Review: ARTISTE? at Théâtre Le Grand Point Virgule

Confessions of a Not So Classical Dancer

By: Jan. 21, 2024
Review: ARTISTE? at Théâtre Le Grand Point Virgule
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Review: ARTISTE? at Théâtre Le Grand Point Virgule Are you born an artist, or do you become one? That’s the question triple threat Axel Alvarez asks himself and the audience during his confessional one-man show, subtitled Confessions of a Not So Classical Dancer. In fact, the question is, as he admits at the end, rhetorical. He was born to dance, and his gift helped him overcome problems with his mother at home and with dyslexia at school. Passionately, he trained hard enough to have the opportunity to join the corps of the prestigious Opéra de Paris before dancing for Christopher Wheeldon (famous for An American in Paris and MJ on Broadway) in the English National Ballet at the Royal Albert Hall. His passion for Broadway made him venture into other fields, notably singing and tapdancing. In 2015 his musical theater dream became a reality when he was cast at Mr. Mistoffeless in the French version of Cats at Mogador before joining its international tour, including stops in China. In 2022, after training intensively with Victor Cuno, Alvarez became a swing in Alexis Michalik’s wildly successful French adaptation of Mel Brooks The Producers at Théâtre de Paris, where he also showcased his one-man show after previously “Putting It Together” at the Théâtre de la Reine Blanche in 2022. Review: ARTISTE? at Théâtre Le Grand Point Virgule

Alvarez is showstopping dancer in both ballet and musical theater, possessing a particular affinity with the Fosse style, as displayed in his fist bossa nova solo that he choreographed himself and his finale “Sing, Sing, Sing”, choreographed by Millard Hurley.  But he was equally spectacular in his Michael Jackson number, showing again the influence the great master Fosse had on the latter.

Unlike many ballet dancers, his virtuoso technique, displayed in his Chopin piece, also self-choreographed with the help of Romain Di Fazio, is not distracting when dancing in other styles, even in his tap number, choreographed by Victor Cuno, which reminds us of an angry Billy Elliot.  Alvarez also has well-trained voice, seamlessly channeling Edith Piaf in “No Regrets” and delivering a heartfelt “The Music in the Mirror” from A Chorus Line, which should have been followed by one more spectacular dance break.  Perhaps he wanted to stick to his autobiographical narrative so that the show would not devolve into a mere dance recital. His self-reflection on rejection and failure is quite moving, even if the several characters he portrays, such as his mother or his dance teacher, are not always clearly identifiable, but what matters is that he manages to take us through his life journey while balancing drama, comedy, and energy to convey a viscerally contagious passion for his art. 

Of course, Alvarez couldn’t have done it without the direction of Pascal George-Le Floch, assistant choreographer Charlyne Ribul Conte, or the lighting of Deyan Bussière.  We are left in awe of his multiple talents, hoping that his one-man show will be met with the success it deserves and that it matures even more with time. Meanwhile, it would be great to see this triple-threat's talents used in a musical on Parisian stages.Review: ARTISTE? at Théâtre Le Grand Point Virgule


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