Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Gabriel Yared - Clavigo / Le Riche Osta Gillot Bridard Saiz Petit Bernas Paris Ballet|
Actors: Yann Saiz, Nicolas Le Riche, Clairemarie Osta, Yann Bridard, Marie-Agnes Gillot
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Special Interests, Television, Educational, Musicals & Performing Arts
Inspired by Goethe?s early romantic play Clavigo, Roland Petit?s ballet recounts the agonies of a weak-willed lover torn between the contradictory promptings of his heart and his evil spirit, which urges him to serve his o... more »
Petit meets Goethe; wonderful dancing
Ivy Lin | NY NY | 05/14/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In the pantheons of 20th century ballet (after Fokine), there was the master of the abstract and idealized, George Balanchine, and there was everyone else. In Balanchine ballets, even the narrative ones, feelings are idealized and sublimated in the spirit of dance. In the 1950's and 1960's, there emerged a group of European choreographers who decided to be self-consciously anti-Balanchine. Kenneth MacMillan and John Cranko were two of the most prominent. They created what could be called veristic ballet, consisting of emotionally fraught pas de deuxs, where drama often trumped the formal rules classical ballet. Their works (Manon, Mayerling, Onegin) became enormously popular in ballet companies around the world.
Roland Petit I like to think of as the half-brother of Cranko and MacMillan. His ballets lie in between the realism of Cranko/MacMillan and the stylized abstraction of modern dance. Excerpts from his ballets have always been ubiquitous in any ballet gala (has there been a ballet gala in recent memory without the Carmen pas de deux)? His full-length works, however (except for perhaps Carmen) are rarely staged outside France. Clavigo is a chance to see an actual full-length staged Petit work, danced by the ever-glamorous Paris Opera Ballet, where the personal beauty requirements seem absurdly high even compared to other appearance-obsessed ballet companies. In other words: if you are not fit to be on the cover of a glossy fashion magazine, you are not fit to be an etoile. The score is by Gabriel Yared, who has composed the soundtracks to several films. Yared's score, in the beloved tradition of commissioned ballet scores (from the awful Drigo/Pugni jingles to so many 20th century works) is serviceable without being memorable. It works well for the ballet, but I wouldn't pay money to hear it elsewhere.
The events of the ballet were actually inspired by real events. The French playwright Beaumarchais had a younger sister was was seduced and abandoned by a Spaniard Casanova named Jos? Clavijo y Farjardo. Goethe in turn wrote a play about this lady-killer. Clavigo is (very loosely) based on the Goethe play about the love of the innocent Marie (Clairemarie Osta) for the dissolute Spaniard Clavigo (Nicholas LeRiche, her real-life husband). Clavigo, in the tradition of ballet heros, is faithless (tempted by his evil friend Carlo of course), and falls for the Siren/Stranger (Marie-Agnes Gillot). Marie dies of a broken heart, and Marie's brother challenges Clavigo to a duel, and Clavigo is killed.
Despite the 18th century inspirations, Petit's setting is very postmodern. Bare white stage, white dresses, baroque white suits for the men. The issue with Petit's choreography is he doesn't really know how to choreograph for more than two or three people. (This weakness was also apparent, although, to a lesser extent, in the works of Cranko and MacMillan). The opening scene, a party where Clavigo and Marie meet, is only worthy for the dance of attraction between Clavigo and Marie, which includes a very long lip-lock. Other than that, the scene is way too long, with identical-looking couples standing around and dancing aimlessly to screechy music. There is some vague attempt by Petit to imitate formal Regency-era dancing (the kind you inevitably see ad nauseum in all Jane Austen films) but these attempts are half-hearted. The second scene has Clavigo in some sort of brothel, and again the issue emerges: whenever more than two people are dancing, Petit's choreography becomes arch, repetitive, and ultimately boring.
Then why am I giving this dvd so many stars? It's because what Petit does well, he does very well. Namely, eroticism. There is usually no room for sex in Balanchine ballets -- he idealized women too much. Petit may not know what to do with a corps de ballet, but he knows how to choreograph stylish and inventive solos and duets, which may be the reason why dancers love his ballets. Clavigo's best scene is in Marie's bed, and she has a beautiful, intense solo that expresses her longing for Clavigo. In her dreams, a man descends in a spidery fashion, and this turns out to be Clavigo. It turns into an intense pas de deux. Is any of this original? No. To be specific, Fokine's Spectre a la Rose is a much more G-rated version of this theme, and Cranko's Onegin also has an intense dream pas de deux between Tatiana and Onegin. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy watching Marie seduced by Clavigo. This is the kind of thing Petit does very well. The final pas de deux between Marie and Clavigo is equally effective.
Part of this may be the dancing. The etoiles of Paris Opera Ballet do not disappoint. LeRiche and Osta are married in real life, and they have spellbinding chemistry as the lovers. Osta is perfect at expressing the mixture of passion and innocence of Marie, and LeRiche is occasionally over-the-top, but Petit was never meant to be under-the-top. The best scenes of the ballet are the ones with Marie (Osta). Marie-Agnes Gillot as the Stranger is the opposite of the petite, doe-eyed Osta. Gillot is tall and sultry-looking, and of course she is dressed in a strapless red gown, and comes onstage liteally circled by a throng of admiring men, as if she were at a stripbar. (Again, subtlety is not Petit's strong suit.) At one point, she crawls between the legs of Carlos (Yann Bridards) and Clavigo. She certainly is very seductive, although closeups reveal that she's saddled with what appears to be a curly black toupee that sits atop her neat French twist. LeRiche has one final prolonged death solo, which LeRiche dances with properly over-the-top agony.
So in other words, Clavigo is not subtle, it is not even original, but it is a dramatically effective dance-theatre, albeit stylized and at times cliched. And this dvd is recommended because it does showcase three excellent dancers, namely, Osta, LeRiche, and Gillot."
AnA | 03/09/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are few people who can make modern dance to be not just a combination of moves, even fewer who keep your constant attention. This is a unic performance! Bravo!"