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Results of the POB annual competition (Dec 28, 2001)


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#1 Estelle

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Posted 03 January 2002 - 08:09 AM

Here are the results of the last POB competition:

-promoted from quadrille to coryphée:
Myriam Ould-Braham (19)
Grégory Gaillard (21)

-promoted from coryphée to sujet:
Emilie Cozette (20) and Laurence Laffon (23)
Mallory Gaudion (24)

-promoted from sujet to première danseuse:
Nolwenn Daniel (28)

There was another available position of première danseuse, but nobody was promoted. This year, there was no available position of premier danseur.

#2 Terry

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Posted 03 January 2002 - 09:56 AM

It was great to see the concours -- something that I would have never been able to see in the US. The POB standard of classical ballet is amazingly high; I can´t think of any other company which has this high of a caliber in the classics, particulary amongst the men. I couldn´t feel much of a difference in the standards between the quadrille men and coryphe men at all!! I also liked very much Dorothee Gilbert (18yo) in the quadrille division, who unfortunately could not make it to the corphyee division, having ended up in the 2nd place, but with her talent, I am sure she will make it next year. It was unfortunate not to have been able to see the sujet mens this year -- I think Emmanuel Thibault and Alessio Carbone both deserve to be premiers danseurs already. That´s about it for now. Did anyone else see the concours?

#3 Alexandra

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Posted 03 January 2002 - 10:40 AM

Thank you for posting that, Estelle. As Giannina would say, green, green, green!!

Terry! Good to see you again. Now I know where you are. Could you email me? I need your new address so I can send your issue of DanceView there smile.gif

Sorry for the interruption -- back to the concours. I think it's quite wonderful that we have two people who saw it. Estelle will be writing about it for the next DanceView (which doesn't mean she shouldn't write about it here, although she may not have the strength smile.gif ). Terry, was this your first concours? What was the experience like?

#4 Estelle

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Posted 03 January 2002 - 12:52 PM

[quote]Originally posted by Terry:
I couldn´t feel much of a difference in the standards between the quadrille men and coryphe men at all!!

On the other hand, I found there was in general quite a difference between the female sujets and the coryphées and quadrilles: the sujets looked had more assurance and looked more at ease.

[quote]
I also liked very much Dorothee Gilbert (18yo) in the quadrille division, who unfortunately could not make it to the corphyee division, having ended up in the 2nd place, but with her talent, I am sure she will make it next year.


I liked her very much too. She had been delightful as Effie in the "Young dancers" program at the end of the previous season, and looks very promising. It's a pity that there was only one position of female quadrille this year: 19 of them were competing (out of 33 female quadrilles: probably the other ones were injured, or considered that they were too old to have any chance to get promoted)... And missing an opportunity one year can have sad consequences, as every year there are
new, younger competitors.

[quote]
It was unfortunate not to have been able to see the sujet mens this year -- I think Emmanuel Thibault and Alessio Carbone both deserve to be premiers danseurs already.


There had been many discussions about Thibault's non-promotion last year, and I'm afraid he's not liked much by the present direction and is unlikely to be promoted...

Some more information about the competition:

-the ranking for the female quadrilles:

1-Myriam Ould-Braham
2-Dorothée Gilbert
3-Leïla Dilhac
4-Lise-Marie Jourdain
5-Pauline Verdusen
6-Sandrine Westermann

Their compulsory variation was the variation of the 6th fairy in Nureyev's version of "The sleeping beauty".

-male quadrilles:

1-Grégory Gaillard
2-Simone Valastro
3-Alexis Saramite
4-Young-Geol Kim
5-Jean-Sébastien Colau
6-Audric Bézard

Variation: 1st variation of "Napoli"'s pas de six.

-female coryphées:

1- Emilie Cozette
2- Laurence Laffon
3- Myriam Kamionka
4- Alexandra Cardinale
5- Aurore Cordellier
6- Juliette Gernez

Variation: variation de l'étoile from Lander's "Etudes".

