier.
For this writer, it was actually a double bill, because Pina Bausch and I do not mix. That woman is a plague on all opera houses, her choreography is a disgrace, and I refuse to see anyone, let alone some of the world's leading theatrical artists, rolling about starkers in the mud.
She's got her own theatre and captive audience, at Wuppertal, in which to exhibit her peculiarly unhealthy self-indulgence, and I think that's more than enough public subsidy for anyone with so paltry a talent.
On to Dunn. Dear Brigitte Lefevre, PLEASE ! You've got the Rolls Royce of dancers at your beck and call. PLEASE stop turning the POB into an annex of the Bobigny Break Dance studio for delinquent minors.
This particular piece of inconsequence was "choreographed" (again, why dignify it with that word ?) in the early 1980s, at the height of Thatcherism I suppose. It was a bad enough era. And cannot we be allowed to forget it ?
Some first-class dancing though from Laetitia Pujol, who seemed absolutely liberated, and from a person whom I believe was Simone Valastro (fellow with a shock of very frizzy hair - could someone enlighten me ? ). Also noticed Lise-Marie Jourdain, the tiniest girl in the troupe, who is a very amusing, witty dancer one would like to see more of. Everyone else was wearing a sign, written in Invisible Ink, on the back of their heads: WHY ARE WE HERE ?
On to Balanchine, my enemy. Cannot stand the stuff, but I have to say that Aurélie Dupont in Aria Two was, as always, marvellous, not to speak of Stéphane Phavorin who simply flew through the airs. Why he is not cast more is a complete mystery.
Mlle. Dupont's turns are so stable, so perfectly centred on axis, that you could set a china cup on her head, and the tea would not spill. She is a great audience favourite, and one can see why: not only is she jaw-droppingly pretty, and the only female principal in the world today who is, shall we say, curvaceous, but her warm, friendly personality manages to make even Balanchine seem remotely human.
It is interesting to see the intelligence with which she has developed her musculature and technique. Her full, strong arms are completely supported from powerful flank muscles, they "come up" from the sides, rather than dangling from the shoulder. The small muscles on the inside of the leg are fully developed, the leg is REALLY turned out "from inside and under" so the thrust in beats is effortless. Year by year, month by month, her technique IMPROVES, and the musicality as well. This woman is a worker, and it shows. And, may I add, she does NOT pick up the leg.
The comparison with the étoile Mlle. Letestu, who danced Aria One, is always unfortunate and should not, perhaps, be dwelt upon. Suffice it to say that it is no doubt too late in her career for her to develop épaulement, but the upper back has now collapsed, it is both totally rigid, and slumped. The woman needs help, the more so, as she is almost six-foot tall and the attrition on so "centrifugal" a structure is enormous. Such is the bankruptcy of that particular approach to technique, much favoured at the POB school in the 1980s. If we are to judge by such amazing new graduates as Mlle. Ould Braham, the tide would appear to have turned.