Tours en l'air organizes ballet-themed escorted holidays to see the best companies perform great ballets in beautiful places. You can join a trip from anywhere. A highly knowledgeable balletomane who has enjoyed 100s of performances in over 20 cities around the world,I speak English, French, and German, and am a Travel Industry Council of Ontario certified Travel Counsellor. I also teach ballet appreciation courses.
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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

3e etage at Saint-Sauveur

This is my first visit to the Festival des arts de Saint-Sauveur in Quebec's lovely Laurentians region, an area of pine-clad hills north of Montreal. This dance festival, directed by Anik Bissonnette, brings small but prestigious troupes from around the world here for two weeks in July and August every year, to perform in a large circus tent. The metal supports of the stage unfortunately rattle every time someone jumps, but it's a nice intimate venue where you feel a definite connection with the dancers.
If you like watching men leaping about in tights, as I do, you should try to catch a performance by 3e étage, a group of 9 Paris Opera Ballet dancers led by Samuel Murez, who bring a quirky sensibility to classical ballet. In a recent interview with Victor Svoboda of the Montreal Gazette, Murez explained his motivation: “You come out after dancing La Sylphide and hop on your motorbike – there’s kind of a disconnection. So members of the Paris Opera Ballet are trying to find a way of being a dancer who’s more connected to the world we live in.”
They perform works by Murez which are entertaining and contemporary but exploit the impeccable classical training of the Paris Opera Ballet School, especially in works by Murez's anagramatic alter ego, Raul Zeummes, like La Valse Infernale, a show-off piece for whiz-bang technique, and the hilarious Quatre, in which four male dancers try to out-pirouette and out-grand-allegro one another, and at one point one of the danseurs heads into the audience to chat up one of the audience members:

In the performance I saw on July 31, Quatre unfortunately became Trois, as one of the dancers had injured himself in the first half of the performance, but the remaining three managed very well to fill in the gaps.
Other works on the program were
Epiphénomènes, where a "Trickster" figure intervenes in the love life of a couple.

At the end of this piece, two ghoulish zombie-like "gravediggers", Ivan and Igor, slink on and remove the bodies from the stage (a neat way of dealing with the lack of a curtain), a device that recurs as a link throughout the program and can be seen at the beginning of

Works by other choreographers also appeared, including Forsythe's Limb's Theorem. This was classic Forsythe, and clearly the most accomplished choreography of the program, very well danced. Ben van Cauwenbergh's classic gala favourite Les Bourgeois to Jacques Brel was also part of the mix. I have never seen anyone dance this piece better than Eric Gauthier, whose company Gauthier Dance is up next at the FASS.
The audience leapt to their feet at the end of the show. Bravo to these young dancers for stretching the Paris Opera Ballet image. If you get a chance to see 3e etage, go! You will be sure to have an enjoyable evening.

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