NYCB in Paris

Americans have stormed the Bastille!

Well, only figuratively…The New York City Ballet has been invited to open the 2008-09 Season with a series of performances at the Bastille Opera from September 9 to 21.

This is the first time in 43 years that the NYCB has performed in Paris and the first time ever that a visiting company has been invited to perform on stage at the Bastille Opera. For this momentous occasion, the City ballet has put together four programs celebrating four of our greatest choreographers: George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Peter Martin and Christopher Wheeldon.

In turn, France’s premiere company Ballet de l’Opera will pay homage to Robbins with performances at the Palais Garnier from September 20 to 30.

The production of this wonderful series will be celebrated at a Gala Soirée in the Grand Ballroom of the Palais Garnier by the American Friends of the Paris Ballet & Opera and its French counterpart Les Amis de l’Opera. This black tie event is sponsored by Tiffany & Co.

As a fan of the Paris ballet and a proud American, I purchased tickets to all of these performances. I will attend the Gala Soirée on September 18 as well.

Last night was the first of the four programs, which consisted of three pieces choreographed by Balanchine: Divertimento No. 15 (Mozart), Episodes (Webern) and Suite No. 3 (Tschaikovsky).

I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, an expert in dance. I have never studied it and I have never performed it. I can, however, comment on the quality of the spectacle. It was magical!

The program opened with a classical dance performance to Mozart. I have always loved Divertimento No. 15. It instills in me a sense of calm and ease. Seeing this piece of music interpreted to dance was particularly rewarding. The dancers wore traditional costumes in pale shades of blue and gold. In my view, it was an intentional nod to the royal colors of France.

The second piece, entitled Episodes, was contemporary and hypnotizing. The dancers wore white tights and black leotards. Their movements were geometric and angled. It reminded me of Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire in Funny Face.

The final piece, Tschaikovsky’s Suite No. 3, was dreamlike. It was performed behind a screen that created the sense of haze. The dancers wore a combination of costumes ranging from flowing gowns in pastel shades of pink, purple and blue to traditional tutus in celadon and peach. They looked like delicious macaroons dancing across the stage.
The photo does not do justice. It is quite dark, but it was the best I could do given the restrictions.

For two and half hours, the City Ballet wow'd a sold-out house. The evening ended in resounding applause and spectators howling "Bravo!" at the top of their lungs.

Tonight, I will see the second program and I can hardly wait


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