Ballet Theater's New 'Gaite Parisienne' Is Kaleidoscopic
Apr. 21, 1988
NEW YORK (AP) _ American Ballet Theater's new production of ''Gaite Parisienne'' is more extravagantly colorful than a kaleidoscope.
The dancing and ebullient Offenbach music hold their own so it's really a spirit-lifting ballet and not just a theatrical fashion show.
Still, on first viewing Wednesday, one was primarily dazzled by the costumes of the cancan girls - black hose and shoes with white polka dots, bright skirts with fuzzy pastel linings, blouses with huge polka dots and full sleeves gathered at the elbows above black gloves.
Hilary Ryan as La Lionne, the celebrity of the hour, appeared in a lavish red headdress and gown - the train had a train sewn on piggyback.
Paris couturier Christian Lacroix was the designer and in the spirit of the occasion some women in the benefit audience wore Lacroix gowns. It was said that the ballet's lavish costumes cost more than $500,000, paid for by a private donor. Zack Brown's scenery, with a pink polka-dotted bow holding up the chandelier, was the perfect setting.
The Leonide Massine ballet premiered in April 1938 in Monaco. It was staged for American Ballet Theater by Massine's son Lorca and premiered in January in Tampa.
Lorca Massine has gone for character more than plot in staging this ballet set in a late 1880s French cabaret. And there is much going on in this production; there are no quiet moments. Somebody - waiters, maids, ladies of the evening, billiard players, soldiers and dandies or just the busboy - is always dancing. It's as fizzy as French champagne.
Susan Jaffe danced the glove seller on Wednesday, Amy Rose the flower girl, Johan Renvall the Peruvian and Victor Barbee the Baron.
Eugenia Delarova Doll and Frederic Franklin, who danced the flower girl and Baron at the 1938 premiere, and Alexandra Danilov, who danced the glove seller at the American premiere at the Metropolitan Opera later that year, watched the ballet from a center box after being introduced from the stage.
The evening began with George Balanchine's ''Stravinsky Violin Concerto,'' led by Leslie Browne, Susan Jaffe, Ricardo Bustamante and Robert Hill. The stark music and movements and black leotards with white T-shirts provided a perfect prelude to a joyful burst of Parisian light, color and gaity.