Ludmila Pagliero got the Benois de la Danse Award

01.06.2017

Congratulations to Ludmila Pagliero! The Paris Opera Ballet étoile got the Benois de la Danse Award for her performance in Jerome Robbins’ “Other Dances”. And we knew it! Here is our review of the mixed bill in which, last season, Ludmila danced Robbins’ world famous pas de deux – our correspondent Alessandro Bizzotto saw her on the occasion of the opening night in Paris and he (and we all) knew her performance was a one to remember!

Ludmila Pagliero in Jerome Robbins "Other Dances" © Sebastien Mathé

Ratmansky/Balanchine/Robbins/Peck: a thrilling American breeze in Paris
A magnificent neoclassical program at the Paris Opera, at last, says ALESSANDRO BIZZOTTO

Surprisingly, one of the highlights of Millepied’s first season at the Paris Opera Ballet is this fantastic mixed bill that makes us breathe an American breeze.
On the stage of the Palais Garnier, Ratmansky’s “Seven Sonatas”, Robbins’ “Other Dances” and, after an interval, Balanchine’s "Duo Concertant" and Peck’s “In Creases”.
Alexei Ratmansky is Russian, of course, but he has been an artist in residence at the American Ballet Theatre since 2014, and he created “Seven Sonatas” for the US company. Balanchine is the father of a particular American ballet style, while Jerome Robbins is the true quintessentially American choreographer. Justin Peck, then, is currently a soloist and the resident choreographer at the New York City Ballet.
It is unusually enjoyable to watch works created by those four choreographers executed with French technique. Although, of course, such a bill would have been a joy to behold in any case: these four dialogues between piano music and dance are perfectly matched and their musicality is a pleasure in itself. A magnificent, thoroughly neoclassical program at the Paris Opera, at last.
“Seven Sonatas”, set to Scarlatti, seems to show the different faces of love, or at least of human feelings. Three couples dialogue on stage with extreme musical sensitivity: Ratmansky’s poetic gestures really looks as if it illuminates the score.
It is just a pity the male dancers, here, are below the level of the American ones who created the roles. Only Florian Magnenet seems at complete ease in Ratmansky’s refined choreographic plot. As far as the female part of the cast is concerned, Laura Hecquet dances very stylishly, sometimes too much to be genuinely touching. Aurélia Bellet executes the steps capably, but it is Alice Renavand that turns this ballet into a real story of courtship, longing, tumult: she is graceful but intense and her approach is as vibrant as confident. Renavand is not only technically impeccable, but also daringly present.
The unquestioned showpiece, tonight, is Robbins’ “Other Dances”. The extended pas de deux created in 1976 is brilliant and playful and finds a new, impressive life at the Paris Opera danced by Ludmila Pagliero and Mathias Heymann.
Pagliero is astonishingly fast and crystal clear. Through her flawless technique, every detail of rhythm and style looks polished and harmonious: she is bewitchingly beautiful on stage and her delivery of her two variations has substance, glamour and keenness. Heymann gives his solos a kind of cool authority and really seems to take the sparkling choreography and make it his own.
Not intimidated at all by the presence among the audience of Mikhail Baryshnikov, for whom Robbins created the male role in “Other Dances”, Pagliero and Heymann are as romantic as effervescent together and their partnership resounds with lavish flair.
"Duo Concertant", created by Balanchine in 1972, is a true poetic conceit. Two dancers appear to listen to an onstage pianist and violinist, and then start dancing. She is a sort of ideal muse, and he cannot resist her, kneeling at her feet.
Here Laura Hecquet performs with suppleness and engrossing breadth of phrasing. There’s no doubt she has total command of the technical aspects of the choreography and she connects with her partner, Hugo Marchand, with smiles and searching looks. Marchand, for his part, gives careful lucidity to his steps.
Justin Peck’s “In Creases” might have easily been the less attractive piece of the evening, with its slight lack of romanticism. A feeling that style is more interestingly important than emotion pervades the show, somehow. But what a style. The choreography matches Philip Glass’ Four Movements for Two Pianos excitingly.
The pianos onstage facing each other, and four female and four male dancers in a kind of dreamscape that intensifies the colors of music. They run, they turn, they jump as if they were at times attracted and repelled by each other.
Valentine Colasante is by far the most eye-catching among the performers of Peck’s ballet: she is dazzlingly linear and cleverly passionate.

 

           

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