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Love and Death in Paris, With an Assist From Star-Crossed Verona

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PARIS — Love in the first fiery flare of passion is the subject of Benjamin Millepied’s Romeo and Juliet Suite. Rock concert-sized audience at La Seine Musicale here.And death is the subject of Alan Lucien Owen New work “Cri de Coeur” The Paris Opera ballet season kicked off on Tuesday at the Palais Garnier.

Both dances play with ideas of theatricality and reality in their stories. Both use manual cameras and film footage projected onto giant screens to provide an up-close glimpse of the dancers on and off stage.

But the works bear little resemblance. For Millepied, tightly condensed narrative is the driving force of expressive and emotional physicality. For Oyen, movement is just one of many elements that tell a rambling, rambling story.

“Suite Romeo and Juliet” by Millepied LA Dance Project Set in a taped selection from Prokofiev’s score is a lean account of Shakespeare’s story that assumes some knowledge of the plot and uses film to augment and enhance drama. His 12 of his 16 dancers in the company represent warring families, with no apparent difference. Only Romeo, Juliet, Tybalt and Mercutio are identified. The costume (Camille Asaf) is simple streetwear. There is no landscape, hostile parents, Paris (whose suitor Juliet rejects), or Friar Lawrence as unconscious catalysts of tragedy.

As yet another story, Millepied’s Romeo and Juliet are not necessarily male and female. A cast of three is playing the title role during the 11-show run, which ends on Sunday. A heterosexual couple, two men and two women. A roadster of heterosexual passion, a version so often seen by Macmillan, John Cranko, or Rudolf Nureyev, it’s a powerful thing to see expressed in ballet.

As far as I can tell after seeing the fantastic female cast (Daphne Fernberger and Nayomi Van Brandt) on Sunday and the amazing male duo (David Adrian Freeland Jr. and Mario Gonzalez) on Wednesday. is a partnership for choreographers and couples. And inevitably there were differences in movement — taller, more muscular men were larger, more space-eating in nature, more ballet in presentation — the overall feel of the piece and its central tragedy was It felt like nothing had changed.

The work opens with an empty red-lit raised stage, a lone sofa in the center, and a Rothko-effect red-orange screen behind. First, we’ll see the dancers behind the scenes through a Steadicam projection operated by Sebastian Markovici, Associate Director of LA Dance Project. But once they’re on stage, the story progresses quickly and efficiently, with the camera augmenting the crowd and fight scenes, adding overhead shots that show the pattern of the crowd of dancers across the stage. Video his artist Olivier his simola is recognized as an artistic collaborator.)

After Romeo and Juliet meet, the camera goes out and follows them, plummeting in massive close-up detail onto the screen, displaying an ecstatic pas de deux. (In the 3,200-seat hall, a passionate and very real kiss by male lovers was followed by a slightly tense silence followed by moving applause.)

The on-stage film, as the images multiply and blur, alludes to memories, hallucinations, and threats in all sorts of ways, and one-on-one battle scenes and their aftermath can also be seen frighteningly real. is. When Tybalt (the ominous Vinicius Silva) pulls a knife on Fernberger’s dancing Romeo, the male-on-female violence feels far more terrifying than when he attacks Freeland in another cast.

Throughout, the camera reinforces the dance with its partner rather than dominating it. (Malkovich displays his own virtuosity as he moves around the performers.) Millepied’s vocabulary is essentially ballet, but with a down-to-earth, loose-limbed quality and exuberance. kinetic energy is incorporated. One can question this “Romeo” narrative abstraction, but it’s the movement and the company’s uniformly fine dance version that carries the story.

Homosexuality is seldom really presented to this extent on the mainstream dance stage. (Even Matthew Bourne’s famous “Swan Lake,” an all-male swan corps de ballet, remained murky on the matter.) In this “Romeo and Juliet,” , it is important that it is not indicated as important.

Narrative and film are also important elements of Oyen’s Cri de Coeur. This is perhaps the most important commissioned work of the season by Aurélie Dupont, former artistic director of the Paris Opera Ballet, who mysteriously resigned in June. (His successor has not yet been appointed. The Parisian ballet world is buzzing with rumors.) But Oyen is not interested in linear narratives. Also, like most choreographers commissioned by DuPont during his six-year tenure, he has no interest in ballet. technology.

Oyen’s approach is firmly grounded in Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater tradition, and in many ways Cri de Coeur was his 2018 production for Bausch’s company Tanztheater Wuppertal. Similar to the work “Bon Voyage, Bob …”. As with “Bon Voyage,” he has eclectic music and Mobile sets such as the kitchen, bedroom, and living room move in and out of the exposed stage. There are also dioramas of mountains and countryside, sometimes with dancers posing like tableau wax figures.

The diorama represents the universal theme of the work: death. It is also the theme of Bon Voyage, in which Oyen uses the veteran Wuppertal player Helena Picon, here to play the mother of a young woman (Marion Barbeau) with a fatal illness. increase. “Cri de Coeur” has a Bauskian structure in a series of vignettes. People deliver lines interspersed with dance to declare their thoughts and feelings.

Much is said, much does not happen. An imaginary companion called “Nobody” (Antonin Monnier) is dating Marion (as in Bausch’s work, the performers are referred to by their real names). Unlucky Lauren Levy hisses and eats flies (why?) while incarnated as a lizard.

There is also the sting of saying anything about the theatricality and the nature of reality.In group therapy sessions, performers introduce themselves as dancers at the Paris Opera Ballet, alluding to the ballet’s hierarchy, and discussing behind-the-scenes flamboyance. Step into the Foyer de la Dance.

“Not everything on stage is false. Everything in life is not true,” someone says near the beginning. (There were about three hours left until the end.)

The talking dancers do reasonably well (the recent starring Barbeau Cedric Klapish’s movie “Rise” Aside from mediocre texts, it is because it is impossible to apply Bausch’s method. It’s been used for reflection and refinement throughout the years – as if it were a formula that applies in every context, to artists who have no experience with this process.

The dance, with its Bauskian upper-body fluidity, Mats Ek-esque touches of deep bends, and William Forsyth-inspired partnerships, is great. There is none.

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