Notes & Reviews:
Paris Opera Ballet Master and choreographer Patrice Bart and composer Denis Levailant plunge into Opera's past to bring Degas' famous statuette to life. In the research that followed, Bart began to wonder about the identity of the model. The investigation revealed that La Petite Danseuse (age 14) was Marie Van Goethem, daughter of Belgian parents who settled with their three daughters in a poor district of Paris. After the death of the father, the mother survived by enrolling the daughters at the Paris Opera Ballet School and by sending them to pose for artists in their studios. This story was nothing less than the starting point for a wider exploration to which Degas' work remains the perfect testimony.
Denis Levaillant's interesting mix of tonal and atonal music - sometimes gleaming, diamond-hard and often favouring batteries of percussion, particularly xylophone and tubular bells - spans many styles from the baroque to modernism and jazy figures via Late Romanticism and Impressionism.
An inspired and visually ravishing creation. This ballet deserves to go from success to success.
Run Time: 132 min.
Picture Format: NTSC, 16:9, Color
Sound Format(s): LPCM Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: French, English, German, Spanish, Italian
The story is of the girl who posed for the famous statue by Degas, La Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans. The sets, though somewhat minimalist, are stunning; the costumes are beautiful and completely appropriate for this ballet. The formations that are made throughout the ballet, combined with the sets and costumes, display living Degas paintings. One of the scenes in the first act, a ballet class, is a model of one of the famous studios at the Paris Opera Ballet, where Degas painted. Seeing the dancers take a class in their costumes, which of course correspond to those of Degas' paintings, give me goosebumps.
The principal dancers are all stunning and portray their dramatic roles very well. Most notably, Clairemarie Osta, as the The Little Dancer, and Benjamin Pech, as The Man in Black, an ominous, omnipresent, complex, and dramatic figure that represents destiny and perhaps, Degas himself. The Man in Black has the job of showing the audience that destiny always catches up with people. In this case, destiny wouldn't let The Little Dancer achieve her dreams. Instead, she would be frozen in time and be immortal, as a work of art. The corps de ballet of the Paris Opera shine in this production as well, as the choreography gives everyone room to flaunt their perfection in a slightly new format.
The music is perhaps the most modern thing about the ballet. A blend of harmonious classical rhythms with xylophones, little-used instruments, and jazz, they complete the portrait of late 19th-century upper-class Paris, and the people, such as The Little Dancer, that must suffer the loss of their dreams due to the hierarchy.
In total, the ballet is a real gem. Classical works can still be made and be successful, and this has been displayed wonderfully in the case of Le Petite Danseuse de Degas. In addition to the ballet, the DVD provides a series of interviews, lasting around 20 minutes, that describe the creative process behind the ballet, and are very interesting to view. This DVD is a must-have for fans of ballet, it's a new classic which will make a lasting historical impact in the repertoire of the Paris Opera Ballet.
Submitted on 10/11/11 by danrubin06
Works DetailsLevaillant, Denis : Work(s)
- Performers: Clariemarie Ost (Dancer); Jose Martinez (Dancer); Dorothee Gilbert (Dancer); Mathiew Ganio (Dancer)
- Conductor: Koen Kessels
- Ensemble: Paris National Opera Orchestra