Bordeaux “Cité des vins” embraces the whole wine world. How very civilized!

Architects Anouk Legendre and Nicolas Desmazières designed “an evocation of the soul of wine”

Bordeaux – “exclusive “? If the city ever was snooty, all those expat Brit wine buffs must have imparted that rep. In any case, wine lovers of the world, bar none, unite in the munificent first city of wine. The magnet now well established — La Cité des civilisations du vin — opened its architecturally sophisticated space in summer 2016..

Early view of the Cité from the Bassins à flot — the heart of Bordeaux:

Elsewhere in these “pages,” I’ve described my enthusiasm for Bordeaux, the city. From my first visit in 2009, when I was welcomed to, among other Bordelais venues, the state-of-the-art Bordeaux Police Nationale headquarters, I was dazzled by the urban renewal phenomenon masterminded by Mayor Alain Juppé — in photo below, wearing hard hat. (Obviously, I don’t qualify to vote for Juppé — but if he can do for France what he did for his city, if and when he runs, I’d be the first to campaign for him. (I’ll confer first for campaign tips with my personal Paris political journo, Thibault Leroux.)

Bordeaux Mayor Alain Juppé masterminded his city’s urbane renaissance

Anyway, I travel to Bordeaux every chance I get. Plans call for a 2018 visit — and I look forward love to getting up close and personal with the Cité. When a press preview of this ambitious wine adventure took place back in 2015 at the French Cheese Board in Manhattan, we hobnobbed with NYC’s French cultural genie, Elaine Leary (below, right, with George Sape).

Join George Sape, President of American Friends of the Cité and Elaine Leary, NYC’s French cultural genie, in a toast to wine civilization on 30 April

Over glasses of excellent Bordeaux and well-selected compatible fromages, we were briefed that evening by former Maître of the Commanderie de Bordeaux in New York, George Sape. Not coincidentally, Mr. Sape, president of the American friends of the Cité (AFCCV), was busy raising a million dollars to fund the naming of The Thomas Jefferson Auditorium in the Cité — “symbolic,” he explained, of the unique history of close relations between France and the U.S.

Indeed, none other than T. Jefferson was responsible for introducing Bordeaux wines to his countrymen. Putting his vines where his mouth was, he planted same at his Virginia estate, and produced his own cuvée de Monticello. Safe to assume Virginia is represented at the Cité? Betting is not my forte, but even I am willing to bet on a sure thing — locating a Virginia vintage or two at this top venue . . . . Santé, Cité des civilisations du vin !

A bientôt, Bordeaux !

 

 

Le Roy “Retrospective” at MoMA PS 1 – Q&A with a dancer

Greg Grube, Guest Contributor

Dancer Greg Grube, Guest Contributor

Xavier Le Roy’s work gained recognition in contemporary, international dance circles after he finished a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology — which may explain the rigor and experimental focus of the work. His Retrospective, a three-month installation at MoMA PS1 in Long Island City (2014), emerged as a loop of discrete personal narratives textured by traces of his and each individual dancer’s past endeavors.  – G.G.

La Francofolle: You said about Retrospective that Le Roy “…pulled it off.” How do you mean? One dancer, in fact, pulled off a sweatshirt during his dance-talk, then wriggled back into it. Could that be a reference to ambivalence about his revelations?

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Using narration and movement, Sherwood Chen relates a dancer’s past.

Gregory Grube: Le Roy turned on its head the notion of a culminating look at an oeuvre, he turned it — upside down and inside out — as one of the performers sang to us. This allusion to Diana Ross demonstrates how many plot twists the provocative Retrospective can produce. Sherwood Chen, the dancer who sang a snippet of the disco hit, also spoke eloquently about his own work on Min Tanaka’s farm, studying with Anna Halprin on September 11, 2001, and about the breakup that caused his departure from the U.S. to study court dance in Java.

‪Chen also showed us contemporary Senegalese choreographers’ work, and the piece by Le Roy with the sweatshirt, Self-Unfinished, where the dancer’s body is transformed into something animal or alien by simply taking a garment and using it strangely. Through this interplay, form becomes about otherness, unfixing the sign to catalytically release some locked up energy. In the end, Chen’s monologue risks hardly being a retrospective at all, but a global performance collage that each viewer is invited to frame on their own.

Ff: In France, “le rétro” is in. But what’s French about this Le Roy dance direction?

Gregory Grube: In the US, the ballet tradition and modern dance traditions were the dominant poles that provided ground for a revolt in the post-modern era. In France, propensities for philosophical debate and political insurrection, combined with knowledge of our artistic coups in the 1960s, perhaps opened an avenue for making performances that manage to be both idiosyncratic and poignant conceptually, deconstructing how dance can Continue reading

Your musical invitation to travel in France

 

Please listen to my Masters Recital performance of “L’invitation au voyage” (2013) with Lucy Arner at the piano. 

