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Sunday, January 29, 2023

National Ballet of Marseille celebrates its fiftieth 12 months with a Paris programme

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Some anniversaries are tougher to have a good time than others. The National Ballet of Marseille turns 50 this 12 months, however since its early years below the neoclassical choreographer Roland Petit, its historical past has been considerably erratic.

In the early 2000s, it moved away from classical method altogether, with the up to date dancemakers Frédéric Flamand and later Emio Greco & Pieter Scholten on the helm. In 2019, La(Horde), a younger collective with a background in jumpstyle (an digital dance-flavoured style), was appointed to revive the corporate’s declining fortunes.

It has achieved a measure of success, as its present Paris season (at Théâtre de la Ville’s La Villette) demonstrates. The first of three programmes, a combined invoice dedicated to the Portuguese choreographer Tânia Carvalho, was uneven however infused with a way of firm spirit. Given the dancers’ eclectic backgrounds, from ballet to hip-hop, that is no small feat, and Carvalho’s one creation for this group, One of Four Periods in Time (Ellipsis), used it to its benefit.

Tânia Carvalho’s ‘Xylographie’ © Thierry Hauswald

There is a studied weirdness to Carvalho’s type. Any sense of circulate tends to be scuppered by mannered, frozen poses, full with open mouths and useless eyes. There are quite a lot of them within the first a part of One of Four Periods in Time (Ellipsis), which finds the 15-strong group in frilly attire and purple socks. Yet as soon as Carvalho does away with the attire, momentum builds. Lone figures carry out abrupt jumps and arabesques, then, one after the other, they be a part of the group, shuffling in direction of us, their arms carving out neat geometric shapes.

The different two works had been firm premieres. In As If I Could Stay There Forever, a 10-minute solo, a lady in a black gown lets her arms do a lot of the speaking. Alternatively hesitant and guaranteed, they dart, swing and transfer as if connected to puppet strings. Oddly, it was carried out by Carvalho herself, which appears to defeat the purpose of including it to an organization’s repertoire.

Xylographie, the second group piece, was first carried out by the Lyon Opera Ballet. Its halted variations on dainty, birdlike ballet arms appear much less convincing now, maybe as a result of it unwittingly highlights the National Ballet of Marseille’s difficult relationship to its classical previous.

No tribute to Petit, who led it for 1 / 4 of a century, seems to be deliberate and, in fact, the phrase “ballet” ought to be dropped from the corporate’s identify. Much just like the British firm Rambert, which rebranded consistent with its up to date id, the French ensemble ought to method the subsequent half-century because the Marseille Dance Company.

★★★☆☆

To May 22, theatredelaville-paris.com

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