Wheeldon/ McGregor/ Bausch review – a happy birthday bash for Boulez

Palais Garnier, Paris
The Paris Opera Ballet celebrates Pierre Boulez’s 90th birthday with a strong triple bill that features two British choreographers

Last week, the Paris Opera Ballet presented a triple bill of works in honour of Pierre Boulez, the composer and conductor who celebrated his 90th birthday earlier this year. Opening the programme on Thursday’s first night was Christopher Wheeldon’s Polyphonia. Created for New York City Ballet in 2001, the ballet is set to 10 short piano compositions by György Ligeti. Musically and choreographically, it’s an appropriate choice. Boulez knew Ligeti, who died in 2006, and although they were for many years in bitter disagreement about issues of musical theory, Boulez recorded many of the Hungarian-born composer’s most important works.

Ligeti developed a style involving dissonant and subtly shifting chords. In Désordre, he fires these at us with bewildering velocity. Wheeldon responds with a rigorous imposition of choreographic order, which the four couples achieve with cool elan. There are moments when lines blur, but overall the dancers have internalised Wheeldon’s precision shaping and crystalline phrasing. In her duet with Stéphane Bullion, Amandine Albisson shows a beautiful, watery softness, swimming through the choreography with articulate shoulders and wrists and yielding back. The metaphor here is sexual, but not insistently so, and Bullion and Albisson capture the oblique tone.

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Source: Guardian Dance News

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