Lydia Dahling, Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor Lydia Dahling, soprano

Là, tout n’est qu’ordre et beauté, /Luxe, calme et volupté. There all is order and beauty,/ Luxury, peace, and pleasure. These words are a recurring theme in Charles Baudelaire’s “L’invitation au voyage,” set to music by Henri Duparc.  In the poem, Baudelaire describes  Amsterdam, but his description could apply to any place the reader wishes.

I was born a francophile, the kid who read an adaptation of Les Misérables at the age of seven (granted, this version omitted topics such as prostitution, political unrest, disease, extreme poverty, suicide, and child abuse), who’s always loved cheese and good bread, always has had a voracious appetite for French art and history, and maybe still wants to just pack it up, move to France and buy a lavender farm. I could make soaps and teach music.

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Our own corner of the Périgord region

I studied Duparc’s  “L’invitation au voyage” during my participation in “L’art du chant Français” — a music and language program situated in the Périgord (aka truffles) region of France. Glenn Morton, one of my vocal coaches at Mannes College,  runs the three-week programHoused in a Périgord gite, eight of us singers studied French musical style and poetry with tenor Michel Sénéchal, a friend and colleague of musicians such as Francis Poulenc Régine CrespinNadia Boulanger. During his more than 60 years’ singing and teaching career, Michel also has directed the young artist studio of the Paris National Opera.

Le Château de Lanquais, where we performed our final concert, and I sang "L'invitation au voyage"

Le Château de Lanquais, where we performed our final concert, and I sang “L’invitation au voyage”

Professional accomplishments aside,  Michel Sénéchal is one of the kindest, most generous and funniest people I’ve ever met. One evening at dinner, as I got up to get a piece of cake, (we always enjoyed dessert), Michel, also visiting the dessert table, pointed to one of the cakes, and whispered a tip, “C’est le meilleur.Continue reading

Soirée art-and-commerce — Vincent Darré / Poltrona Frau / Le Bon Marché

Was Lascaux actually an art gallery where a prehistoric wealthy collector could, let’s say, order an original print of a cave painting to grace the wall of her own condo cavern? No? Well, that was definitely the last time we know of when art and commerce had no interest in common.

So, Art(s) and Commerce cohabit comfortably on GallicFever, and, in this case the collaboration between prolific French artist Vincent Darré, and the venerable (founded 1912) Italian furniture maker, Poltrona Frau, that now has in their sensuous and luxe materials, Darré’s sometimes mordant, invariably witty designs. 

Paris creatives celebrate with (far left) Vincent Darré. Arielle Dombasle, Francis D'Orleans, Marie Beltrami, Catherine Baba, Elie Top

Designer Vincent Darré (far left) celebrates with fellow Paris creatives Arielle Dombasle, Francis D’Orleans, Marie Beltrami, Catherine Baba, Elie Top

Poltrona is far from the first heavyweight firm to hook up to Darré’s talent in the interests of prestige and profit for both, and naturally there’s a luxury retail lynchpin, too — the Left Bank capital of chic, Le Bon Marché. (Five years after the store became part of the LVMH brand, in 1989, Au Bon Marché was rechristened Le Bon Marché and any relation whatsoever to the dictionary meaning of bon marché [er, cheap] ceased to apply.) The LBM windows on rue de Sèvres and much of the 2e étage, the Interiors floor, were devoted at this writing to displays of Darré furniture design and décor inspiration. Unapologetically priced in the thousands of euros per item.

Vincent Darré, educated in an Influential Paris fashion school, as well as in the eighties trend crucible that was the famed disco, Le Palace (think Studio 54 in New York), made the most not only of his considerable design ability but also of a talent for timing. His bio illustrates how he always could be found at the fashion focal point, at the peak fashionable moment, even when that meant being in several places at once.” Continue reading

Photographer’s accomplice: Robert Delpire

Great photographers bring us good news and bad news. They’ve captured that decisive moment – and it is beautiful or trenchant, often both. Well, yes, but the young girl* caught by Henri Cartier-Bresson’s lens has since run right out of the frame, never to return. The moment in reality is gone; what we’re left with is the artist’s vision.

Nice consolation prize after all; one for which we’re indebted to an eclectic French publisher – really an impresario of the image: Robert Delpire. If New Yorkers hadn’t known Delpire’s name, or been aware of his contribution –  “Delpire & Co.,” a four-venue show, made a point in Spring 2012 of Delpire’s influence. In fact, as this exhibition coordinated by the Aperture Foundation made clear, Delpire has called the world’s attention over the past six decades not only to genius in photography but also in illustration, graphics and children’s stories.

Delpire’s Illustrateur series hung at the NYU Maison Française (off UniversityPlace in the Washington Mews,  Greenwich Village), and examples of the photographers’ work Continue reading

French movie, anyone? Ooh, la la…

My French movie addiction tends to be a lonely habit. For years, I could hardly get pals to go to with me to films that would turn out, predictably, to feature long conversations about aspects of love, lots of talking heads bobbing around dining tables bigger than are common in New York. The heads were pretty and handsome, and talked intelligently en français, the better for me to concentrate on my French language comprehension. I frowned on subtitles – that, I pointed out to anyone who did dare accompany me, too often were unfaithfully translated, sabotaging the conversation and Continue reading