On a balmy night following a scorching hot day in L.A. came an historical event at the Hollywood Bowl; Gustavo Dudamel’s L.A. Phil welcomed the Paris Opera Ballet (POB) under the astute Artistic Direction of Aurelie Dupont, exquisite former POB ballerina. For grateful ballet fans, there could have been nothing more important than welcoming Louis XIV’s legacy with its refreshing artistry and technical brilliance this July 20, 2022 night.
Dudamel’s love of dance was clarified with his clear respect, care and finesse for tempi, that is part of the life blood of dance. It was an intoxicating melding of movement and melody and a reminder of the esprit de corps it takes to make art.
The program was a pastiche of form and style beginning with “Grand Pas Classique” (choreography by Victor Gsovsky, music by Daniel-Francois Auber ), performed by Valentine Colesante and Marc Moreau. Both dancers were examples of elegance and technical prowess POB is known for. Moreau’s lightening brisé volés and ballon were only the beginning of the excitement of the evening. In this evening at the Bowl, each piece had gifts of exceptional work. Yet there were several pieces that stood out as extraordinary and seemed to haunt ones spirit at evenings end.
Angelin Preljocaj’s Pas de deux from Le Parc, with the agonizingly beautiful Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 23 II Adagio played by the artistic craftmanship of Jean-Ives Thibaudet, Guest Artist who graced us with his playing throughout this evening. This piece was so intimate and moving when performed by Laura Hecquet and Germain Louvet that one wanted it to never end. Hecquet’s folding through and under Louvet’s arms and body was not just movement but was a physical love song. Such beautiful fascinating work climaxed in a long embrace. Her arms around his neck, body outstretched and clinging to this moment. His arms reaching out as they began to spin, turning what seemed like forever, in a kiss that will last in our memories.
Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake Pas de deux from Act II, has been performed thousands of times, but not nearly at this pace. Dudamel’s orchestra, Rudolf Nureyev’s choreography and the dancers See Eun Park and Paul Marque, found and stretched the tempi that then made room and filled the piece with incomparable artistry. Park’s sensitivity and musicality with Marque’s excellent partnering opened new doors to the Tchaikovsky war horse. This slower paced delicate and ethereal version introduced a new paradigm; the desire to actually feel the need of the Swan for the Prince. This stunning work was only one part of the artists palate for the evening, but an exquisite one.
Prior to the Intermission was Sharon Eyal’s, Faunes to Debussy “Afternoon of a Faun.” Eyal is a product of the Batsheva Dance Company, part of Ohad Naharin’s Gaga revolution. This was a delicate work with dancers Marion Barbeau, Caroline Osmont, Nine Seropian, Marion Gautier de Charnacé, Héloïse Jocqueviel, Simon Le Borgne, Yvon Demo, Antonin Monié appearing almost as ghosts in their exploration. The characterizations and staging interesting and subtle yet often stagnant and sometimes without focus. There was an element of indulgence in attempts at a mood, a message.
The great Michael Fokine’s “La Mort du cygnet” (The Dying Swan) originally created for Anna Pavlova, the great early twentieth century ballerina, was capably interpreted by Dorothée Gilbert. The heartrending music played by Thibaudet (Piano) and Robert deMaine (Cello) was moving on its own.
The remarkable and prolific genius of Hans van Manen, choreographer of “Trois Gnossiennes,” with music by Erik Satie, played by Thibaudet, is a melding of ballet, contemporary and every day pedestrian movement. This piece is a unification and breadth of dancer-interpreters, Ludmila Pagliero and Florian Magnenet. They move as one, at times breaking the lines of a lyrical arabesque or attitude into an unexpected angular position of foot or arm. The element of surprise makes this a thrilling and creative feast. They seem to defy gravity in using ordinary every-day positions, sitting, standing, leaning. Pagliero and Magnenet know each other’s bodies in only the way time, sensitivity and work allows. The piece was mesmerizing and thrilling. The creative surprises made it breathtakingly memorable.
“Clair de lune” played by Thibaudet, choreographed by Alastair Marriott introduced the brilliant, danseur étoile, Germain Louvet whose technical prowess, musicality and ability reached out and clearly brought the audience to him. In his deep orange paneled dodi, he mesmerized and controlled the large space of the Hollywood Bowl with a mark of confident dynamic artistry that thrilled and stirred the audience.
Never wanting this evening to end yet, it did, with William Forsythe’s frolicsome, “The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude.” A technical, rapid moving feast of dance, to Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 9 in C major exposed the precise and rigorous dance brilliance of Pablo Legassa and Paul Marque that is identifiable as the dancers from the Paris Opera Ballet. Joined by the iconic chartreuse green pancake tutu-ed dancers were Valentine Colasante, Marine Ganio, Hanna O’Neill, who leaped into view with their joyous and difficult range of movement, multiple turns, leaps, pliés on pointe in second position, all at lightning speed. This was a perfect fest to end this very special gift of dance. Hopefully, it will be just the first in a series for this company’s visits to L.A. Thank you Gustavo Dudamel and Renae Williams Niles for your help in procuring POB. We need to see and feel more of their inspirational elan and artistry. Thank you L.A Philharmonic and The Paris Opera Ballet. Your work is a feast for the soul.
To learn more about LA Phil, please visit their website.
To read more about the Paris Opera Ballet, please visit their website.
To learn more about the Hollywood Bowl, please visit their website.
Written by Joanne DiVito for LA Dance Chronicle.
Featured image: Paris Opera Ballet – “Faunes” by Sharon Eyal – Photo by Farah Sosa provided courtesy of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association