Tuesday was a huge day. In the morning I took my class to the Musée du Quai Branly, “the museum where cultures dialogue.” It’s a large museum focused on non-European art and artifacts and some innovative temporary exhibitions. One of the current ones is on tattoos and tattoo artists and that was incredibly cool to see. I did not get to spend enough time at the Quai Branly and would like to go back if time permits. I think the students liked it as well–if nothing else it’s a nice break from marble statues and Impressionism. They came up with smart things to say about the stuff that they saw and the values that multiple cultures seem to have in common. It turns out that everybody is interested in birth, death, marriage, and social standing. Not a surprise but I’m glad they noticed!
In the evening I went with Dr. Kirk’s Music Appreciation class to see Roland Petit’s ballet Notre Dame de Paris at the Opéra Bastille. I hadn’t been to the Bastille before, only the Garnier. If the Garnier is the old world, the Bastille is the new. It reminded me of the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas. And then the dancing started and I could barely sit still, it was so good. Modern-ballet choreography performed with all the precision and technical expertise the Paris Opera Ballet has to offer. Amandine Albisson danced Esmerelda and of course she was wonderful, strong and light and beautiful (she looks a little like Eva Green to me). It seems like a difficult character to play as she is almost always reacting rather than acting, but her dancing was beautiful and so were her interactions with the other characters. There was a touching moment when Quasimodo (Karl Paquette) is holding her, asleep, across his arms and swings her like a pendulum–recalling the bells of Notre Dame, surely–ever so gently down to the floor. I actually had tears in my eyes! As a bonus, Yves St. Laurent, my current obsession, designed the costumes. I can’t say that this ballet entirely made up for missing Robbins/Ratmansky . . . but it came close.