-male coryphées:

1-Mallory Gaudion
2-Bruno Bouché
3-Styéphane Bullion
4-Nicolas Paul
5-Nicolas Noël
6-Julien Meyzindi

Variation from the first act of Lacotte's "Paquita".

-female sujets:

1- Nolwenn Daniel
2- Mélanie Hurel
3- Stéphanie Romberg
4- Isabelle Ciaravola
5- Muriel Zusperreguy
6- Céline Talon

Variation: "La Cigarette" from Lifar's "Suite en blanc".

I was very surprised to see that Fanny Fiat, who did an excellent competition, was not among the first six dancers (actually, being among the six first has no practical consequences when one is not promoted, but at least it shows some appreciation from the jury).

[ February 04, 2002: Message edited by: Estelle ]



#5 Terry

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Posted 04 January 2002 - 04:07 PM

Hello Alexandra -- I just sent you an email so I hope you will receive it.

As for the experience, well it was wonderful. First of all, I think it is rare that we have a "competition" within a classical company -- I dont know of any other national companies that do this. Although we see many dancers in the corps we never see them dance individually, so this is a great opportunity to see them have the opportunity do reveal their personal strengths, especially in a large company like this one with 120 dancers!! As I've already noted, it was WONDERFUL to see all the quadrilles and the corphyees, especially to see the standard of their dancing because really, the POB has such a high classical standard particularly amongst the men. On the other hand, I realized how the standard has become such a "homogenous" standard that no one truly "sticks out" as the "star." Perhaps this has been one of the main problems with the POB in the recent years. But what abundance of talented talented male dancers!! It is such a pity that many of them do not get the opportunity to perform principal roles because they do not get the chance to grow individually.

I agree with you Estelle - the sujet women were much more mature then the coryphee and the quadrilles and I believe that there is quite an age difference as well. Once again, I would like to note Dorothee Gilbert, who has so much talent and charm. When she dances, the stage lights up and she fills the stage with her bursting happiness. Myriam Ould Braham is VERY special too, I think it's really rare to find such a classical dancer like her in this generation of ballet, keeping in mind that she is only 19 ! What maturity!! I was never too fond of Emilie Cozette but I think that overall, she still did the best performance out of the coryphees. I wasn't left with much of an impression with the sujets women, but I agree with the criticism that Fanny Fiat should have at least been classified.

#6 katharine kanter

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Posted 07 January 2002 - 06:24 AM

Much ink has been spilt in the French press over the case of Emmanuel Thibault, who, so far as I can see, is far and away the finest dancer the Opera has produced in the last twenty years. The preceding three Concours were marked by something of a scandal, most especially, the last one in February 2001. To give you a flavour of the press coverage:

Le Figaro, February 28th 2001, by Ariane Bavelier:

"Scandal at the Concours de l'Opéra" (title)

"The case of Emmanuel Thibault...who, for the past three years, has found his path to the position of premier danseur blocked off. Each and every year, he has been the best of the Concours, and each and every year,he is not promoted. Yet again, this past Wednesday... he shewed himself to be extraordinary. Light years above everyone else. Virtuoso, light, musical, catlike, frolicking through the trickiest technical problems. Such ease astounded even the professionals. And this time, we hoped against hope, that he would be promoted. There were two premier danseur positions available.....And then, tears of rage and injustice. Two other people were promoted...good dancers, of course, but the performance they put in at the Concours was well below that of Thibault...."

and so forth.

Rumours have been circulating of bizarre manoeuvres, designed to ensure that the aforesaid dancer, who has been working privately with Noella Pontois, never be promoted. Whether amongst such manoeuvres, is the fact that this year, the Concours offered not a single place of premier danseur, is something I, as an outsider, am not in a position to judge.

Tall, extremely good-looking dancers are very much favoured at the present time by the POB's Management. Emmanuel Thibault is neither. (Another very fine dancer, though not on M. Thibault's level, who started off in life as a musician, M. Stéphane Phavorin, has, I do believe, been rather over-looked, for lack of a pretty face).

