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Ballet Nice Méditerranée

by Saul Marziali

January 20, 2010 -- Opéra de Nice, Nice, France

Together with Gabriella Frezza, the director of the new high school for ballet in Sanremo, I had the chance to watch a program presented by the "Ballet Nice Méditerrannée", which is the new name for the former "Ballet de l'Opera de Nice". Eric Vu An, one of the most shining Etoiles of the Paris Opera under the direction of Rudolf Nureyev, has been directing the company since September 2009. In the Christmas season of 2008, I was invited to dance the Oriental pas de deux in “Nutcracker”, and I must say that the company at that time, without a director, wasn't really at the top of their form. Anarchism was the tendency, maybe not even consciously, but ballet without a daily work and corrections doesn't really lead to success. Like Messerer used to say: " you miss 1 day, it's fine, 2 days it's only you that feels it but not the others, 3 days everyone notices it!"

So, I was happily surprised to see the amazing progress that the company has made in such a short time, and I can confirm that a new warm and nice wind is blowing in that direction again. I saw and felt great motivation, passion and joy for dance from most of the dancers, that is so necessary in order to make any small or big movement, jump, or expression credible and extraordinary. Therefore, please, keep going like this, don't give up!

The curtain rose, and we watched "Conservatoire",  choreographed by Eric Vu An after Bournonville, "Les Sylphides"(1909) also choreographed by Eric Vu An after Fokine, "L'après-midi d'un faune" (1912) choreographed by Nijinski and danced by Eric Vu An and "Allegro Brillante" (1956) choreographed by  Balanchine.

Eric Vu An's interpretation of the Faune was touching, reflecting sensuality, musicality and intelligence -- briefly, a real masterpiece of art. All his movements were precisely measured, never too much or too little, a sign of a great respect and understanding of the intention of the choreographer and interpreter, namely the great Nijinski. At the same time, I believe it is certainly exemplary and admirable to have such an inspiration as director not only in the ballet studio, but also on stage! Nowadays, it's more important then ever to show to the younger generations, what an aura and presence on stage is. These qualities are unfortunately near extinction. The "Faune" was a great success, a lot of bravos and long applause for the great artist Eric Vu An!

The other big success of the evening was Mr. B.’s "Allegro". I had the chance to dance this beautiful masterpiece twice in my career and I am really thankful to the Balanchine Trust for giving me that gift. So, I know the piece very well and I can proudly affirm, that the ballet was danced really well. It's a hard and fast ballet for everyone, 4 couples and solo couple, but also an inspiring one. Tchaikovski’s 2nd Piano Concerto, is one of my favorites, a musical piece that really expresses joy, energy and lust for life.  Cinthia Labaronne, guest soloist from "Ballet de Marseille" but born in Argentina, was magnificent. Fast and slow, jazzy and academic, precise and musical, charming and sparkling, feminine and determined!  "Allegro" was a remarkable success.

 Also memorable were  Paula De Castro's interpretation  in "Les Sylphides" and the accompaniment of pianist Elisabeth Cooper. De Castro had all the qualities and experience required for that delicate role. I have seen this ballet danced many times, including interpretations by Galina Ulanova and Natalia Bessmertnova. Paula was able to add her honorable interpretation to this role. She was very inspired, soulful,  and she danced very lightly. Her technique was precise and her lines pure. Any detail was a result of a hard and intelligent work. Nice, a pleasure! Elisabeth Cooper played Chopin and "Conservatoire " with sensibility and always in connection with the dancers on stage. This contributed a lot to the great results of the evening and what can I say more then bravo and congratulations to everyone involved in this program!

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