French ballet and a modern opera arrive from Paris

Members of Paris Opera Ballet perform “Bolero.”

Paris Opera Ballet has defined the classical form for 350 years. The troupe last visited New York in 1996, but Frederick Wiseman’s long verite film turned a lot of heads here in 2009, poking cameras into every corner of the company’s headquarters and listening to Brigitte Lefevre, director of dance since 1995 and an alumna of POB and its school.

At this summer’s Lincoln Center Festival, POB offers three programs. Lefevre responded to questions via e-mail about bringing the ensemble to the U.S.

You are one of very few women in the world running a major ballet company. What did you face in transitioning from performer/choreographer to executive?    

The challenge was to evolve as an artist as my roles changed and to integrate the various points of view while having increasing administrative responsibilities. I learned to look in deeper ways at other dancers and choreographers, to explore new kinds of programming and to see with the audience’s eyes. 

Why have you programmed five narrative ballets?

Not all are narrative, and even the narrative ones are very different. “Giselle” is poetic and romantic — the epitome of romantic ballet. “The French Evening,” with three great choreographers of the 20th century and French music, shows a range of styles — narrative and pure dance — and moods: the neo-academicism of Serge Lifar, the theatricality of Roland Petit and the pulsing intensity and ritual of Maurice Bejart’s “Bolero.” “Orpheus and Eurydice,” by Pina Bausch, is quite special for us — a dance-opera, showcasing our marvelous dancers and the wonderful artistry of the vocalists and ensemble, all of it shaped by this great choreographer of modern dance. 

If you go
   
Paris Opera Ballet
Lincoln Center Festival
July 11-22
David H. Koch Theater
20 Lincoln Center Plaza
212-721-6500; $25-$150
www.lincolncenterfestival.org


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