One has few occasions to see M. Thibault in roles outwith the corps de ballet. On those occasions, I feel it only fair to say that dancing of so high a standard is but rarely seen. His "Blue Bird" in the The Sleeping Beauty, will go down in the annals of the greats, while his Pas de Trois in "Paquita" would have been met with cheers by Blassis or Perrot. Each time, it has put the rest of the dancing, remarkable as the POB is, into the shade - and that itself, may be telling. There is an intensity, a charisma, and a musicality, that no one else in the company has to that degree.

There are no doubt many things which we, as critics and public, do not know, with respect to what goes on in POB corridors. Be that as it may, like many outstandingly gifted people - Lis Jeppesen and Henriette Muus of the RDB were two notable cases - M. Thibault can be distracted, and have a very off-night indeed on stage. But I believe that in a great theatre, there must be room for those who can give more than most, there must be room for the Lis Jeppesens and Emmanuel Thibaults of this world.

[ January 07, 2002: Message edited by: katharine kanter ]

[ January 07, 2002: Message edited by: katharine kanter ]



#7 Alexander

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Posted 10 January 2002 - 08:09 AM

re. thibault, he is a very fine dancer indeed but hardly the best dancer the company has produced in the past 20 years: what about jude, legris, hilaire, leriche, martinez and more anon?! thibault also has an extremely limited repertoire (he can't act or partner) which i think justifies not promoting him, and the comparison with lis jeppesen i dont get at all: she was an extremely versatile performer! he basically has a beautiful jump.
that being said, i was shocked to learn that they had chosen to promote karl paquette last year. he seems little but bland and beautiful. belingaard, on the other hand, is an obvious premier danseur with real presence and seems to grow by the day.

#8 Estelle

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Posted 10 January 2002 - 08:30 AM

I have not seen Thibault very often, and it always was in the same kind of repertory (roles with a lot of jumps), but have often heard comments like those of Alexander about his problems with partnering.

I agree about the promotion of Karl Paquette: everybody was surprised, I think, by his promotion, all the more as he had been promoted as a sujet only one year ago and hadn't done anything especially striking in the season. He has been cast much this season (more than Bélingard, surprisingly) but doesn't seem to have provoked much enthusiasm... Perhaps it is yet another example of the sometimes bizarre choices of the jury for the premiers danseurs (another controversial choice a few years ago had been Nathalie Riqué). Among the sujets, I think that many people would have been more interesting than Paquette, like Hervé Courtain (in Boston this season), Stéphane Phavorin, Yann Saiz (even if he's a bit careless sometimes) or Christophe Duquenne- but it seems that they now are considered too "old" by the direction to get promoted (they're about 28-30).
I had't seen the previous competition, however, so perhaps it depended a lot on what had happened on that very day...

#9 Estelle

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Posted 10 January 2002 - 09:04 AM

Here's a review of Paquette's "Bayadère" with Moussin, by Paul Ben-Itzak:

http://www.danceinsi...01/f1204_2.html

#10 katharine kanter

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Posted 10 January 2002 - 09:05 AM

Alexander, there's seem to be a bit of a misunderstanding. I have put M. Thibault amongst the generation of people turned out in the last 20 years, in other words, AFTER M. Legris, and so forth, joined the troupe. I've just spoken of M. Legris on the POB thread.

And I'm really not in a position to discuss the acting ability of M. Thibault, because few have ever had the opportunity of seeing the fellow act. We have, on the other hand, all seen M. Paquette act. That does tend to orientate one's prejudices !

Indeed, in Paris at the moment, there is one way to stop an argument, and get everyone in a room to agree: just mention the words "Karl Paquette" ! Harmony, sweet smiles, and the peace of concord follow !

Be that as it may, on the POB thread, there's been a discussion about "danseur polyvalent", the multi-purpose dancer. Does one really need to be terrific in everything, including things one violently disagrees with, internally, in order to qualify as a first-class artist ? Quite honestly, I cannot imagine Miss Jeppesen dancing, shall we say, Forsythe, and I seem to recall that Balanchine was never one of her strong points either. But I would put her right up there in a class with Ulanova, or Fonteyn. Her dancing was the essence of poetry. And I think our American and Russian friends could perhaps point to a number of roles in which Suzanne Farrell, or Atylnai Assylmuratova for example, might have proven atrocious.

