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Results of the Annual POB Concours (2002)


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#1 katharine kanter

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Posted 30 December 2002 - 11:18 AM

The results have just been posted up on another Website. With excuses to CriticalDance - they will be made public in any event here they are :

Coryphées :
1- Mathieu Ganyo
2- Alexis Renaud
3- Yong Geol Kim
4- Simon Vallastro
5- Florian Magnenet

1- Dorothée Gilbert
2- Eve Grinsztajn
3- Séverine Westermann

Sont nommés Sujets :
1- Bruno Bouché
2- Stéphane Bullion
3- Jean-Christophe Guerri
4- Nicolas Paul

1- Myriam Kamionka
2- Caroline Bance
3- Myriam Ould-Braham

Sont nommés premiers Danseurs :
1- Alessio Carbone
2- Hervé Moreau

1- Stéphanie Romberg
2- Mélanie Hurel


Owing to a ghastly snafu with the tickets, I missed all the men, and half of the female quadrilles.

The promotion to coryphée among the men, so far as I can see from this year's work, makes sense. Ganio and Valastro - exciting dancers. The promotion to sujet among the men was a dullish class to follow, and I rather suspect that those who missed it, like myself, did not miss much.

The promotion to sujet among the ladies was a little more interesting. Myriam Kamionka is about 28 years old, I would imagine this was probably her best concours so far. A pretty dancer, "sans plus". Myriam Ould-Braham who is 20, was, I think, promoted to sujet on her extraordinary potential, rather than on the Concours as such, as she was manifestly shaking with nerves. She and Miteki Kudo are the only two ladies in the troupe, so far as I can see, who do not look like battle-axe swinging members of some Woman's Empowerment Group. The Girl is exquisite, and God Speed to her !

The promotion to premier danseur among the men I would prefer not to elaborate on, as I failed to see the dancing. I had heard that Hervé Moreau has been excellent throughout the year. Alessio Carbone is a very good dancer, not nearly as good as M. Thibault, but since there would appear to be some sort of a Decision From Above that the latter gentleman will never be promoted, it serves little purpose to even mention that slight hitch to the proceedings.

Promotion to première danseuse, again, highly controversial, at least as controversial as the appointment of Mlle. Osta as étoile yesterday.

Neither the Concours of Mlles Romberg, nor most certainly that of Mlle Hurel, were a patch on that of Mlle. Fiat. The latter is a very strong dancer, technically, but she also happens to be possessed of a strange beauty, and an almost hypnotic magnetism over the public. There is not a lot of that about in the POB at the moment. How in heaven's name Mlle. Hurel has reached the rank of première danseuse, and over the head of Mlle Fiat, is an utter mystery.

The problem I see with these appointments to premier danseur/première danseuse, is that the Jury judging them is top-heavy with premiers danseurs and étoiles still on active duty. May I suggest, impertinently, that the latter might tend not to be overly thrilled to promote certain able people with extremely sharp pointy teeth, to share their particular little kale patch, as the Scots would say. This leads me to the further impertinent suggestion, that the Jury may a little out of touch with what the general public thinks: the general public goes to the ballet to see people who can dance.

But what the public gets, is a fresh round of "enfants sages" (obedient children).

Ergo, cast sheets which one reads, and sighs, and says "Oh God No, not him/her again..."

Otherwise, the ladies' side of the Concours gave one an opportunity to contemplate some truly appalling bad taste in the choice of free variations. I mean, Roland Petit's Carmen, in about twelve different permutations, or Béjart's Rite of Spring ? Neumeier's "Sylvia" ? Crikieeee !!!! That lot makes William Forsythe look gifted, which, in some ways, he probably is.

It also makes one reflect on the decline in female technique, owing to the last century's pointe fetish. There is too much goddam pointe work. I thought I was in a pointe class at times, not in the Concours of the world's leading troupe. Pointework is an utter bore, at best, but it's now the be-all and end-all, no steps, no jumps, no beats, rows of women, no matter how beautiful, jerking up and down on pointe all day. Makes the head spin and the gorge rise. Give us steps ! Bring back Bournonville !

Lastly, but not leastly, where was the beautiful Miteki Kudo when we needed her ? Have then pulled a "Thibault " on her ? She did not stand for promotion to première danseuse at this Concours, more's the pity.

#2 Françoise

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Posted 30 December 2002 - 03:45 PM

Miteki Kudo is too old to hope become a premiere danseuse and doesn't pass the concours this year as well as Laure Muret or Nathalie Aubin.
Against Myriam Ould Braham is a very good classical dancer but it's all she is unable to dance other ballets than classical. And her choice for her free variation is really bad, always classical variation as Giselle, Grand pas classique, Aurore, Kitri (dream). it's always very classical variation and POB needs complete artist.
To my eyes the two best ballerinas of the company are Fanny Fiat, who has high potential and Dorothée Gilbert who became coryphée and is really more good than Myriam !
And the choice of variation as Carmen, Manon (Mac Millan), Sylvia and so on is the princip of POB, choose variation in his wide repertory.
We don't forget that POb is an alive troup and don't must live in past and must live in present and future presenting variation from Forsythe, Neumeier, Béjart, Petit and not only Petipa and this kind of variation.

