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Glimpses #3: Paris in New York

Here in the States we all know Brigitte Lefèvre, head of the Paris Opera Ballet, thanks to Frederick Wiseman’s documentary on the venerable company, La Danse.  She’s a woman who knows how to take charge.  At a press conference hosted by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, she tells us about the company’s upcoming American tour, which will bring it to New York July 11-22.

Encountering her live, your attention is seized by her exquisitely shaped hands, which move with a ballerina’s grace.  Turns out she was a petit rat at the POB’s academy, entering at 8½, graduating into the company at 16, and soon manifesting a parallel interest in dancing outside the classical vein.

Though she claims not to speak English, she listens keenly to her translator’s English précis of her remarks, and understands something of the audience’s questions.  “What exactly is the French style?” she’s asked. She emphasizes its classical purity, adding, “Il faut le voir pour le comprendre” (You have to see it to understand).  And so we will.

© 2012 Tobi Tobias


  1. http://joanna%20ney says

    Very excited to see that the Paris Opera Ballet is coming to New York this summer. It has been years since its last visit. I know what Brigitte Lefèvre means by the company’s classical purity because it seems to be a state of mind as well as body. Hoping to breathe in the atmosphere and admire the style, which I think of as simultaneously cool and passionate.

    • http://Julia%20Prospero says

      As always, I agree with Joanna. Looking forward so much to see the company. Much too long since their last visit.

      In reflection to Domique Delouche’s brilliant film on Balanchine in Paris, the opening presentation in Dance on Film a few month’s ago, introduced and curated by Ms. Ney. It would be a reminder to revisit Paris Opera Ballet’s style and the essence of the company.

  2. http://Martha%20Ullman%20West says

    Let’s hope Lefèvre brings some of the rep that allows those dancers to demonstrate that “simultaneously cool and passionate style,” rather than the épater le classique stuff that was shown in the Wiseman film. I remember with particular horreur a contemporary take on Graham’s Cave of the Heart; I’ve suppressed the name of the choreographer.

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