In the world of art, one would expect, or should I say, HOPE, to find people with powerful convictions. This may well lead these people, often the most strong-minded, to be just plain BAD in roles they despise.

What's sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander. There seems to be a tendency, in the world of dance, to expect things from a dancer, that one would never dare to expect from, say, Beethoven, or, moving down the scale, even from a conductor or Shakespearean actor.

To give one example: two years ago, a piece called "Casanova" by Anjelin Prejlocaj, was put up at the POB. The girls came out in some sort of semi-transparent bikini thingamiggie, with little pink plastic xxxxxxx ...... organs attached to that shred of a garment. I am told that the relevant feminine étoile, or étoiles, had then to read out "poetry", if that is the word, on venereal disease. This must have gone on for an hour or so. I'll spare you the report (second-hand) on the writhing and cavorting.

It seems that some people simply felt that they were just not enough of a "danseur polyvalent" to take on those roles. Not up to the "challenge", perhaps ? Anyway, you take my point. Out there in the wide world, there will no doubt be found some, who would bitterly criticise those who did not go out, or those who staggered through the thing half-heartedly, hoping against hope no-one in the theatre would recognise them, for not being a "proper, versatile" artist, unable to "bend" to "unusual" styles.

I say, where was the Animal Rights movement when we needed it ?

#11 Françoise

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Posted 10 January 2002 - 01:35 PM

Emmanuel Thibault is perhaps an excellent dancer but he is not at all polyvalent, he can't dance modern piece and can just dance academic ballet. He always act in the same way, eyes wide open, and he is a very bad partner. I think it's normal that he doesn't become premier danseur. He has absolutely not the qualities that a premier dancer need actually at POB. He is absolutely not able to dance a complete long role of Prince and so on.

#12 katharine kanter

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Posted 11 January 2002 - 05:21 AM

In reply to "Françoise" - if you spool back through the threads, including that on the POB, and that on Dance Injuries, you will find debate on the "multi-purpose" dancer, and whether that is really all that of a good thing.

As said above, none of us out there in the public are, as I see it, competent to judge whether the case in point, M. Thibault, can act, and we are unlikely to be given any such opportunity.

Be that as it may, musicians are not only allowed, they are indeed expected, to specialise in certain epochs and authors. Edwin Fischer, Wanda Landowska, or Dinu Lipatti, were certainly not "polyvalent". You have people who never touch Mozart, and people who never touch dodecaphony, and so forth. And yet, they are greatly respected, and they have their audience.

Neither do orchestra musicians feel all that "polyvalent", although to earn a living, they must feign to be so. It is instructive to peer into the orchestra pit, when people have to play works they manifestly abhore. One finds people snacking on scraps of sandwich, people flicking through magazines, even - on one attested occasion - Playboy. I've even seen people openly ridiculing the conductor...

Very strong language has been used in my earshot by some leading dancers, as to what they have been expected to do in recent years, but it would be untoward to repeat it here. Suffice it to say that they did not feel all that "polyvalent".

More generally still, I think that one of Miss Tomalonis' ideals, is to ensure that postings not become a settling of accounts, in respect of this or that dancer, or choreographer, or Artistic Director.

One must bear in mind that the postings are read by people from all over the world, including people in Russia and China, who may never get to see the dancers, or the Theatre that one has referred to. In-fighting readily becomes "What's He to Hekabe, or Hekabe to Him ?"

In posting, one is expected, I believe, to bear that in mind, and to try to contribute to the debate in a way that may turn out, in the end, to be helpful or thought-provoking for someone far off, who may not see these threads until some days, or even weeks or months, have passed.

What goes on at the POB is of general interest, only because the TECHNICAL standards are so high, that the company has become the "tuning fork" (diapason) for technique worldwide.

