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The Nijinsky programme: Maillot – Goecke – Verbruggen – Inger, from October 23rd @LesBalletsDeMonteCarlo

Simone Tribuna, Anjara Ballesteros, Matèj Urban ©AB

In 2009, Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo celebrated the centenary of Les Ballets Russes in Monaco, taking as our watchword to pay tribute to them in the most «astounding» manner possible in order to remain faithful to Diaghilev’s famous injunction to Cocteau. For more than a year, Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo surprised the public by offering a series of new events of ubiquitous originality. The company is now re-engaging with this festive spirit by performing four ballets which echo the legendary figure of Nijinsky.

Daphnis and Chloe, J-Ch. Maillot

Daphnis et Chloé Maillot
“Daphnis et Chloé” by J.-Ch. Maillot ©AB

In this ballet built on fragility and impossible caresses, Jean-Christophe Maillot seeks strategically to distance the original text by Longus and Ravel’s arguments in order to concentrate essentially on ways in which the body behaves and the affective and emotional attitude of said body patterns. Through two beings that tremble at the lightest touch, the choreographer relates the progress of an initiation into love that remains thwarted through to its accomplishment. 

This Daphnis and Chloe places its trust in the universal and confirms Maillot’s desire to draw on life itself to find gestures that bring us together. Conniving with reality in this way immediately establishes a connection with the audience. It casts the spectator back in an instant to the first time they experienced desire; it reactivates the alchemical emotions that gushed from that burning, confusing apprenticeship. 

A further original aspect of importance is collaboration with Ernest Pignon-Ernest. Throughout the ballet, the hand of the visual artist accompanies the two young lovers, gripped by the furies of carnal de- sire, as they progress along a path riddled with pitfalls. Ernest Pignon-Ernest has worked with Jean-Christophe Maillot on many occasions. But here, for the first time, he contributes not only as stage de- signer, but also as an artist, giving form in his drawings to the curve of a shoulder, the turn of a neck or the flight of a hand.  In this ballet, the choreographer and the visual artist do not restrict themselves exclusively to serving the story and the performance; they both embrace their autonomy in a piece that is fragile and hard and that endeavours to come to life gracefully before our eyes.

Choreography: Jean-Christophe Maillot
Scenography and drawings: Ernest Pignon-Ernest
Costumes: Jérôme Kaplan
Music: Maurice Ravel, Daphnis & Chloé, Suites N°1 et 2 ©REDFIELD BV / NORDICE BV, administration: Editions DURAND S.A.
Lighting: Dominique Drillot
Video: Ernest Pignon-Ernest and Matthieu Stefani
Duration: 31 min

Premiere held on April 1st, 2010 at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco

Le Spectre de la Rose, Marco Goecke

Le Spectre de la Rose Goecke
“Le Spectre de la Rose” by Marco Goecke ©AB

A new “Spirit”

From its first performance in Monte-Carlo in 1911, Mikhail Fokine’s ‘Le Spectre de la Rose’ made a name for itself, eventually becoming a legend which still endures today.  The ballet was inspired by Théophile Gautier’s verse — ‘I am the spirit of a rose you wore at the ball yesterday’ («Je suis le spectre d’une rose que tu portais hier au bal ») — and is set to Carl Maria von Weber’s music, “Invitation to the Dance”.  It is the story of a young girl who has just come back from a ball. Falling asleep with a rose in her hands, she dreams of the spirit of the rose, who appears by jumping through her window, dances with her and disappears before she wakes up…

…In 2009, Marco Goecke was commissioned to create his own version of Le Spectre de la Rose.  Unlike Maurice Béjart, who created a parody based on the original ballet in 1979, Goecke’s approach is deeply serious.  He has added six supporting spirits to the principal couple and a second piece of music by Carl Maria von Weber, “The Master of the Spirits” to the original one.   By doing this, the new Spectre is not only longer but Goecke has given the principal dancer the chance to embody a Spirit  who differs from the original version in many ways, particularly in the music for the solo and Marco Goecke’s distinctive  choreographic language. Although the solo includes various jumps, they are neither high nor wide.  Goecke’s interpretation is anything but a eulogy of romanticism.  His choreography often emphasises power and intensity, so avoiding any impression of naturalism.  His vision is not clouded by extravagant stage design, such as the young girl’s bedroom in Fokine’s version.  Even if his costumes are inspired by Gautier’s spirit and red is the principal colour, Goecke’s modern choreography draws on the poem while embracing new interpretations at the same time. 

