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Subject: "Review: Bejart Ballet Lausanne, Sadler's Wells" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Bruce Madmin

24-09-00, 09:19 PM (GMT)
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"Review: Bejart Ballet Lausanne, Sadler's Wells"
 
   Company: Bejart Ballet Lausanne
What: Seven Greek Dances, Adagietto, Elton - Berg, Bolero

Where: London, Sadler's Wells
When: 21 September 2000


In short...
Maurice Bejart brings over a mixed repertoire that turns out to be rather more enjoyable than what we saw of his work in the 1990's. He particularly emphasises the male dancer and if you like bare chests and long hair this would be an especially fine night for you...


Background
I approach a Bejart show with very mixed emotions. Come to think of it they are not really mixed... I just have uniform and incredibly low expectations re enjoyment. It's well known now that Bejart is not so liked in the UK while much feted in continental Europe. And apparently it's not a feting by critics - he has commanded huge audiences of 'ordinary people' for his shows.

I've only seen his company a couple of times - both times in the old Sadler's Wells and on each occasion pieces were presented which have gone into my all time worst ever list. Uniquely his work occupies 2 of the 3 worst slots. On the other hand I remember Bolero with more than a little affection and surely there must be more to the company and its Artistic Director than I recall from the last visits. Surely there must?!

Bejart is here with 2 programmes, the first of which features Bolero, and Sylvie Guillem herself is due to perform the lead on Sunday and Monday (24/25th September). Joining Bolero are 3 other works of various vintages and styles.


Seven Greek Dances
A charmingly accessible piece to traditional Greek musical themes by Mikis Theodorakis. Ballet based, it echoes and parodies, in the nicest sense, traditional dance. The only incongruous thing is that the girls are all in black leotards as if for a piece of Balanchine. This being Bejart, the boys are all stripped to the waist, though they do get white sailors' trousers, which is slightly more in keeping. It was a joyous work that skipped along, in tone similar to a piece of Mark Morris (though of course Bejart has been at it rather longer and would make the comparison the other way). With choreography like this it's easy to see how Bejart connects with people - not at all pretentious or silly! Solid 'Classic FM' ballet I think.


Adagietto
To Mahler this is a solo from a longer piece emphasizing Bejart's 'Ballet is boys' view. A serious, emotional piece, full of anguish at times, and danced competently and with passion by Gil Roman. Fine enough but hard to put in context.


Elton - Berg
The same choreography danced first to Alban Berg and then to some Elton John (Nikita) - one 'heavy' and one not. Surprise, surprise the dance looks different depending on the musical context, and I felt a headache coming on as Bejart also had one of the four dancers on stage do nothing but pose this way and that in a large red picture frame. Now this was the Bejart I remembered and my spirit sank rapidly. This is the type of piece you get from dancers having a bash at a choreographic workshop for the first time. Actually it wasn't quite that bad in movement terms, but Bejart loses marks because he really should know better.


Bolero
Always a crowd pleaser in which a solitary table dancer teases and whips up 36 men into a hypnotic frenzy that culminates in them all making a desperate lunge for her (or him). I've seen it a few times in the past, always I think with Sylvie Guillem as the lead. On Thursday it was Elisabet Ros, a strikingly tall dancer who wound up the men well enough, though Guillem takes command of situations like no other and I hope to see her dance it again this time. The Bejart boys with their tanned bodies, defined muscles, long hair and above all 'attitude' respond with panting, sweaty, lust - great stuff, if such an oddball piece overall. Big applause, Bejart comes out for a bow and some in the audience even stand....


Does it work?
Best night of Bejart I've ever been to... but we were starting from a desperately low base of course. But it's nice to see a programme that is reasonably balanced and for the most part accessible and unpretentious. I await the second programme with interest - Bejart certainly has a capacity to surprise.


