Critiques / Reviews
Dans la même rubrique
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If it Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It
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More Power to Lopatkina !
Début of Emilie Cozette in Le Lac des Cygnes
Emmanuel Thibault - Gatecrashing the Cocktail Party ?
Myriam Ould-Braham & Emmanuel Thibault
La Belle au Bois Dormant
Rome, May 2005
Don Quichotte, Opéra Bastille, Sunday May 23rd 2004
I do not recall a more intoxicating matinee (….) The cause for my delight (and that of an ecstatic public) was the twin debuts (as Kitri and Basilio) of Dorothée Gilbert and Emmanuel Thibault (….) Over the past eight years I have reported on his astonishing technical purity, his vividly communicative delight in what he does - the dance shining. And yet, for reasons inexplicable, he is not promoted (in this hierarchic troupe) beyond sujet, when everything he does speaks of his being a premier danseur.
In this glorious matinee, Gilbert and Thibault shared a common delight in the drama as in the dance. Thibault polishes every step, every phrase with what seems angelic ease, and an extra joy was to see fifth positions that are tight, clean, teacher’s-pet-ish. Both made their roles and the ballet magically alert and alive, the most happy - the most happiest - thing.
Emmanuel Thibault was, at long last, given the opportunity to shew - and with what brio ! that he is well up to the major roles. He IS Basilio, charming, a shade on the naïve side, an accomplished partner, while his reserves of stamina let him to make light of the technical hurdles, and lend him a virtuosity worthy of dancers on the international circuit - watch his impeccable doubles assemblées, his sequence of tours en l’air in the variation.
Long admired for the remarkable quality of his dancing, but, for reasons that are very moot indeed, scarcely-acknowledged in the company, Emmanuel Thibault has proven that he richly deserves to be appointed premier danseur, although he has been refused that rank at every Internal Promotion Concours. From the technical and theatrical standpoint alike, his mastery of the role [as Basilio] was complete (…). Granted, he cannot play every role in the repertory, as he is of slight build, and no more than middling ability when it comes to lifting. That being said, there are a great many lead-roles that are tailor-made for him, and in which he should be regularly cast. It would be a good thing for the Opera to now come round and recognise the fact.
"That rare pearl of art" (interview)
"Why restate a manifest truth, one all balletomanes are aware of: whether it be technique, jump, petite batterie, ballon, impeccable cleanly finish - all that, and more, is Emmanuel Thibault (…). [He] need only go down onto the stage, and it is transfigured. The painted backdrop becomes a fair landscape, the ladies walk on air, and music becomes unthinkable without the dance.
"The Personification of What it means to be a French Dancer"
I wanted Emmanuel in my film (Serge Peretti, le Dernier des Italiens - editor’s note)because he is an outstanding dancer. He belongs to the old school, to the time of Vestris. His style is refined and elegant, the personification of what it means to be a French dancer. Moreover, he can jump! His elevation is remarkable, coupled with an extraordinary jeu de jambes. Neat, light and precise. He’s an amazing dancer who most certainly does not have the status he merits within the company.
Giselle, Opéra Garnier, February 11th 2004
"In Wednesday’s performance, Thibault electrified the peasant pas de deux (notwithstanding his effortful partner Dorothee Gilbert). It’s always an indication of unique talent when a dancer shows you something you’ve never seen before, even if, like me, you feel inadequate to describing it. I’ll try: In his landings, each individual element of his leg - feet, calf, thighs - articulated. What I mean is, his precision wasn’t limited to his feet but the expression of every fiber was given attention. And when I say electrified, I’m only being hyperbolic to the extent that we weren’t actually all illuminated, but Thibault’s animated eyes and face were."
Symphony in C, Georges Balanchine Opéra Garnier, October 15th 2003
"The surprise (not altogether surprising, might one say !) was left to another evening, with Fanny Fiat and Emmanuel Thibault dancing the same [Third] Movement
The two "sujets" quite literally burst out onto the stage in this piece so perfectly attuned to their own character : brio, speed and wild abandon. Danced and interpreted with maestria.
Energy and enthusiasm radiated from each step, and swept the public up along with them".
Q - In your book (Corps Glorieux, September 2003) you’ve singled out the issue of Emmanuel Thibault, sujet of the Paris Opera. Why ?
"I find it quite unfair that one seize upon his rather slight stature as a pretext, and that he be kept carefully away from the great roles. When one has got a dancer of that quality about, why fuss over his partners’ height ? We should be staging ballets specifically with him in mind. The man has fallen afoul of a fad, one that favours very tall dancers, under the impact, in particular, of Georges Balanchine."
