Sleeping Beauty at the Paris Opera House

Sleeping Beauty,  Opéra de Paris I really wanted to title this post “David Hallberg’s Amazing Coup de Pied” but I wasn’t sure if that would be a title anyone would really understand, let alone click on to read the post.

Chéri took me to the ballet at the Opera de Paris (this time at the Bastille opera house). I was disappointed that the show wasn’t being held at my favorite Paris monument (Palais Garnier), but I do find the seats more comfortable at the Bastille location. The ballet we watched : Sleeping Beauty. The choreography by Rudolf Noureev and the music by Tchaikovsky, it couldn’t be anything less than a pure delight. I was beyond excited. It has been a while since I have found the time to go to see a performance and I was starting to miss the incredible shows the company puts on. The costumes and sets are always at the height of perfection, made with talented hands and designed by great stage artists.
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La Source – “Le public n’a pas de fesses”

I went to see the ballet La Source recently at the Garnier Opera house, one of my favorite places in Paris as many of you know! And I was once again dazzled and amazed by the beauty of the production they put on.

The phrase “Le public n’a pas de fesses” means literally that the audience doesn’t have a rear end (meaning, the public is so enthralled in the show that they do not feel how uncomfortable their rear end is in those seats!) That’s how I felt about this beautiful show. I didn’t feel my rear!

La Source, Opera De Paris

I was thrilled to discover Allister Madin in the role of Zaël, and elf of the water spirit Naïla, who was herself danced by Charline Giezendanner. Both of these two powerhouse dancers not only showed incredible technique and physical talent but they also had an acute sensibility for the characters they were portraying. Zaël is both zealous and secretive, “malin” as we would say in French. He carries the show on his green clad shoulders so well. And received thunderous applause as he took his bows. Miss Giezendanner was as graceful as a dewdrop and a fairy with the most delicate gestures that reached to the ends of her limbs.

Discover Allister Madin in this video :

Set in mythical Persia, the story involves a hunter, Djémil; The water spirit Naïla; her elf Zaël; Khan the emporer; and Nouredda who is to be promised to Khan by her brother Mozdock. It is a love story full of betrayals and hesitation, ruse and sacrifice. This ballet was first created in 1866 and has been revived by the one of the Opera house’s star dancers, Jean-Guillaume Bart. Eric Ruf created the magical set and Christian LaCroix designed the breathtaking costumes. See in the artists speak about their creations following video (in French).

Eric Ruf’s décor for this piece was captivating to me because he managed to create a magical fairy-like set that gives us the idea of water falls and foliage, simply by using typical things you would find in a theater : rope and red velvet. It seemed so fitting to use such elements, but they are so far removed from what they were meant to represent. Yet, it worked theatrical wonders on the imagination. It seems so natural coming from him though as he is based in theater, being from the Comédie Française theater. His décor oozes the stage theatrical inspiration. I fell in love with the work as the curtain rose. It was perfect.

La source

La source

(Sorry for the photo quality, I only had my phone camera on me. Find some better pictures at brieuc75 blog)

The costumes were just as stunning (if not more so) than the decor and the dancing. GORGEOUS creations by LaCroix that sparkled so much I thought I might need sunglasses! Crystals sewn into the silk and organza fabrics, shined under the theater lights like the sparkling sunlight on the sea or the twinkling Eiffel tower at midnight. Sumptuous and stunning, these creations are pure works of art. And the color! Oh my the color! LaCroix really does do color better than most designers. As he says in the video inserted above, he was fulfilling a childhood dream with these creations for the Opera de Paris.

Well he’s got me dreaming!
I left the Opera house in a ballerina la-la fairy land state-of-mind…

A family affair

Le Cirque d’hiver Bouglione.

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The Cirque d’Hiver was constructed in 1852, and is still standing. That is because those who practice, create and perform l’art du cirque do so with passion and a determination to see it survive. But then it is hard to image the circus disappearing as a form of art, because the acts just get more and more daring from one generation to the next. This was the place where the “flying trapeze act was invented and perform for the first time! And this year we see for the first time ever a woman walking the tightrope carrying a man on her shoulders (and she was signing the whole time). This just one of dozens of acts in the 2 and a half hour show that has you on the edge of your seat wondering “how do they do that!?!” or giggling like an eight year old with popcorn in your teeth. It’s fun and corny, and you feel like a kid for a couple hours, while you watch the daring acts of artists dazzle before your eyes.

The Bouglione family has been running the Cirque d’Hiver since 1934…and from the looks of it will do so for generations to come, as even the smallest Bouglione performs… he’s five years old. They do it all, with pizazz and with dedication, from lion taming to heart-stopping acrobats to impish clowning around… A place where children and adults alike can be delighted, enjoy this year’s show, “Prestige” a spectacular show…from their family to you and yours.

« Prestige »

« Prestige » at the Cirque d’Hiver until February 27th 2011

Billetterie du spectacle « Prestige »
Réservation : 0892 680 892*
*0,34 €/min

La Générale

(The dress rehearsal)

I am lucky to know someone that can invite me to visit at his place of work which happens to be the Palais Garnier. He was quite gracious to invite me the night of the dress rehearsal of the very exclusive Gala that was performed for the AROP (l’Association pour le Rayonnement de l’Opéra de Paris) which is a group of the big, Big, BIG sponsors of the Opera house and company. Their soirée is complete with a lavish dinner and a show with both displays of dance and opera.