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Review: Bejart Ballet Lausanne, Sadler's Wells Lynette H 26-09-00 1
     Bejart Ballet Lausanne on the 30th? Stephanie Wragg 26-09-00 2
         RE: Bejart Ballet Lausanne on the 30th? Estelle 26-09-00 3
             Bejart Ballet Lausanne Stephanie Wragg 27-09-00 6
                 RE: Bejart Ballet Lausanne alison 27-09-00 7
                     RE: Bejart Ballet Lausanne Estelle 27-09-00 8
                         Dance plots Stephanie Wragg 27-09-00 9
     RE: Review: Bejart Ballet Lausanne, Sadler's Wells A.K 30-09-00 10
         RE: Review: Bejart Ballet Lausanne, Sadler's Wells Bruce Madmin 30-09-00 11
  RE: Review: Bejart Ballet Lausanne, Sadler's Wells cmatchett 26-09-00 4
     RE: Review: Bejart Ballet Lausanne, Sadler's Wells jayne 26-09-00 5
         RE: Review: Bejart Ballet Lausanne, Sadler's Wells Guido 04-10-00 12

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Lynette H

26-09-00, 02:10 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Review: Bejart Ballet Lausanne, Sadler's Wells"
In response to message #0
 
   A few further thoughts on Bejart. I saw the performance on the evening of Saturday 23rd. I hadnít seen the company before, though they did come over here a few years back, I think, though Iíd certainly heard plenty.

I had a quick look through the programme - it contained a lot of notes by M. Bejart: after going through some of these I thought Iíd prefer just to skip these and just watch. Disappointingly, the programme (pricey at five pounds) contained nothing at all about the dancers themselves (apart from Guillem, who wasnít appearing that night). A shame - the dancers were a very handsome and polished group, and it would be interesting to know how many came from Bejartís own school , or elsewhere. Fourteen female and twenty male dancers are listed as making up the company - an odd balance of the sexes for most companies. The men were supplemented by an extra eighteen recruits for Bolero (and I must say the extras looked notably less toned, and less poised). There was no information about where these had come from - Iíd be interested to know.

Seven Greek Dances, which opened the proceedings, passed the time agreeably enough, and showed off the bare-chested men well. It didnít particularly strike me as a ballet performance, even though there was some token use of pointe shoes for the women, but more of a dance performance. (The audience, too, looked more like the usual Sadlerís dance audience than a ballet audience - but with a lot of French being spoken in the intervals).

I had a much more difficult time with the second item, Adagietto. The audience really liked this piece, and the dancer, Gil Roman, is obviously talented. But I just experienced one of those complete communications failures .....something was going on, on stage, with a man looking anguished and a chair, but it was going straight past me. Sorry. My mind kept wandering off and I just couldnít connect in to all that angst.

The idea of the Elton-Berg piece sounds interesting enough - repeat the same choreography to two completely different pieces of music and see how different it looks. Yes, it did look different - the Elton John made it look rather tacky. Elisabet Ros looked an interesting dancer though - the only woman to get much of a chance to shine that evening.

Bolero this evening was an all-male affair, with Octavio Stanley in the lead. Again, very popular with the audience, several of whom got to their feet at the end. I think Iíd have preferred a woman in the lead role: Stanley seemed technically very able, but there wasnít much sense of engagement somehow.


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Stephanie Wragg

26-09-00, 03:19 PM (GMT)
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2. "Bejart Ballet Lausanne on the 30th?"
In response to message #1
 
   Any ballet.coers attending the September 30th evening performance? or anyone seeing "Ballet for life"?

I was just looking at the company website (www.bejart.ch) and saw the original title for this 1997 ballet:

Le PresbytŤre n'a rien perdu de son charme, ni le jardin
de son ťclat

Wow, what a premise.


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Estelle

26-09-00, 03:42 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Bejart Ballet Lausanne on the 30th?"
In response to message #2
 
   Stephanie, that odd sentence hasn't been made up by Bejart, it is a well known sentence (from Gaston Leroux, I think).

