‘La Source’ premieres to applause at Cranford’s Digiplex movie theater

By Bea Smith,  Staff Writer

It is absolutely amazing — and rare — when exciting and competent male dancers in a ballet production compete with the lovely and graceful ballerinas. Apparently, that is what was happening Sunday afternoon when the film of a live ballet, “La Source,” at the Paris Opera Theater unfolded at theCranfordmovie theater.

In fact, there was nearly an equal number of men and women up on that enormous screen giving their all to entertain an avid audience. And among the many highlights in this Parisian ballet production were, in addition to the Corps de Ballet dancing in perfect harmony, a vigorous Russian folk dance was performed by numerous strong men.

From its very beginning, when “La Source” first opened inParisin 1866, it had several revivals with additional dances, one in 1972 and again in the early 20th century. It’s most recent adaptation, as presented to aNew Jerseyaudience on precious film by Emerging Cinema and Digiplex Cranford Theater, very little improvement is necessary for this inspiring, poetic piece of work.

Just before “La Source” makes its presence known, the astounded viewers were given a filmed tour of the Paris Opera Theater as its audience filed in to their seats. The enormity of the theater, with its four huge balconies that surround the house, has one actually gasping with admiration. Every seat was taken. It certainly proves that Parisians love their ballet.

And the New Jerseyans who attended this exceptional presentation of “La Source” appeared to appreciate every magical moment of it.

The backdrop is a legendaryPersia, and the story of the love of a hunter, Djemil, a lovely Nouredda and the spirit of the spring, Naila. And the score, with its enlightened beauty, was originally devised by Ludwig Minkus and Leo Delibes, their first ballet composition with soothing music by Marc-Olivier Dupin. The libretto, soft and compelling, is by Arthur Saint-Leon and Charles Nuitter, and provides the real world with the presence of elves, nymphs and ethereal objects. Choreographer Jean-Guillaume Bart has helped to provide the restoration of the original ballet, enhanced by Christian Lacroix’s colorful costumes and Eric Ruf’s use of the marvelous sets.

The story, which can be somewhat confusing, concerns the bride-to-be of the Khan of Ghendjib, Nouredda, who, while on her way to the Khan, meets a young hunter, Djemil, who picks a flower for her. However, she manages to abandon him to his fate, when the water nymph Naila, who is in love with Djemil, saves him and offers to help him to conquer Nouredda. If one is somewhat confused by the story line, one is compensated by the musical background and the extraordinary talent of every one of the ballet dancers — male and female.

The very talented principal players in “La Source,” are truly marvelous. Not only do they dance to perfection, but their wonderful faces display the drama of the moment. Ludmilla Pagliero, whose dancing is absolutely magnificent, portrays the role of Naila. She has been seen before in a Parisian ballet at theCranford, and she seems to improve with each performance. Brava, Ludmilla.

Karl Paquette, as Djemil, is an exceptional dancer. The round of applause at the conclusion was deafening. Isabelle Ciaravola, who played Nouredda, was elegant; a fine dancer. The Khan, as portrayed by Christophe Duquenne, was brilliant. The others, Mathias Heymann, as Zael, an elf, Nolwenn Daniel as Dadje, and Vincent Chaillet, as  Mazdock, Nouredda’s brother, appeared to be made for their roles.

There is no question about the appeal of a live ballet here inNew Jersey. More and more people are providing the Emerging Cinema and Cranford Digiplex Theater with a devout audience. It is truly a thrill to feel that one is sitting in the front row of a real ballet performance and to be able to look forward to the next one in the very near future.