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…

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).

Une seconde Chance – A Second chance

As much as I love the ballet, never have I ever shed a tear for the heros and heroines, until I saw Aurelie Dupont dancing the choreographie of John Neumeier in La Dame Aux Camelias = the Lady With the Camillas, at the Paris Garnier opera house. I know the novel by Alexandre Dumas fils very well, and did certainly shed many a tear for the Marguerite Gautier on paper, one of the most delicate and heart-wrenching characters to come out of 19th century literature. But I had no idea what I was in for at the Palais Garnier.

The lead role was shared by five different star dancers over the course of this run of the ballet which is part of the Parisian company’s repertoire. Aurelie Dupont was dancing on the 21st of February when I attended, perched on a balcony seat just over stage right.
The funny thing is, almost two years ago, I was at the same theater watching the same ballet, but couldn’t stand to stay after the first act, let alone the following two (it’s a 3 hour show with 2 entractes). My excuse? I was recovering from heavy wisdom-tooth surgery and felt like I had a brass ball attached to my face, and was completely unable to enjoy the beauty of the spectacle for all the painkillers they had me stuffed with. So I was more than thrilled to return this winter for a second chance.
The story is about love, devotion, loss, solitude and human emotion. Neumeier’s carefully crafted choreography seizes all of the desire and pain that pours out of the heroine’s heart like so many tears that smeared my mascara as the end drew near. Chopin’s notes give the ballet wings, and lifts it beyond the ordinary; the costumes by Jürgen Rose wisk you away from contemporary Paris and into another time, a time of elegance and grace that seems only a fantasy to us now; and the whole accented with lighting by Rolf Warter… the effect was enthralling.
I forgot to scrutinize and critique the dancers’ feet, I omitted to count pirouettes, I hardly remembered to notice the patterns in the choreography… I was so engaged within the story and the characters. In front of a full house, Aurelie Dupont was not only stunningly beautiful, and she did more than give us great technique, perfect steps, timing and stage presence, she gave everything. She put every ounce of herself into Marguerite Gautier and she took my breath away.

Today being the final show for the season, you also will have to wait for your second chance to see this stunning spectacle at the Opera Garnier Paris. Until then…