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By Patricia Boccadoro

PARIS, 14 FEBRUARY 2011 — Some time ago, the evenings, Dancers / choreographers, where members of the Paris Opera Ballet  presented their own experimental works, were held every two years, but this time the general public as well as the artists themselves have had to wait over four years.

It is always a privilege to see such a programme, not only to see budding young choreographers testing out their ideas in public and enjoying the fun of directing their own works in a more intimate setting, but also for the pleasure of seeing these superb young dancers at close quarters, including newcomers one might otherwise not have noticed as well as a sprinkling of the étoiles. In January, ten solos, duos, and pieces for small groups were presented and danced by members of the company.

The evening opened on a most enjoyable note with a composition, El Fuego de la Pasion by Allister Madin, actually sujet, who created and tangoed his own piece with the cooperation of Caroline Bance, a strong character and contemporary dancer. Late one night, an elegant young girl arrives alone in a bar. A man is watching her. They dance, but is it for real, or are they dreaming? Whatever, it was thoroughly entertaining and the interpretation superb.

Caroline Bance in Allister Madin's El Fuego de la Pasion
Photo: courtesy of Ballet de l'Opéra national de Paris

An interesting creation showing much promise for the future was presented by Florent Melac, who joined the company last year. A lot of research had gone into his abstract piece, Melancholia Splenica, set to a recorded score by Deru and  Alva Noto +Ryuichi Sakamoto and which was splendidly interpreted by Charlotte Ranson, Silvia-Cristel Saint-Martin, Julien Meyzindi and Maxime Thomas. A previous piece, A corps, essence was created in Canada for the 50th anniversary of the Ballet School of Toronto, and subsequently presented at the Paris school’s Demonstrations de l'Ecole de Danse in 2009, as well as by John Cranko’s school in Stuttgart last summer. No mean achievement for a 15 year old whose only comment was that his choreography was always guided by the sensation of movement and music.

Florent Melac: Melancholia Splenica
Photo: courtesy of Ballet de l'Opéra national de Paris

Possibly the most delightful work shown was Le Préssentiment du vide, a solo by Lydie Vareilhes who should be congratulated on her choice of Letizia Galloni as interpreter. Galloni, a very young and new member of the corps de ballet, succeeded in conveying her isolation from the rest of mankind and allowed her audience to perceive her vision of another world. Light and graceful, she took over the stage bringing with her a distinct atmosphere of solitude. The piece, which began with the noise of a train, and with used tickets blowing in the wind, continued with music from Katelyn Duty and culminated with Johann Sebastian Bach’s Gigue as she finally confronted reality.

Letizia Galloni in Lydie Vareilhes' Le Préssentiment du vide
Photo: courtesy of Ballet de l'Opéra national de Paris

Apart from the amusing and original piece, Me 2 by Samuel Murez, (Why did he not present something new?), there was little else of choreographic interest. But the rest of the programme did present several of the more interesting younger dancers, including Daniel Stokes, excellent in Sebastien Bertaud’s Fugitif, and Juliette Hilaire, who, with her delicate physique and expressive little face was partnered by Alexander Gasse in Nocturne, a tough piece to interpret by Nans Pierson, albeit set to Chopin. The couple, isolated in the universe, were obliged to dance with gas masks covering their faces. Brother and sister, Marine and Mathieu Ganio, interpreted Prés de Toi, by Myriam Kamionka, a work which was not without charm, and it was left to Beatrice Martell to produce a Grand Finale.

Martell’s Ça Tourne a l’amphi, a rousing piece for 11 interpreters had the great advantage of being set to extracts from Carla Bruni’s album, Quelqu’un m’a dit. Despite knowing people who have banished her recordings from their shelves, the least one can say is that her catchy tunes are melodious and extremely danceable, so the choreographer, given a solid musical base and superb interpreters, set off with a distinct advantage. The presence, however of such personalities as Isabelle Ciaravola, Lionel Delanoe and up-and-coming Amandine Albisson did little to dissipate the paucity of her ideas. Something, somewhere, didn’t click, for this was one of the poorest of her many pieces. But no matter, the dancers enjoyed playing around and the audience, in an excellent mood and easily pleased, were not there to judge.

Patricia Boccadoro writes on dance in Europe. She contributed to The Guardian, The Observer and Dancing Times and was dance consultant to the BBC Omnibus documentary on Rudolf Nureyev. Ms. Boccadoro is the dance editor for Culturekiosque.

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