#3 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 30 December 2002 - 03:56 PM

Thanks for another point of view, Francoise. I can't recollect Braham or the others from my few visits to the POB, but I'd have to disagree that the idea that someone who is more suited as Aurora than in contemporary ballet is an incomplete artist or that that repertory is dead or irrelevant. The backbone of the POB repertory seems to be the Nureyev productions of the classics and the company's size and stature as an institution make them the only company in France that can do the classics on that scale. Their reputation is based on their abilities as classical dancers. They might as well have a few scattered among the ranks, n'est-ce pas?

#4 Françoise

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Posted 31 December 2002 - 08:13 AM

Basis of repertory was Nureyev, it's not true now.
This season, they just give Swan Lake, and take Bayadère for the Japan Tour. This year you have creation by Edouard Lock, Maurice Béjart, Tetsuyo Shebigawara, Patrice Bart, it's not really classical ballets and you have Kylian and Ek's work again. We don't forget that POB is not only classical troup and is really open to contemporary, last season was also a complete contemporary season, and classical dancer can really show their qualities in ballets like Notre-Dame de Paris, Ek's Giselle, Preljocaj's Parc, Blanca Li's Sheherazade. I think we must have dancer for all taste, but we don't forget that if you want be ranked more high in hierarchy and arrive etoile or premier danseur you must be a complete talent :rolleyes:

#5 Alexandra

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Posted 31 December 2002 - 08:21 AM

So good to see you again, Francoise :)

According to the director and the artistic staff, it is a classical troupe, Francoise. We published an interview with Patrice Bart last season in DanceView, and he said that the company's position was that ballet required excellence, that only a large company with a school and sufficient resources (i.e., POB) should be dancing classical ballets, and that doing so was the company's mission; contemporary dance, which does not require the same level of training nor a large number of dancers, was left to the smaller companies. The public wants novelty, so doing Mats Ek and the rest is fine, but that is not what gives the POB its reputation; the big classical ballets do that.

If the company is going to remain a classical company -- which is its mission, its place in France's artistic scheme -- it has to dance the classics and dance them on the highest level or it loses its international reputation. And to do that, it needs classical dancers.

That is what Leigh meant. The idea that someone "only" can dance classical ballet, and that this is somehow a limitation, seems very odd indeed. That's their job. That's what they're supposed to be good at.

#6 Françoise

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Posted 31 December 2002 - 09:08 AM

I think all the POB dancers are good in classical, as it's a classical troup, but the best dancer of the company are the one who have this something more in modern dance and are able to all dance.

#7 Terry

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Posted 31 December 2002 - 04:49 PM

Well, not really...
How do we explain Elizabeth Platel then? Or Monique Loudieres? They didn't particularly excel in modern pieces at all...and yet, Platel was a wonderful ballerina!! Someone like Myriam Ould Braham is so rare today; I haven't really seen any young dancer who can dance the classics at THAT level, especially for her age? Plus, Myriam hasn't really been given a chance yet to perform soloist roles in neo-classical or contemporary pieces. I don't think there's anything wrong with just being a "classical" dancer in a troupe that contains so many varied dancers -- it doesn't make her a less complete dancer, maybe perhaps less versatile?

#8 Alexandra

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Posted 31 December 2002 - 04:55 PM

Thank you, Terry. When the day comes that it's "wrong" to be a classical dancer at a company like POB, then we're really in trouble!

#9 Françoise

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Posted 31 December 2002 - 05:46 PM

I just want say something about Monique Loudieres, she was completely contemporary dancer too, she made her farewell performance with Mats Ek's Giselle and she was alternating on the cast with Pietragalla, she was wonderful and was able to dance some works of Ailey, Forsythe, Kylian as well as Coralli's Giselle and for me she was the greatest etoile of this twenty last years !
I never say it was wrong to be a classical dancer in POB corps, but if you want make a real career and especially become an etoile actually you must be "versatile", for example, Emmanuel Thibault never will become premier danseur and he is a perfect classical dancer.

#10 katharine kanter

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Posted 01 January 2003 - 06:19 AM

Paris, Saint Petersburg and Copenhagen are the capitals of Terpsichore, and that is why an event like the Concours, and its implications, will be discussed all over the world.

When someone, in this concrete case, M. Thibault, decides to uphold principles in a world of shredding standards, I think that deserves one's respect. And when he does so, not for six months, or one year, but for TEN YEARS, even on those evenings when relegated to Row 19, twelfth from the left, well - that shews greatness.

That's leadership, and one wouldn't want to make snide little remarks about it.

Classical ballet has been beaten back into a corner, because it carries a message about the soul and eternal things, at a time when we are all supposed to become a lot of drooling, grovelling slaves to instinct with our head stuck up some videogame.

