Le Pavillon d'Armide & Sacre - revisited: Vienna State Ballet, March 28th 2019
It is always a beautiful experience to rewatch certain works. Especially in a more „relaxed“ atmosphere – Opening nights are never „relaxed“ - in order to pay more attention to details. In this particular occasion I had not seen this programme since its Première in Vienna on February 19th, 2017 and was quite amazed to realize that this was only its 9th performance in over two years...
I am not really such a big Neumeier „follower“. Sometimes I have the feeling that there is something missing in his work. I don't see, how could I call it, a „continuity“ in it. As for continuity I mean a kind of constant development line, step by step, from work to work. For me, they are brilliant works of Art but they are strongly separated from each other in what choreographical style and story-telling are concerned. I have the feeling (but it is just a feeling) that it all depends on the person or teams who are responsible for the dramaturgy. But I have researched this matter through and through and cannot find any names related to Mr Neumeier's work, which were responsible for the dramaturgical side. To make this point clear, I just need to mention the story-telling lines of „Joseph's Legend“, „Sacre“, „La Dame aux Camelias“ and „Le Pavillon D'Armide“ to name just a few: they have very little in common and could have been the work of four different choreographers. I would like to know who was responsible for these scenarios! But that is just my opinion to which I must repeat that they are brilliant works of Art on their own.
Researching about that (dramaturgy, scenarios etc.) I came to some valuable information, which I cannot explain. Mr Neumeier's work was NEVER performed by the Royal Ballet. I could also not find any information about that...
„Le Pavillon D'Armide“ delights me because of the „story behind the story“ - in a way that makes me think of Ken Russell's Masterpiece „The Boyfriend“ with its (in this case) „backstage story behind the story“. The work is filled with information, nearly too much information, which makes it impossible for somebody who is not well-informed about Nijinsky's life and career to understanding it completely. Think for example of the „past“: Armide, Danse siamoise, Karsavina, Baldina and even Nijinsky himself in two different phases of his life...
Two dancers that make very hard to „imagine“ other dancers in the roles they have danced and made „their own“: NIna Poláková and Roman Lazik.
Miss Poláková in a very emotional interpretation of Romola – leading him „through life“ - that is cleverly mixed with Armide in the past. Also to mention the duality suggested by a (also very emotional) Mr Lazik as the Doctor and Diaghilev.
In both cases, these „mixtures“ of characters make me always think very strongly of Marguerite and Manon in „La Dame“. Two sensitive dancers portraying sensitive roles - what can be so beautiful as that?
Maria Yakovleva developed her Karsavina into a magical creature. One surely feels the sense of style, which she dedicated to this role. Her past at the Vaganova Academy and the few years at the Mariinsky gave her this priceless knowledge. I was again quite impressed by her arched arms which gave the distinct impression of being led by her elbows. Style. Knowledge.
Natascha Mair made the best of the „less glamorous“ role of Alexandra Baldina and used her defined lines and precision to the best. Richard Szabó displayed the young Nijinsky in a special way which has much to thank his clean, flawless technique. Denys Cherevychko communicated a great stylish joy to the audience with his „ performing Nijinsky“ and Davide Dato was simply breathtaking in the Dance siamoise!
Last but not least: Jakob Feyferlik. I had not seen him in this very sensitive role and was not quite sure as what to expect of his interpretation – perhaps because of his young age. But as soon as he appeared on stage all my doubts were gone. In full command of the role, both dramatically and technically, he “brought down the house“. A performance to be remembered.
The second part of the show has an interesting story for me.
Originally I wanted to watch this performance with Nikisha Fogo on March 20th but I became ill and, after contacting the press office, I had to postpone my visit to the show. I did not know at the time that Miss Fogo also became ill and could not dance that day. As a ticket was arranged for me for the 28th I was also very excited to see this piece with Ketevan Papava – but she became ill and Miss Fogo jumped in on short notice. As one can see: coincidences do not exist and this „was meant to be“.
I won't go much into details except for saying that it was visible for me how much „long hair“ is important for this piece... don't laugh about that. I really mean it. The best example is Eszter Ledán with her (very) long hair. A little detail that makes the wild, earthy and even visceral side of choreography much more transparent. Girls with short, more stylish hairdos do not really fit in.
Applause to all featured „main“ dancers, especially Fiona McGee, Sveva Gargiulo, Dumitru Taran and, of course, Miss Ledán. Masayu Kimoto also gave a brilliant début in the piece.
But the biggest applause of all go to Géraud Wielick and Nikisha Fogo on their performances of the final solos, filled with stamina (After the performance I had to say that I felt like having lost three kilos just by watching it), power, a madness that is hard to describe. Ferocious would be a suitable word. They were not „imitating“ the roles. They were the roles. Their reading of the characters had the essential visceral quality that I had missed the first time I watched it. Wild lions. And roaring very loudly!
A most enjoyable and delightful evening which pleased the audience extremely – now I'll have to wait for the next revival of this programme in order to see Miss Papava in the final solo from „Sacre“.