PARIS OPERA BALLET.
Nearly over before it began, Martha Graham's haunting three-minute solo, Lamentation, set an emotionally charged tone for the four-part "Spectacle de Ballets" presented last fall at the Paris Opera Ballet. This fluid, tender solo dating back to 1930 is performed in a seated position. The dancer's feet are stuck to the ground, her movements both hidden and accentuated by a fabric tube in which she is wrapped. It was interpreted here by principal etoile Fanny Gaida, whose brutal gestures were rounded out by the folds in the tissue, softening the sharp edges of the staccato movements. Her clenched fists, arched feet, and melancholic expression remained evident throughout, imbuing the spectator with a deep sensation of sadness and pain. Set to a nineteenth-century piano composition by Hungarian Zoltan Kodaly, Lamentation first touched the spectator's eyes and ears before it settled in, leaving a mark on our souls.
Graham's 1986 creation Temptations of the Moon, inspired by the folklore of ancient Egypt, came as a colorfully sharp contrast to the melancholy of Lamentation. Set to Bela Bartok's lively Dance Suite, Op. 77, the dancers' ritualistic movements kept them airborne and playful in this pastel celebration of the night. Etoile Agnes Letestu was divine as the sultry crescent moon, as was her lover and protector, Jose Martinez, as the fun-loving and seductive velvet night.
Created in honor of this year's ongoing George Gershwin centennial celebration, the premiere of Odile Duboc's Rhapsody in Blue came as a subtle surprise. Based on French conductor Guillaume Tourniaire's slowly swinging interpretation of the Gershwin classic, and inspired by the composition's innate dose of inspiration, Duboc's choreography was both electric and subdued. Divided in two parts, the ballet opened to the bustling sounds of crowded city streets--horns honking, heels clicking, cars rushing by as a dozen blue-clad dancers moved in spurts. Playfully dashing to and fro, they chased each other with hoots and hollers before disappearing deftly into the night. The second half began with the high drifting clarinet solo of Gershwin's sweet rolling Rhapsody, interpreted by the National Orchestra of the Paris Opera under Tourniaire's direction. Principal dancer Kader Belarbi gave an exquisite performance, sinuously winding in and out among his fellow dancers, tantalizing his spritely, seductive partner, Carole Arbo. On-again, off-again, Duboc's choreography was like the stop-and-go rhythm of the unpredictable sea.
It was, however, Pina Bausch's radical Rite of Spring that stole the show. This highly volatile piece, based on Igor Stravinsky's 1913 composition, is a Bausch classic that entered the company repertory in 1997. With the stage covered in a thick layer of fresh soil, the thirty-two dancers engaged in highly physical, often dangerous movements. Their feather-light dresses and loose linen trousers turned quickly from flowing gossamer threads to sticky, muddy clumps of cloth as the pulsing drums pounded and the perspiration flowed. Miteki Kudo's final solo was brutally powerful and left little room for hope in this dirt-ridden vision of human nature. Throughout the run of this explosive piece, the dancers were rewarded with a Paris rarity, a standing ovation. During the applause, dancers shared nods of recognition that, yes, they had once again survived the piece's cathartic sequence of destruction.
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|Title Annotation:||Opera Garnier, November 21-December 8, 1998|
|Article Type:||Brief Article|
|Date:||Mar 1, 1999|
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