1 December 2023

From left to right (in the foreground): Alexandre Gasse, Laurène Levy and Axel Ibot in

A detail, a costume, a world. The long-haired white fur worn high on the thighs signs the fashion and chic aesthetic of the show Pitch (“pit”, in English), choreographed by Bobbi Jene Smith and Or Schraiber. It sets the tone for a social gathering where couples talk, hug as one would with a lifeline or rush at each other, sometimes screaming. Except that life in evening dress knew such peaks of wild splendor with Pina Bausch (1940-2009) that it is difficult today to play with the same wardrobe without risking getting your stilettos caught in the hem. .

For their first time at the Palais Garnier, in Paris, Bobbi Jene Smith and Or Schraiber, who worked for the Israeli Batsheva company but are unknown in France except for an appearance at the Théâtre du Châtelet in October 2022, are taking advantage of a shock display. Well dressed by Alaïa, superbly danced by 19 performers from the Opéra national de Paris, Pitch was a public success when it premiered on Friday March 17 at the Palais Garnier. The Heartbreaking Violin Concertoby Jean Sibelius, enveloped in the sound mists of Celeste Oram, is for many in the attraction of this darkly seductive piece but lacking from the point of view of singularity and audacity.

Unfinished overall statement

Quickly, the device reaches its limits. The huge raised concrete slab seems only to be used for climbing and descending as if to change levels. Just as quickly, the string of solos, duets and ensembles above the “pit” flirts with a remix of situations that have been fairly rehashed for ages on contemporary sets. Wandering on all fours and other frantic races, the disarray of the period offers itself a nice trap for the larks without restarting the deal. And it’s not the falsely provocative pellets buttocks and bare breasts that catch up with the case. Even less the nervousness in the execution of the movements which certainly halos the emergency paintings without giving meaning to an unfinished overall purpose. Exemplary of this uprooting, the relationship between the violinist Petteri Iivonen, present on stage, and one of the interpreters, remains in a dotted state.

The writing of Bobbi Jene Smith and Or Schraiber also struggles to impose a personal flavor. Bewitching as the dancers give their all, it recycles a lot of the experiences of each other. Classical and contemporary steps intertwine with twists à la Pina Bausch and gestures in extension typical of Gaga, the famous technique of Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin which is becoming commonplace in companies. As for the male unisons, they recall the traditional three-way style of the Israeli Hofesh Shechter who also collaborated with the Parisian institution. Did Bobbi Jene Smith and Or Schraiber leave the performers a little too free, as suggested by one of the films on this creation, directed by Tommy Pascal, visible on the Paris Opera website? No style imposes itself in this anthology that the music of Sibelius happily dramatizes to perfection.

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