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By Patricia Boccadoro

PARIS, 29 AUGUST 2015 — Just two weeks before the opening of a mixed bill, Paul/Rigal/Lock, programmed by director Brigitte Lefèvre before her departure, a fourth piece was unexpectedly added to the programme, and happily it was. Benjamin Millepied’s Together Alone, a pas de deux originally created for Aurélie Dupont and Hervé Moreau for a charity performance in January, was a marvel of sensuality, fluidity and charm. Each movement flowed on naturally to the next and the dancers seemed to take as much pleasure in interpreting it as the audience in watching despite the fact that Dupont, divine, was partnered at the last moment by the young Marc Moreau after Hervé Moreau had been injured.

The ten minute duo of pure dance was the breath of fresh air which succeeded in making the rest of the programme much more enjoyable than it otherwise might have been. Millepied, director of the prestigious company since last November, is at his best in lyrical pas de deux, or duos as he prefers to call them, and this was no exception. Clad, American style, in jeans and T-shirts, and certainly inspired by Robbins, Dupont, luminous as ever, soared across the stage in a succession of slow-moving, graceful lifts, sensitively partnered by Moreau, a beautiful dancer himself.

Nicolas Paul: Répliques
Paris Opera Ballet

The evening had begun with the reprogramming of Répliques, choreographed for the company by Nicolas Paul in 2009, and set to a minimalist score by Ligeti with décor by Paul Andreu. It’s a dreamy, atmospheric work based on the idea of the double, and it questions the reflections in a mirror, the notion of the other side. Abstract and melancholic, it was admirably interpreted by 8 dancers led by Ludmila Pagliero, exquisite.

A surprise piece followed, created by Pierre Rigal, a young man who admits to knowing nothing about classical dance, and who, after a career as a high-flown athlete, a hurdler, ‘discovered’ dance at the age of almost 30. After dabbling in African dance, and more familiar with hip-hop and the circus, he spent time with such people as Wim Vandekeybus and Philippe Decouflé and began creating his own quirky, original pieces in 2003. With Salut, his first piece for the Paris Opéra Ballet, he chose to evoke the many forms of artists taking their bow at the close of a performance, a clever idea. "Salut" thus began brilliantly, with the loud, recorded sounds of an audience applauding lustily and lengthily 16 dancers who, such as robots, acknowledged the enthusiasm of unseen spectators. Moreover, the eye-catching costumes by Roy Gentry were most attractive; black tutus, white tutus, white tights for some, black tights for others. The lighting and lighting effects by Urs Schonebaum were spectacular.

Pierre Rigal: Salut
Paris Opera Ballet

However, after such an impressive beginning, where to go from there?
Seeing the dancers divesting themselves of their assorted outer garments and then running around the stage in varying stages of underwear which followed was tiresome, particularly as the score, by Joan Cambon, was not as effective as another choice might have been.  Dance as such was absent and one can only reason that the work might have been better appreciated in another setting. Rigal comes from theatre and films; he’s not a choreographer, but it was non-the-less fascinating to see what he could do with the dancers. The piece, at 38 minutes, went on too long.

The evening closed with Edouard Lock’s strange AndréAuria, a piece created for the company in 2002 and hard for many to appreciate. However, one was mesmerized by the quality of movement of Alice Renavand, and hypnotized by the supersonic performances of Mathias Heymann and  Stéphane Bullion as well as by Germain Louvet,  Josua Hoffalt and Simon Valastro, all male dancers accomplishing the quasi impossible.

Edouard Lock’: AndréAuria
Paris Opara Ballet

But the Canadian choreographer has little consideration for dancers in general, forcing them to take perilous physical risks and obliging them to move more swiftly than sound. Set to the minimalist sounds of David Lang, it is a coldly abstract piece demonstrating incredible technical prowess, but one can’t help feeling that these superb dancers deserve better.

Based in Paris,  Patricia Boccadoro is the dance editor for Culturekiosque.


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