Paris Opera Ballet

A Freudian take on Swan Lake

Nureyev’s take on “Swan Lake” (1984) is often said to be tricky, narcissist, untidy. It is all that, to some extent, but it’s also one of the most mature, intense versions of the crowd-pleaser that has gone devoid of emotional stirring around the world. In Nureyev’s version, the psychological depth, ingrained in the Prince’s psyche, is reminiscent of the choreographer’s dark side. And when you watch men waltzing holding hands like women traditionally do in Romantic ballets, it feels close to what could have been in Tchaikovsky’s imagination.

A Tribute to Violette Verdy

Set to Ravel’s aquatic music, “Sonatine” is musically radiant, physically airy. Tailor-made for French dancers, including Violette Verdy, the piece is reminiscent of Robbins’ humanist pure-dance works (“Dances at a Gathering,” to name one). At first sight, it’s a flirtatious promenade. But it’s meant to be a multilayered piece with plenty of nuances.

Crystal Pite’s Enigmatic Ode to Nature

The premiere of the new ballet season celebrated the Paris corps de ballet with a triple bill dedicated to its century-long grandeur. Yet the traditional défilé—a grandiose opening—looked at odds with the following minimalist pieces. Versatility or schizophrenia? The 300-year-old company still suffers from identity disorders. Tino Seghal's “Sans Titre” (untitled piece) was the most obvious warning sign of such disarray. One can only hope that erratic mixed bills will soon be gone with the wind.

American Style & Crepuscular Ambivalences

A very american Paris Opera season—the first programmed by the now-former director Benjamin Millepied—ended at Bastille the way it had started, i.e. with yet another american double bill, reuniting an eagerly-awaited creation by the so-called NYCB enfant prodige Justin Peck with a great classic by his major source of inspiration: George Balanchine.