The final night of this gala performed by the Paris Opera Ballet – the oldest national ballet company in the world, founded in 1669 by Louis XIV of France – was a grand spectacle featuring the award-winning Dorothée Gilbert, the group’s “Etoile” star dancer, who has previously performed the roles of Kitrin in Don Quixote and Clara in The Nutcracker, both choreographed by the legendary Rudolf Nureyev.
The night got underway after the predominantly French and uber-chic crowd took their seats a little after 8pm. From the opening bars of the very first performance – Marion Barbeau, Alice Catonnet and Germain Louvet performing the classic Paquita, Pas de Trois, Act I, choreographed by Pierre Lacotte – it was clear we were in for a treat.
From the classic ballet poses to the pirouettes, everything oozed perfection and the graceful fluidity in the movement of every dancer took our breath away.
The female dancers were like swans, as fluid as if moving through water. Looking as light as a feather when lifted by her male counterpart and fluttering through the air like one as she danced, Gilbert shone like the “Etoile” she is, in her performance of Act II of Giselle with Hugo Marchand, who danced in the role of her lover Albrecht. That final, moving dance scene at Giselle’s grave was performed hauntingly and beautifully by the pair – Gilbert expertly made up to look the part, all hollow and ghost-like.
But it wasn’t just a feast of traditional, classical dance. Towards the end of Part One, Charline Giezendanner and Florent Melac performed In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, a piece that juxtaposed traditional moves with modern dance, choreographed by William Forsythe in 1987, on commission by Nureyev. Despite being almost 30 years old, the “modern” aspect of this dance still felt contemporary and relevant, bold and futuristic, just as the jaunty moves must have felt back in the ’80s.
With the soundtrack being a cacophony of clashing industrial sounds, with each modern dance move and classic ballet spin, the emotion of the piece was expressed expertly and the audience was enraptured. It was a truly alluring performance.
Part Two of the show was much shorter than the first half and saw two performances, compared to the six that made up Part One. It began with Amoveo – the metamorphosis of a love story and its effect on the couple and their companions, danced delightfully and elegantly by Gilbert and Marchand.
The grand finale of the gala saw the dancers’ personalities shine through in Mi Favorita, the first choreographed piece of work by Jose Martinez, which injected humour, wit and bravado into a technically difficult piece wonderfully executed by Charline Giezendanner, Hannah O’Neil, Letizia Galloni, Marc Moreau, Germain Louvet, and Pablo Legasa. It got the audience laughing out loud and was a brilliantly light-hearted performance on which to end the show.
Each act was slick, precise and impressive – a true show of professionalism that had us all in the audience in awe of the passion (at every level) that goes into staging such a show.
Perfection is clearly a word the Paris Opera Ballet take seriously, which made the performances on the night stunning.
Dhs250-495. Fri January 8, 8pm-10pm. Madinat Theatre, Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim (04 366 6546).
The bottom line
If the opportunity to see the company dance arises, we highly recommend you seize it.