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Ariane and I have been getting comments and notes that people are reading and enjoying our rather spontaneous blog and now we’re franchising!!  Olivia Aylmer, previously mentioned on this blog and a dear, bunhead friend at Barnard, has graciously agreed to write a note on our trip to see Paris Opera Ballet’s Giselle on Saturday.  As it was the company’s first trip to the States in 15 years, we couldn’t miss it.  You can see pictures from the performance here.

Without further ado, the talented writer, blogger and fashionista,  Olivia Aylmer:

“But Everything was beautiful at the ballet…” sing Sheila and Bebe in A Chorus Line. They could have been singing about Martha Scott and I’s Saturday afternoon, because—let me tell you—everything at the ballet was the sort of beautiful you dream about, but rarely see performed a mere few feet away from you by the crème de la crème of the Parisian dance world.

Almost two months ago, we heard that the Paris Opera Ballet would be spending a few days in the city in July, performing one of our favorites, Giselle, at Lincoln Center, in the theatre usually reserved for New York’s very own City Ballet. We hesitated for about thirty seconds before hopping online and reserving two seats in the Orchestra; chances like this don’t come around every old day.

Do we have any regrets for spending a pretty penny on those tickets at the start of summer? The answer, quite simply, is: not one. We sat enthralled for two hours as the troupe long-limbed, naturally expressive, utterly elegant French dancers leaped and pirouetted and danced their hearts out for us to Adolphe Adam’s hauntingly beautiful score, all the while telling a story of mad love (literally), redemption, and forgiveness. It’s hard to believe that this ballet first premiered on an evening in June over a century ago in (but of course) Paris, France.

As MSB and I discussed post-performance, once we had finally settled down from an eight-minute, wholly deserved applause and standing O (and the chills/hairs on end had subsided), Giselle ends on a note of hope. Unlike, say, Romeo & Juliet, in which the title characters tragic fates evoke less than uplifting emotions in the audience, this ballet closes with a scene so bittersweet and beautiful that it draws both a tear and a smile. In light of the aforementioned incredible ballet, I’m leaving detail of the plot itself out to encourage all of you lovely readers to find it being performed during an upcoming season near you, and to BUY TICKETS. Immediately!

Truly, these dancers could not have been more gracious, which made applauding for them after the curtain closed that much more of a pleasure. The principal dancers (or, étoiles as they’re known in Paris), Isabelle Ciaravola (Giselle), Karl Paquette (Albrecht) stepped aside fellow company members enjoy their New York moment on the white flower-strewn stage. MSB and I clutched each other’s arms multiple times over the course of the performance without saying a word as the subtle sublimity of the company’s spot-on rendition struck us. From their extensions that seemed to stretch on for just a moment longer than the music allowed, to their visible evocations of first love, lost love, and everything in between, they brought an essence of sincerity to every gesture they made, every step they took, and every breath they breathed before breaking into the next flawless movement phrase.

For me, a ballet becomes an entity all its own when its dancers are able to transcend their physical movements to bring a story to life——they’re no longer simply dancing, but living through dance. A grand-jeté becomes a cry for help, a port de bras a warm embrace, a pirouette a spin into madness. What the Paris Opera Ballet dancers did on Saturday only reaffirmed to me how possible and exciting it is to see a breath of fresh air breathed into a story of old. How very happy I am that MSB is one proactive gal when it comes to purchasing tickets, and inviting me to come along!

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