Paris Opera Ballet

November 10, 2006

Paris Opera Ballet
Palais Garnier, Paris, France

November 10–18, 2006

Review by Karyn Bauer-Prévost

Clairemarie Osta and Mathieu Ganio of Ballet de l’Opéra national de Paris in Benjamin Millepied’s Amoveo

Photo by Anne Deniau, courtesy Paris Opéra Ballet

“Ambitious” and “poetic” were words used to describe New York City Ballet’s Benjamin Millepied when he made his Paris début with the world premiere of Amoveo. Featured in an international fall showcase alongside Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato and his Canadian counterpart Edouard Lock, Millepied demonstrated that he is indeed the most American of French choreographers.

Amoveo evolves in a succession of duos, trios, a quartet, and group movements inspired by both classical and energetic contemporary repertoires. The computer-generated designs by Paul Cox provided a modern backdrop for the dancers, including Clairemarie Osta and Mathieu Ganio, who were the incarnation of love itself. Transcending the group, their romantic duo was timeless and soaring. Although a visual throwback to antiquity, Marc Jacobs’ beige costumes were enhanced with a glittering touch of modernity.

Robert Wilson and Philip Glass’ Einstein on the Beach provided the inspiration for this romantic exploration of love. Portions of the score, reorchestrated for voice, flute, violin, and organ, were performed by the Rouen-based Accentus choir under the direction of the remarkable 25-year-old Nico Muhly. The echoing voices of the choir, below the evolving circular movements of the dancers, with the backdrop’s colorful graphics, gave this work a three-dimensional feel, much like the high-rises in Millepied’s adopted city of New York.

Duato’s and Lock’s works stretched the POB dancers to dizzying new technical limits with feverishly daring, muscular works. Lock’s AndréAuria, first applauded here in 2002, wooed spectators with its rapidity and virtuosity. The visually sparse, dimly lit stage, bordered with sharply contrasting white lace, framed the dancers’ frenetic gestures. Atypically vertical and vertiginous, the dancers’ rapid movements were punctuated by David Lang’s original staccato and rapid-fire score, performed live by two onstage pianists.

Duato’s emotionally charged White Darkness (2001) was unanimously acclaimed in its first run at the Palais Garnier. A riveting exploration of the catastrophic perils of drug addiction, the performance was neither pathetic nor judgmental. In 20 short minutes, Duato interlaced a succession of duos and trios, focusing on Manuel Legris, who watched his kindred succumb to their addictions one by one. The drama culminated in a cocaine-induced death portrayed by the stunning Alice Renavand, in one of her first principal roles. See