Everyone, in a great theatre like the Paris Opera, takes their work seriously. They are all real troupers, and professional to the tips of their fingers. I take off my hat to them. Fine.

Some go further than that. They are able to summon up in their soul, absolute concentration on the principles underlying classical dance, and to get that across to the public, in the form of pure ideas. That is the highest level that the classical dance can reach, and that is what is going on in the mind of a Thibault, a Cojocaru, or a Thomas Lund. I find that extremely moving, and I cannot but feel sorry for people who laugh and point the finger at it.

Now, were you ever, God Forbid, to be forced to watch a murder, or a rape, you will be "moved" - you may fall to the ground, you may vomit, you may sh.... in your p......s. But is it the same type of emotion ? Is that the emotion a classical art form, with its thousands of years of history, should present to the people ?

During the Concours, a poor girl came out and danced a thing from Mats Ek, Giselle in an Asylum I think it was. She exhibited her undies, or whatever, and they call that choreography ! And the audience, mostly dancers themselves, tittered, because they cannot help but say it is ridiculous. But that girl was promoted.

That sort of choreography is perverse. Some dancers stand up and reject it. They have guts, and, take it from the little old lady that I am, history will be grateful to them.

#11 boydancer05

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Posted 01 January 2003 - 06:31 PM

I think I have met Mathieu Ganyo from a summer program here in the states. if it is the same guy I remember him as a very nice dancer and young also. He was I think 17 when I met him. All the guys were in awe at how clean he was at such a young age.

#12 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 01 January 2003 - 07:54 PM

Katherine - for what it's worth when I saw Thibault dance in Paris, my first thought was "Extremely capable dancer. Extremely limited repertory." Besides Bluebird, which I saw him in, and he was exemplary in the part (he's an exotic in type) what do you think his repertory is? Is it possible the reason Thibault isn't moving ahead because he is so specialized in type?

#13 Françoise

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Posted 02 January 2003 - 02:06 AM

At firt, Happy new year to all :)

You have completely right Leigh, Emmanuel Thibault is sure a brilliant technician, but he just can dance pdd divertissement and never dance other thing, the only few "modern" thing where I see him it's Neumeier Midsummer Night's dream where he danced Puck part. He has two problem the first is his repertory really limited can dance only divertissement (bluebird, peasant pdd from Giselle, Scottish pdd from Sylphide or Swan Lake pas de trois...) but he never dance contemporary works as Forsythe, Kylian and so on.
His second and more big problem, he is not a partner, and since some years premier danseur are considerated as "little" etoile without title, they must dance all the parts as Solor, Frantz (Coppelia), Siegfried, Albrecht Romeo but they need to be partner, Emmanuel unfortunately is not a partner, every time I saw him in pdd, I'm always surprise by his high jumps, but every time I see problem of partnership, I think it's for that he can't be promoted.

Considering Ek's Giselle, if I don't love Caroline Bance interpretation of this role, it's the name of the promoted dance, it's choreography, Giselle is a contemporary masterwork. Against we can ask a question about variation choice, some free variation (each dancer must dance one imposed variation and one free variation) seem more easy than others. But it's choreography, I think we must say "I don't love this sort of dance", but it's dance. The greatest etoile of this last 20 years, Monique Loudieres choosed this ballet for her farewell performance. It's a wonderful ballet.

Mathieu Ganio is 18 years old now and it's really a brilliant dancer, till he began to dance his imposed variation, you look some boy different of the other, tall, technically better, and smiling which is not often the case unfortunately, especially in this competition, where they are all on nerves ;) !

#14 katharine kanter

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Posted 02 January 2003 - 04:00 AM

Everyone, please !

I'd rather avoid - at any cost - getting drawn into a slanging match over this or that individual dancer. As for E. Thibault, he is already the most controversial figure in the Opera, and has been for several years, so I'll refrain from adding fuel to the fire... It's not doing the fellow any favours.

The point I've been trying to make - and I would imagine it's very much the same in all major theatres now - is that we've slid into a James-Thurber-like Corporate Bureaucracy mentality. The smooth, the slick, the handsome, the predictable. All within, of course, the high level of competency that one would expect of a great institution like the Paris Opera.

Being competent and getting along nicely with everyone, does not, necessarily, make one an artist.

For those who did not know The New Yorker Magazine in the 1950s, James Thurber was an amazingly droll, if somewhat down-beat, cartoonist, who tried to ring the alarm bell on the drift in post-War USA towards a bland, milquetoast, suburban existence. Corporate Man was constantly kow-towing to a towering Wife Figure. I guess that was meant to be a symbol for the Corporation, or whatever.

#15 Mel Johnson

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Posted 02 January 2003 - 04:25 AM

Actually, James Thurber was legally blind, and the proportions of his cartoons and their soft-edged silhouettes may have been an indirect result of this condition, as it was with Monet. And, from the texts of his short stories, the Towering Wife probably is a symbol for a Towering Wife. Sometimes a cigar is only a cigar.


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