I saw "Seven Greek dances" last spring, at the performance of the Paris Opera Ballet school. Not a great work in my opinion, but rather pleasant to watch (and at least there are no bizarre texts or pseudo-philosophy...)

I only saw "Adagietto" on video. It was danced by Jorge Donn (I think he was the creator of the role), and I found him quite powerful in that role.


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Stephanie Wragg

27-09-00, 09:45 AM (GMT)
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6. "Bejart Ballet Lausanne"
In response to message #3
 
   >Stephanie, that odd sentence hasn't been
>made up by Bejart, it
>is a well known sentence
>(from Gaston Leroux, I think).
**I figured it was extracted from some litterary work, does anyone know what it could be from? Why does Gaston Leroux sound familiar?


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alison

27-09-00, 01:05 PM (GMT)
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7. "RE: Bejart Ballet Lausanne"
In response to message #6
 
   'Cos he wrote Phantom of the Opera? (unless my memory's playing tricks on me).


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Estelle

27-09-00, 04:36 PM (GMT)
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8. "RE: Bejart Ballet Lausanne"
In response to message #7
 
   >'Cos he wrote Phantom of the
>Opera? (unless my memory's playing
>tricks on me).


Yes indeed. He also wrote some other books (mystery novels) such as "Le mystere de la chambre jaune" or "Le parfum de la dame en noir" which were quite famous in France.


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Stephanie Wragg

27-09-00, 04:40 PM (GMT)
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9. "Dance plots"
In response to message #8
 
  
>Yes indeed. He also wrote some
>other books (mystery novels) such
>as "Le mystere de la
>chambre jaune" or "Le parfum
>de la dame en noir"
>which were quite famous in
>France.

**these books sound like great librettos for ballet....from the title anyway.


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A.K

30-09-00, 07:41 AM (GMT)
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10. "RE: Review: Bejart Ballet Lausanne, Sadler's Wells"
In response to message #1
 
   Bruce as far as I can make out this review seems to have got onto the Rambert page instead of your review of their performance in Salford.


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Bruce Madmin

30-09-00, 08:28 AM (GMT)
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11. "RE: Review: Bejart Ballet Lausanne, Sadler's Wells"
In response to message #10
 
   Silly me - will fix in database later. The correct Rambert URL is:

http://www.ballet.co.uk/magazines/yr_00/oct00/bm_rev_rambert_0900.htm


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cmatchett

26-09-00, 05:58 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Review: Bejart Ballet Lausanne, Sadler's Wells"
In response to message #0
 
   I was very lucky to see the Sunday 24th performance with Sylvie Guillem. Not being a ballet person myself (my girlfriend is however) I can only appreciate this kind of thing on a wonder or gut-feeling. But still I found the program very enjoyable.

7 Greek Dances I feel blended aspects of greek dance and ballet very well.

The Overcoat was enjoyable too but felt a bit like pantomine at times.

I didn't like Elton - Berg at all. I didn't feel that the performance was any different to pop music. I'm not sure what Bejart wanted to achieve. But seeing as I didn't enjoy the dance to the original music then maybe it was too late by then for the 2nd half to have any positive impact. I found it very static.

Bolero was amazing. While I've enjoyed ballet in the past this was the first time that I've left the theatre dying to run back in and watch the performance again. I understand that this piece is often performed by a male lead. In my eyes a female lead adds a charged (hetero) sexuality and even balance. And Sylvie was faultless, gracefull and stunning.

I'm now going to buy my first ballet video (Bejart's Art in the 20th C).

Recommended.


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jayne

26-09-00, 09:38 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: Review: Bejart Ballet Lausanne, Sadler's Wells"
In response to message #4
 
   How I loved the Bejart program, every moment of it, now I must have some Bejart videos, I am willing to exchange, I have have many videos, I wond


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Guido

04-10-00, 09:54 PM (GMT)
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12. "RE: Review: Bejart Ballet Lausanne, Sadler's Wells"
In response to message #5
 
   Jayne, may I contact you at your e-mail address?
Mine is gudon@tin.it


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