In spite of great differences of style, his choreography is as inventive as the original.  Using different methods, Goecke has found a unique way of developing the port de bras, finding new combinations for the arms and creating rapidly changing movements.  Like Fokine in his time, Goecke has also changed the relationship between the masculine and feminine roles to find a new balance.  Even though the Spirit is still the principal character in Goecke’s ballet, the feminine role shows great independence and is powerfully interpreted.

Nadja Kadel

Aimai-je un rêve ? Jeroen Verbruggen

Aime-je un rêve? Verbruggen
“Aime-je un rêve?” by J. Verbruggen ©AB

Jeroen Verbruggen purposefully gave his piece a different title from the countless other tributes to Afternoon of a Faun. The choreographer chose one of the first lines from Mallarmé’s famous poem, Aimai-je un rêve ? in order to highlight the introspective aspect of this ballet alongside the bestiality it is generally associated with.

This version of ‘Faun’ strays from the lines of thought present in the original, although the core theme remains that of eroticism. Where the Ballets Russes’ iconic ballet dealt with the unapologetic lust inherent to this hybrid creature, Jeroen Verbruggen examines questions and doubts related to sexual identity. What is our sexual identity? What does our body truly desire, and what unknown experiences does it yearn for? This fresh take on the concept of a single gender led the choreographer to remove the nymphs, a feature of the original that provided too obvious an answer. In working on this production, Jeroen Verbruggen created roles that could be played by girls and boys interchangeably. Aimai-je un rêve ? is an intimate duet in which a faun and a person meet.

The ballet retains similarities with the original Faun, notably in the costumes designed in collaboration with stylist Charlie Le Mindu. White silicone markings are stuck to the mythological creature’s skin in a nod to Léon Bakst’s costume. These sheer markings are barely visible against the faun’s skin, rendering the creature’s identity ambiguous and uncertain. Like a waking dream, nothing in this ballet is truly tangible, with the set design creating an atmosphere of foggy reality, a misty platform for the choreographer’s questioning: “Who is this faun, and what does it want with me…”.

Choregraphy: Jeroen Verbruggen
Music: Claude Debussy
Costumes: Charlie Le Mindu
Lighting: Fabiana Piccioli
Duration: 12 min

With the participation of the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Kazuki Yamada

Creation for Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo
Premiere on December 8th 2018, Salle Garnier Opéra de Monte-Carlo

Petrushka, Johan Inger

Petrouchka Inger
“Petrushka” by Johan Inger ©AB

Petrushka is a doll, a toy in the hands of a magician that makes it dance and jump, in front of everyone’s amazed gaze, in a great popular and bizarre event. Petrushka is a soulless body that dances along his Master’s voice. Stravinsky and Benois placed their story in St. Petersburg in 1830, during its carnival, in the middle of a great folk fair.

Stravinsky et Benois wanted to present the soul of that ‘wimp’, who fights in the midst of the mass for the impossible love of the Ballerina, against the oppression of his ‘master’, against the Moor and against the pressure of the public that he hopes to entertain and make laugh.

Johan Inger takes us to the current and always controversial World of Fashion, where dolls become Mannequins, the Magician becomes an international fashion and mass guru, the protagonists and consumers of an incredible circus of vanities.

Johan Inger with the intention of bringing this story to his aesthetic and narrative world, review this classic in a present and contemporary way providing the necessary dose of criticism and reflection on the world of consumerism, where praise of the youth discards previous generations without further consideration nor emotions.

In my version of this ballet, Petrushka is a window mannequin brought to life with identity and a purpose by a fashion designer. Once used and stripped from his temporary function, he is thrown away into a pile of other used mannequins and battles to understand his destiny, until he meets the Ballerina. He madly falls in love with her but the ballerina herself is in love with the Moor, who will not accept any competition for the Ballerina. The idea that Petrushka’s life purpose would only lead to a broken heart is the controversial point of this story that I am questioning: a tragedy that occurred since centuries and keeps arising when least expected.

Choreography: Johan Inger
Assistant: Christophe Dozzi
Music: Igor Stravinsky
Dramaturgy: Gregor Acuña Pohl
Scenography: Curt Allen Wilmer with estudiodeDos
Costumes: Salvador Mateu Andujar
Lighting: Fabiana Piccioli
Duration: 36 min

With the participation of the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Kazuki Yamada

Creation for Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo
Premiere held on December 8th 2018, Salle Garnier Opéra de Monte-Carlo

For more information check Les Ballets de Monte Carlo here

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