"(....) Thibault in the taxing male role [Pas de trois - Paquita] which demands a perfection of technique beyond the reach of most, was simply stupendous. Nijinsky himself who danced the role in 1907 could have wished for no better substitute. Thibault, light, quick, neat, aerial, with giant leaps in immaculate style where he hung in the air, is now one of the finest dancers of his generation in the world. Buoyant and joyous, he revelled in every minute of it (...) Legend has it that the wonderful pas de trois, known as the "pas de trois in gold", brings luck to its interpreters. It’s certainly time that Emmanuel Thibault, repeatedly chosen by the classical choreographers, is brought more frequently to the forefront of the scene."
Critics’ choice for Best Dancer 2002/2003 "in virtually everything he dances - his promotion to premier danseur is long overdue"
Review of Symphony in C
"Emmanuel Thibault’s riveting entrances and daunting exits into the wings of the Third Movement of Symphony in C, thus, were the most exciting moments of the Paris Opera Ballet Balanchine Triple Bill on Wednesday the 15th. Simply because the man soars as if suspended by an invisible string or lifted by silent gusts of a benevolent wind, and because he carries himself beautifully up there. Back on the ground he knows how to modulate accents without making them look strained, he gives full shape to his pirouettes, while his port de bras draw wonderfully clean arcs and lines around his centre.
"In a company of outstanding artists, Thibault is one of a handful of Princes of Dance - Manuel Legris, Laurent Hilaire, José Martinez and Jean-Guillaume Bart being the others - and the only one with such a superlative gift and outstanding facility for classical ballet dancing. He is also the only one who is not an étoile and, sadly and unfairly, never will be. (Thibault must be close to 30 and is still a Coryphée). Worse still, he only gets cast in soloist roles very infrequently and was given just this one performance of Symphony in C."
"It is difficult for a consensus of opinion to exist about anything in ballet as dance fans tend to have extremely subjective views, but a consensus certainly seems to exist where Thibault is concerned, not just amongst the French fans but also among the UK contingent of POB supporters.
"Emmanuel Thibault’s standard of excellence is such that the first sight of him hits you like an express train - he is that good! Being London based I have to rely on others to assure me that he always dances outstandingly and I can confirm that there is absolute fury in Paris that he is treated so shabbily by the powers that be.
"I too have heard that he is a poor partner, well, Nureyev himself sometimes disappointed in the lifting department and in my thirty odd years of watching the POB I’ve seen lesser talents with the title of étoile. Certainly some sort of explanation as to his continuing exclusion from that rank needs to be made."
On the POB Concours held on December 30th 2002
"(...) Emmanuel Thibault, as astonishing in the set variation from the Mazurka (Etudes) as in the marvellous solo "Autumn" from Jérome Robbins’ Four Seasons. How could one possibly dance better, more fluently, or with keener intellectual focus ? Notoriously, however, Emmanuel Thibault, greatly loved by the public, is not a popular fellow within the inner cogs and wheels of the Opera, which, for several years now, has refused outright to promote him to the rank of Premier Danseur, no matter how extraordinary his work. One fails to see how anyone might argue that he be a mere "Gold-Medal Collector", after the masterful lessons in style he has just given in Pierre Lacotte’s "Paquita ", not to speak of his willingness, whenever called upon, to stand in for someone taken ill !"
Review of Paquita chor. Pierre Lacotte, January 2001
"The Act One Pas de Trois led to a resounding triumph for the sujet Emmanuel Thibault, on account of his fluency, elevation, and ideal style. It was Nijinsky who held the role in 1907 (...) and he could have done no better."
On the POB Concours 2001
"The Concours results were announced shortly afterwards (...) Leaving press and public dumbfounded, there was one name lacking - that of the Sujet Emmanuel Thibault, who had quite outshone his peers (...). At last year’s Concours, the Jury and Management had simply decided to promote no-one at all, rather than appoint Emmanuel Thibault, who had, again, prevailed. Could there be a clearer way to get across to an artist that he is unwanted, and that there is little point in turning up for the Concours, at the very moment that he ruled the stage in Pierre Lacotte’s version of "Paquita ", giving a sovereign demonstration of the French School’s accomplished style ? Alas ! This Concours, that should have been an explosion of happiness at the appointment of Eleonora Abbagnato, a day for rejoicing and celebration, has been utterly wrecked by the injustice deliberately perpetrated upon Emmanuel Thibault."
