• Julia Sumzina

The Tibute to Jerome Robbins by Paris Opera Ballet

In the series of reviews on the shows by Paris Opera Ballet available for audience during the quarantine time I would like to continue with Tribute to Jerome Robbins (from 08 November 2018) which now can be watched thanks to www.operadeparis.fr and France TV.


Jerome Robbins (1918 –1998) was an American choreographer, who worked a lot with George Balancine, director, dancer, and theater producer in classical ballet, in theatre, film, and television. So... there are few pieces by Robbins in the evening dedicated to his creative heritage:


Fancy Free Fancy Free is a ballet to a score by Leonard Bernstein. The premiere took place on Tuesday, 18 April 1944 at the old Metropolitan Opera House, New York. The New York City Ballet premiere took place Thursday, 31 January 1980. Fancy Free was the inspiration for a successful musical, On the Town, and the score was also used in the opening scenes of Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window. In 1957 Bernstein and Robbins premiered West Side Story at Broadway’s Winter Garden Theatre. The songs and the choreography became really iconic. Then in1961, Jerome Robbins co-directed the film with Robert Wise made all the dance scenes in accordance with his own style. The spirit of Fancy Free is noticeable in several sequences there. In the Tribute by Paris Opera Facy Fee was amazingly performed by Eleonora Abbagnato, Alice Renavand, Karl Paquette, Stéphane Bullion and François Alu. The atmosphere of American 1940s with jazz music, beautiful women and a little bit drunk sailors flirting with them was shown charming and nostalgic. This ballet is also quite physical and dynamic, so it's very interesting to look at high-class dancers doing the choreography by Jerome Robbins on the Parisian stage.


A Suite of Dances This ballet for the duo of only one dancing soloist and a cellist performing the music was made by Jerome Robbins for Mikhail Baryshnikov to four movements from Bach's Six suites. The premiere performance was in March 1994 at the Baryshnikov's White Oak Dance Project, then the New York City Ballet premiere was on 10 May of that year at the New York State Theater, Lincoln Center. Mathias Heymann is not the first French performer of this piece, Nicholas Le Riche showed the audience his Suite in 2008. Heymann in the Tribute was simple but magnetic, calm and natural in his movements and feeling of music.


Afternoon of a Faun Afternoon of a Faun (or French: L'Après-midi d'un faune) was created by Robbins to Debussy's Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune. The premiere took place on 14 May 1953 at City Center of Music and Drama, New York, then it has been performed in several theatres by different ballet companies, but especially it is famous in the USA. Robbins' setting differs from the original version by Vaslav Nijinsky by placing the protagonist in some kind of ballet studio, the Faun has no special make-up or costume but Hugo Marchand in the duo with Amandine Albisson made it intimate and absolutely fascinating. Hugo with his strength and plastique is an ideal incarnation of the beauty of nature. His Faun is and very warm with the nymph, but we can feel his instincts and the power of ancient god. Amandine, graceful in all her gentle movements, is not only a mythical creature but beautiful and strong woman.


Glass Pieces This ballet was made for New York City Ballet ballet to Philip Glass' "Rubric" and "Façades" from Glassworks and excerpts from his opera Akhnaten in 1983. It is stylish, energetic and really modern with the spirit of 1980s, 1990s, even nowadays. We all are living in this, it is the ballet of our time, and our manner of expression. In the Tribute you can see the performance by Sae Eun Park, Paul Marque and other dancers.


So, from 13th April you can watch all these ballets by Jerome Robbins on www.operadeparis.fr. Stay tuned! Text: Julia Sumzina, @js_artsreview Photo: Sébastien Mathé, OnP Video: Opéra national de Paris

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