I was lucky to be able to watch the show, preparations, commentary (by Brigitte Lefèvre) and all! The first half, la partie dansé (I didn’t stay for the entire second half which was the opera pieces, plus my battery died), consisted of the défilé of the ENTIRE dance company and school, from the little ones all the way to the danseurs étoiles. Imagine an entire stage full of dancers!

Then there was an excerpt of Balenchine’s Pas De Deux with Tchaikovski, excerpts of Paquita by choreographer Pierre Lacotte -I have fond memories of doing these very same excerpts at my dance school on Cape Cod –


And then… MY FAVORITE piece of choreography in the whole world : Boléro, by Maurice Béjart (to the music of the same title by Ravel of course) danced by the very stunning very muscular Nicolas Le Riche….swoon!

And of course I thought of all of you, my faithful readers… I wouldn’t leave you hanging! (Here’s just a few excerpts of the excerpts)


Passion de Dusapin

When creating an opera, Pascal Dusapin starts with images that portray the emotion he wants to convey through his piece. For this opera the theme is the pain that women endure. His title ‘Passion’ pertains to the passion that women feel, but also holds a sort of Christ-like definition with a certain amorous ecstasy for suffering. But far from being a Christianity inspired piece, Dusapin inclined more towards mythology for his tangible character inspiration, in the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. Convinced that Orpheus kills Eurydice in order to feel the pain that he needs to continue his captivating melodies and poems, Dusapin wanted to put an emphasis on the movement that brings a man and a woman together or draws them apart.

Information and video excerpt

And who better to do that than Sasha Waltz, for this choreographic opera. Originally from Karlsruhe in Germany, Waltz studied in Amsterdam and New York for her formation. This new creation isn’t the first time Dusapin has infiltrated her work. Her first choreographic opera Dido & Aeneas was a production inspired by Dusapin’s Medeamaterial. Waltz sees the hell that Eurydice falls into synonymous with the weighted failures of the daily trials and errors for a man and a woman to find harmony in their meeting and re meeting because the objective is put on too high of a pedestal for the relationship to be able to obtain the level of connection desired. As for the movement that she gives the two main characters, she is looking for more passivity than combat in the struggle to find one another.  “Whether it pertains to hell or to a separation, they are in all simplicity far from one another in the profound aspiration, and alone in their search” she said in an interview with dramaturgy artist Ilka Seifert.


From Sasha Waltz website


The movement of the main characters did display a high level of passivity, as they were driven about the stage by the company (Sahsa Waltz and Guests) of dancers that accompanied them. There was an intense fluidity to the movement of the entire piece that was well accentuated by the sublime costumes by Hussein Chalayan, that could be seen as somewhat inspired by a ancient mythological aesthetic but were conceived with the movement in mind for the clothes draped the dancers and moved with them as if they themselves had choreographic instructions.The lighting and decorum and added electro-acoustics added a final aspect to the entire opera to offer an auditive depth, a visual texture and a mysteriousness that had complimented the whole production. The lighting was often from side stage or a corner, low, and soft and accentuated the skin of the dancers who had all different shades of color from pure white to deep brown. Accentuated by the lights and darks of the costumes, the skin and the different  colors proposed a sensual feel to the mise en scène which was heightened by the agile dancers who engaged in every kind of contact dance in the contemporary field. Feathers and helium-filled balloons gave a texture at the last movement of the opera as a sort of finale where all the magic happens or falls. With for a backdrop a video realized elsewhere of Lei, the heroine, running, falling backwards and losing her balance in a very industrial setting with stone, cement and metal all around. The romance is gone, the poetry is gone, the music floats away as easily as a feather or a lost balloon.

(Thilo Reuther created the decorum and lighting and Thierry Coduys created the electro-acoustics).

Décrocher la lune – Shoot the moon

Photo : Opera de Paris

Kaguyahime, the moon princess, descends down to Earth with a message of peace and spirituality. Her incredible beauty inspires love and desire, and many men vie for her hand. She refuses them, knowing that her time on Earth is limited, and she is secretly in love with the Emperor, Mikado. A war breaks out and the inhabitants of Kaguyahime’s village are forced to defend themselves against a nobleman and his warriors. Her time on Earth finished, the moon princess must leave her adoptive parents and the Emporer and she reascends back to the moon cloaked in a golden mantle.

The Opera de Paris showed it’s premier yesterday evening, of their version of this timeless Japanese tale, with Marie-Agnès Gillot dancing the title role. Clothed in a glowing white unitard she carefully and gracefully moved through Jiri Kylian’s astonishing choreography. The entire spectacle moves with a fluidity that is painstakingly practiced and perfected. The décor and lighting (done by Michel Simon) harmonizes so well with the dancers and the music that is represents a seamless flow of artistry and creative ideas that the spectator is carried away by each and every moment of this amazing show.

In reality there were two spectacles in one, the dancers and the orchestra. The music composed by Maki Ishii is dominated by percussionists, who execute a dance of their own as the beat their large base drums in a choreographed unison.

But the dancers were obviously the most thrilling. In an almost unstoppable movement they performed a story punctuated by more than just pirouettes and jetés, they were characters, letters even, from a Japanese parchment paper telling a story that has endured for almost two thousand years. Their bodies took on forms that traditional classical and modern dance do not know.

Run, fly, but do not wander slowly to see this masterpiece. You will not be disappointed. It lasts until the 15th of July on selected dates only, at the Opera de Paris, Bastille.