[Jury : Hugues Gall, Chairman, Brigitte Lefèvre, directrice de la Danse, Patrice Bart, maître de Ballet, Elisabetta Terrabust, Raymond Franchetti, Clotilde Vayer, deputy, Nicolas Le Riche, José Martinez, Quernet, Yann Bridard, Lionel Delanoë, Jean-Guillaume Bart, deputy]
Title: "SCANDAL AT THE CONCOURS DE L’OPERA"
"The case of Emmanuel Thibault (...) who, for the past three years, has found his path to the position of premier danseur blocked off. Each and every year, he has been the best of the Concours, and each and every year, he has not been promoted. Yet again, this past Wednesday (...) he shewed himself to be extraordinary. Light years above everyone else. Virtuoso, light, musical, catlike, frolicking through the most devilish technical problems. Such ease astounded even the professionals. And this time, one hoped against hope that he would at last be promoted. There were two premier danseur positions available (...)° Tears were shed, of rage and injustice. Two other people were promoted (...) good dancers, of course, but the performance they put in at the Concours was well below that of Thibault...."
On the POB Concours 2001
"Two posts of Premier Danseur were available this time round, and the performance [at the 2001 Concours] in February, sublime, of Emmanuel Thibault left no doubts at all that one of them was his. In the imposed variation, surprisingly again from La Bayadère, he soared through the air in a superb demonstration of what dance is all about (...) This time, he had nothing to lose, for rumours had gone out months ago that even should he dance like Nureyev, Vasiliev and Baryshnikov rolled into one, he was not to be promoted. And so he was not.
"(....) What is happening at the Paris Opera ballet where dance alone should be king ? There was a time when this competition gave every dancer their chance. Is it now being turned into a beauty competition where only those resembling a stereotyped story-book image of a prince can pass ? Or must dancers grovel at the feet of a bunch of civil servants and beg ? This wilful and systematic blockage of such a unique artist as Thibault puts not only the whole concept of a "competition" into question, but strikes a blow at the very foundations of the company.
"After this frankly shocking result, I asked jury member Nicolas Le Riche to explain what had happened (...) [he said] "All I can tell you is that it is very hard to be on the jury (...) It’s as if you had to vote for the best composer between Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Brahms and Mozart, and Emmanuel Thibault was Mozart".
"It would have been more correct to have commented that what we saw then, was Mozart in a sea of Salieris."
"M. Emmanuel Thibault, that extraordinarily brilliant soloist (whose partnering has, by the bye, markedly improved), has still not been promoted premier danseur. Yet again, he is paying a high price for his particular physical constitution, one better suited to the very rigorous demands that classical academic dance calls for, than to fashion shows (Oh, and while we’re at it, here’s news: in April there will be a fashion show by Yoshiki Hishinuma at the Opera), fashion shows where Karl Paquette and Jérémie Belingard, the two youths who were promoted, would most certainly not look out of place."
"As for Emmanuel Thibault, who sailed far above his peers in the sujet category, yet again, he was cheated, robbed of a first place which, to the mind of most observers, was as of right, his own (...) Whenever the Thibault issue is raised, we are told that his partnering is not the most secure. Well, if the Paris Opera Management purports to advance that argument, may it assume responsibility for so doing ! but the feeling that injustice has been perpetrated remains nevertheless. What prospects might there now be for this young and talented man ? Will he not be compelled to seek his fortune elsewhere ?"
Review of Le Spectre de la Rose
"The Spectre de la Rose was danced - magnificently - by Elisabeth Maurin and Emmanuel Thibault. The spectre - a true enchantment. Elisabeth Maurin, her eyes half-closed, a delicate, touching sleepwalker, was poetry itself. Each of her gestures, without a hint of preciosity, is true, telling, and withal, veiled in grace. In the presence of Emmanuel Thibault, one forgets that this is a human being of flesh and blood. Supple, riding the airs, he carries off with subtlety and without (apparent) effort, the role’s technical feats. Nary a sound as he alights from a jump or a perilously off-balance double tour en l’air. With light arms and an intriguing smile, silence rhymes with seduction as he suavely traces the Labyrinth of Love, an ideal echo of Gautier’s poem. Beautifully restaged [by Pierre Lacotte], this short ballet has taken on afresh, the aura of a masterpiece."
In his film on Maître Serge Peretti (The Last of the Italians), Dominique Delouche has cast M. Thibault in the opening scene (The Tambourine Player). In the about-to-be-released Paris Opera DVD of Pierre Lacotte’s Paquita, the gentleman dances the role taken by Nijinskii, in the Act I Pas de Trois.
Cf. also John Percival in The Independent, February 9th 2001 (Paquita)
Clement Crisp, in the Financial Times, January 31st 2001 (Paquita)
Clement Crisp, in the Financial Times, December 2001, Review of the year 2001 (currently available on Internet, only to subscribers of the above newspapers).