Jerome Robbins En Sol

June 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

Jerome Robbins choreography “En Sol” (“In the sun”) suits the music (Ravel’s G-Minor concerto, in French: “en sol majeur”) so well, one might swear the music was a ballet commission.  The choreography takes as its theme the beach and the sea — an idea very well suited to the jumpy outer movements (all that frolicking on the beach) and the gently swaying middle movement (floating on the swaying sea).  It is brilliantly conceived on the ensemble level, with all parts — individuals, small groups — moving in harmony as if they were parts of one body.  Agnes Gillot’s rendition of swaying waves is so convincing as to be mesmerizing – just like the sea.

Unfortunately, the male lead is stiff and wooden — with an occasional technical blip — and utterly lacking in the gift of grace.  It is possible to ignore him for the most part, but not when he is dead center (the “swimming figure” in 1st movement makes me want to cry:  it could be so beautiful and he ruins it); nor in those instances in which he trips up the female lead.  Rather funnily, during the final bows he seems quite satisfied with his performance, rather like that certain Japanese prince Sei Shonagon mentions in the Pillow Book — subject to mean snickerings behind his back, who thought composing poetry was easy and frequently dashed out fast and furious — drivel.

But Gillot is divinely graceful and otherworldlily beautiful (all impossibly long arms and legs, a beauty so unusual, so striking as to be un-sexual, positively… seraphinic, powers and thrones, powers and thrones, I kept thinking 1), head-taller than the rest, she both dominates and saves the show.  One can’t help reflecting, when watching her in the pas-de-deux on the fate of extraordinarily gifted women reduced to coupling with mediocre men or — not coupling at all.

What is it like, I once asked one, to date men less intelligent than you?   What to do?  She said, and asked:  What is it like to date women less intelligent than you?

Oh, I said, I no longer do.


1 See Ophanim.


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