Orphee and Eurydice
The Lincoln Center Festival performances of Orphee and Eurydice ended the Paris Opera Ballet’s US tour. New Yorkers got to see three phases of POB history, with the romantic Giselle, a modern program, and this dance-opera finale to bring us up to date.
After the Parisians saw Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal company in 1991, they aquired three of her works, including Orphee. The 1975 masterwork refers to the classical tragedy rather than to the Gluck composition with the happy ending.
Stéphane Buillon’s Orpheus takes small, trepidatious steps. Bausch respected the ballet dancers’ verticality. He looks like he is walking solo in a Greek frieze procession. It emphasizes his aloneness, a feeling that transfers chillily to us. Then, Marie-Agnès Gillot shaking and shivering in her red dress leaves no doubt. It is the heat of hell and the chill of going solo. The telling is not strictly narrative. For example, Gillot sits in a corner chair on stilts. No matter how many others have used this motif since, Orphee will probably always look innovative, signature, and significant.
The theme of loss and love, danced with visceral emotion by Gillot, Buillon, and Muriel Zusperreguy as Love, couldn’t be more relevant while mourning the victims of the Dark Knight tragedy. Orphee shows POB’s musicality, emotion and humanity in modern, contemporary dance. Including this sad story-ballet in their US tour is yet another French gift, its cool - hot touch is enlivening. Merci!