Mélanie Hurel as Florine
With a large and very rambunctious group of friends, we attended the Sleeping Beauty matinée at the Opera Bastille December 26th, where Mlle. Hurel danced Florine to a not-unknown Blue Bird - Emmanuel Thibault, stepped from the walls of the Palace at Knossos.
Florine, danced in the past by the very greatest ballerinas, is yet thought of as an ungrateful role, since, as in many aspects of this earthly life of ours, the male of the species has rather more heroic things to do, things that verge on the impossible.
As Mlle. Hurel's Florine is a fine example of the intelligence she brings to all her work, might one take a close-up view of one or two aspects ?
The emboîtés en attitude devant.
There are a lot of them, and it is a very, very noisy step, rather typical of Petipa's odd way of giving the ladies loud steps in silent places.
As she is a small strong woman, with firm ligaments, she has quite a jump, and could have taken the emboîtés large, as a statement of exuberance and also, how well she jumps ! But no ! She scales them down to a size at which the step becomes almost silent, and disappears into the wings with a little laugh of delight. That soundless laughter, is the only thing that one "hears".
Again, in the diagonal of soutenus en temps levé (with which Mlle. Abbagnato had some difficulty, by the bye).
The point is not to do the soutenus as though it were déboulé. The point is the transition between the soutenu aspect and the temps levé aspect, how one uses the foot, sensitively, so that the landing be absolutely silent, and the space between the ground and the air, become a trail of gentle light as it descends the diagonal.
Here is one possible interpretation of the ideas she thereby brings to mind. Florine is a woman, and her lover, at times a bird, at times in his true shape as a man. To please him, she may wish to appear somehow as a bird, though unlike him, she cannot fly. Between flight, birds set down upon the ground, but most cannot really walk. They skip, or hop !
Both Florine and the Blue Bird, are prisoners of the tower, the former unwilling, the latter willing, and both are prisoners of their shape. Could the one fly, she would be free, and could the other not fly, he would be free. This does not deny them humour, but it is humour shadowed by a longing to break one's bonds.
One should add that Mlle. Hurel has an uncanny empathy with her partners. When not in eye-contact with the partner, she senses, rather than sees him, and adjusts not only the amplitude of movement, but even the actual quality and "grain" of movement, to their artistic wavelength.
Mlles. Wiart, Muret and Hurel have all been very different, and interesting in this role, but it is perhaps Mlle. Hurel who has given it the most meaning.