By Patricia Boccadoro
PARIS, 21 JUNE 2016 The evening
Ratmansky/Balanchine/Robbins/Peck proved to be a pleasant enough
programme of dance despite its unevenness and repetitive nature. After the
explosion of Tcherniakovs
Iolantha/Casse-Noisette, it was easy on the eye and the
emotions. Four works were presented including Ratmanskys Seven
Sonatas, new to the repertoire, but which was created for American
Ballet Theater. It was followed by Balanchines Duo Concertant
and Justin Pecks In Creases, both created for New York City
Ballet, as well as Other Dances, Robbins creation at the
Metropolitan Opera House of New York for Baryshnikov and Makarova,
subsequently taken into the repertoire of New York City Ballet. In short,
it could have been considered as a tribute to the American school of
dance, excepting that Millepied had already done that in his opening
Alexei Ratmanskys Seven Sonatas was set to seven harpsichord
sonatas that the Russian choreographer, currently resident choreographer
of American Ballet Theater, had chosen out of the 555 composed by Domenico
Scarlatti in the 18th century. Indeed, the piece, a moment of pure dance
for three couples started off very well indeed but the moment went on a
little too long as halfway through ones attention was distracted by Holly
Hynes ravishing costumes. Together with pianist Elena Bonnays elegant
playing, the musician herself being one of the stars of the evening, they
stole attention away from the dance.
The girls wore exquisite, knee length dresses, all in white and
seemingly alike, but on closer inspection one could see from behind that
one girl had a dainty edging of lace around her neck. The second had
delicate shoulder straps in a square while the third girls dress dipped
lower over her shoulders in a V shape. They were complemented by the
costumes of the men, also attractively attired in white, and all different
at the front.
The work, without décor or narrative, was a dialogue between dance and
the score where the only demand on the dancers was an impeccable
musicality. But it was under-cast, without a single étoile to raise the
level and create some interest.
Paris Opera Ballet
The audience was woken up to Robbins brilliant Other Dances,
a new and welcome addition to the companys repertoire. Danced to four
mazurkas and a waltz by Chopin, it is a tricky but playful duet for two
virtuoso dancers and the interpretion by étoiles Matthieu Ganio
and Amandine Albisson, was both lyrical and poetical, but the moment of
respite was far too short.
Balanchines Duo Concertant may be a new addition to the
repertoire, but choreographically speaking, it is not one of
Balanchines major works and oddly cast it proved disappointing.
Karl Paquette and Eléonore Guérineau formed a most unlikely couple.
Guérineau, petite and highly expressive, is far from being a cool,
long-legged Balanchinian beauty while Paquette, who towered above her, had
his mind on other things. And after the inspired playing of the Scarlatti
piece, the Stravinsky score interpreted by Jean-Yves Sébillotte
accompanied by Karin Ato on the violin, was labored.
Consequently, the work, In Creases by the young American,
Justin Peck, invited for the first time to the Paris Opera, came as a
revelation. The title itself is a play on words between the verb, to
increase, and the words in crisis.. The choreographer plays with the
differing configurations of four men and four women who form precise
kaleidoscopic figures. Refreshing, energetic, and athletic, it was
danced to the accompaniment of two pianos on stage playing a score by
One could tell that there was an affiliation with Balanchine and
Robbins, but it was by no means a rehash, being both quirky and original.
While there were yet again no étoiles in evidence, it was led by
a Vincent Chaillot in excellent form, and four women, galvanized by the
scintillating presence of the recently promoted première
The programme, however, clearly indicated Benjamin Millepieds
intention to steer the Paris company towards U.S. neo-classicism,
presenting pieces that American dancers know and dance well. Such
works could have been danced by any number of good, classically trained
companies throughout the world.
Patricia Boccadoro writes on dance in Europe. She has
contributed to The Guardian, The Observer and Dancing Times and was dance
consultant to the BBC Omnibus documentary on Rudolf Nureyev. Based in
Paris, Patricia Boccadoro is the dance editor for