Except perhaps for Russia, neither the daily newspapers, nor the quarterlies, debate, as they did in the 19th Century, technical, or aesthetic issues involving classical theatrical dance. That is why this Website has attracted many people concerned about the future of ballet. The more conceptual, the more thought-out, our respective postings be, the more likely that the Site have a positive impact internationally.

#13 Alexandra

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Posted 11 January 2002 - 10:08 AM

Just a quick note -- thanks for touching on the international aspects of the site, Katharine. It is good to bear in mind that there are people reading the site who may not be familiar with this or that dancer, but there is no prohibition on discussing dancers. I think many people who read the site are interested in reading about different dancers; the only prohibition here is against gossip.

We have an aesthetic issues forum that's specifically for debate about....aesthetic issues smile.gif But most of the people who use the site aren't scholars and we want everyone to feel comforable writing about performances they've seen. I agree, though, that dancer bashing isn't welcome -- but one has to become accustomed to reading that one's favorite dancer is someone else's least favorite, and vice versa. When I started the site I tried to use Fonteyn and Farrell as examples of the good, not because they were my favorites, but because I thought they were generally recognized as models of particular styles. All this got me was that people assumed, quite undestandably in retrospect, that they were personal choices, and there are quite a few people who do NOT see them as ideals smile.gif I've now switched to La Sublimova and Drekova (married to the dread Drekov, the choreographer).

None of this has anything to do with the Paris Opera, of course, but I thought I'd interject to clarify matters.

#14 Estelle

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Posted 11 January 2002 - 10:25 AM

I agree that one shouldn't expect any dancer to be totally "polyvalent" and good in any possible repertory: some ultra-"polyvalent" dancers sometimes tend to look the same in anything (jack of all trades, master of no one?), and for example I don't think that the fact that Elisabeth Platel didn't perform much in the modern repertory made her a lesser dancer. However, I think that having a very limited range might be a problem, and the partnering is a serious issue too...

Perhaps it'd be interesting to have a discussion about the meaning of the hierarchy at the POB today. The position of "premier danseur" is a bit uncomfortable, as sometimes it almost is the same as an etoile, and someones it is almost a trap.
There have been some periods with fewer premiers danseurs than principals, and now it's the opposite, especially for women (as Alymer had pointed out in another discussion, the number of étoiles has varied a lot during the previous decades). Also, sometimes it is only a first step before being promoted to étoile, and sometimes it is the final step of a career... Some étoiles even skipped that category: Hilaire, Guérin and Legris all were only sujets when Nureyev promoted them to étoile.

I remember reading that the five-category hierarchy of the POB was modelled by the roles in traditional 19th-century ballets: the étoiles for the main roles, the premiers danseurs for the pas de deux- pas de trois, the sujets for the pas de quatre- pas de six, the coryphées for small ensembles and the quadrilles for the rest. I don't know how true it is (and I don't know how old that hierarchy system is- there were seven categories until a few decades ago, with petits sujets and grands sujets, and premiers quadrilles and seconds quadrilles), and what has been the evolution in this century. I remember reading, for example, that some premiers danseurs of the 1950s-1960s like Gilbert Mayer (later one of the company's teachers) probably would have been promoted to étoile in other periods.

#15 Alexandra

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Posted 11 January 2002 - 10:57 AM

I think the distinction between a dancer not having to be a danseur polyvalent, or jack of all trades, yet not having too a limited range, is a good one -- there is a middle ground, and that's where the great dancers usually are. It may also be a question of repertory, though. Since there are so few star demicaractere roles in the contemporary repertory, a demicaractere specialist has less chance to show his range (if he has one.) I often think of Nijinsky and what he would have been without Fokine. Would he have been considered as great a dancer if he had just had Bluebird, or even Bluebird and Albrecht?

On the hierarchy, I don't know the practice in the 20th century, but in the 19th it was just as Estelle described, according to Ivor Guest. If you had such-and-such a rank, you could not be made to dance in anything larger than a group of four. (Think of the old ballets, and how there are 16 maids of honor and 8 Giselle's friends.) There's still a vestige of this -- that a principal dancer doesn't take a corps role.


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