Paris - On Monday - Francis Bacon and a Ballet at Opéra Bastille

I love ballet. I always have.

Popeye kind of hates ballet which means that I always have to go to ballet performances on my own.

I usually end up very frustrated because (almost) every time I come back from the Opera (usually Garnier) very excited and bubbly, I meet my dear husband’s eyes totally filled with incomprehension even though I’m trying to share my passion with him!

I love ballet. He does not like it at all.

But in the end, it doesn’t matter very much because life would be boring if we liked exactly the same things.

On Monday morning, a friend called me to let me know that she had one extra ticket for a very contemporary ballet about Francis Bacon’s work at Bastille Opera, that very night.

“How about coming along?” she said.

I went berserk because I wanted so much to go to this ballet... and I would not be alone!

I knew it would be very modern. No ballet skirts. No fancy costumes. No extraordinary stage setting.

The choreography and the music itself were totally inspired by Bacon’s work... so filled with violence and where the human body ends up distorted to no limits.

(I love Bacon’s paintings but I know I could never, ever live with one of them in my home...)

So I was very, very eager to see how Wayne McGregor, a renowned British choreographer, had translated Bacon’s work into a ballet.

And I loved it from the beginning to the end (almost).

I did have a hard time loving as much the last part called “Dispelling the Fears” mainly because the very discordant music (to my ears) put me under a lot of stress... which is how I more or less end up feeling whenever I go see paintings by Bacon. So, yes, well done, Mr. McGregor!

When you watch a very classical ballet, there are many things that prevent you to fully comprehend the fantastic work of the dancers behind the entrechats or the pas de deux. The music, the corps de ballet, the costumes, the stage setting.

Of course, you end up enthralled because a ballet can be so magical and dazzling. I remember being dumbfounded while watching Rudolf Nureyev’s absolutely incredible entrechats (leaps even). (Live on stage, of course! Lucky me.)

I know that ballet is one of the hardest artistic disciplines ever. It takes a lot of work from a very early age.

A dancer has to sacrifice almost everything to reach up to the top of his/her art while experiencing a lot of physical pain. And then he/she offers you moments of pure beauty and joy as if dancing was so easy and natural.

The ballet called “L’anatomie de la sensation” (“The Anatomy of Sensation”) was ballet dancing to its ultimate perfection.

The dancers were the dancing stars of the Opéra de Paris. Beautiful and extremely talented young people. Wayne McGregor made them perform to the limits of their virtuosity.

Every part of "L'anatomie de la sensation" (all nine of them) became total physical and emotional gifts to us.

Physical gifts because the dancers’ performance was totally brilliant. They all accomplished what had been asked of them - they did go to the limits of their skills and sometimes even beyond (unbelievable).

Since there were almost no costumes, the muscular strength was there to be seen, so amazing. And from time to time, some very unusual moves helped us understand better what an excellent dancer is all about.

Emotional gifts because every step, every move, every interaction between the dancers awakened emotions in our hearts, passions even... without a story to back up the ballet. Feelings, fleeting memories of Bacon’s paintings...

That night, we all left the Opéra with sparkling eyes and very wonderful and unforgettable memories.

Do I need to tell you that there was a standing ovation?

*Good Luck, and Good Night*

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