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Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo
Under the Presidency of HRH The Princess of Hanover
Choreographer and Director: Jean-Christophe Maillot

39th Hamburg Ballet-Days
Hamburg State Opera, June 18 and 19, 2013
 
 

Romeo and Juliet
Ballet by Jean-Christophe Maillot after William Shakespeare
 

 
Premiere
Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, Monte-Carlo Opera, Salle Garnier
December 23, 1996
 

Music
  Serge Prokofiev
     
Choreography
  Jean-Christophe Maillot
     
Set
  Ernest Pignon-Ernest
     
Costumes
  Jérôme Kaplan
     
Lichting
  Dominique Drillot

 
In his version of Romeo and Juliet, Jean-Christophe Maillot has taken formal inspiration from the episodic character of Prokofiev's score, structuring the action in a manner akin to cinematic narrative. Rather than focusing on the themes of political-social opposition between the two feuding clans, this Romeo and Juliet highlights the dualities and ambiguities of adolescence. Torn between contradictory impulses, between tenderness and violence, fear and pride, the lovers are caught in the throes of a tragedy that exemplifies their youth and the extreme emotions and internal conflicts that characterise that time of life. A time of life when destiny, more than at any other moment, seems to escape conscious control, and when the inner turmoil occasioned by passions and ideals can sometimes have disproportionate -even fatal- consequences. In evoking this fragile and volatile state of being, the painter Ernest Pignon-Ernest has created a decor marked by transparency and lightness: a play of simple forms that reveals an underlying complexity of meaning.

 

 

Synopsis

A long time ago, there lived in Verona two rich and powerful families - the Montagues and the Capulets - who hated each other with mutual ferocity and loathing. It was customary for the young people of each familiy to regard one another with strong suspicion, and to seek the slightest opportunity for confrontation. The drama thus begins when a swift and deep passion is suddenly engendered between Juliet and Romeo, of the Capulet and Montague families respectively, and seems to follow a logical and inevitable progression of its own. For it is not so much the hatred between the two families which is the source of the lovers' tragic destiny, but the law of chance, of hazards of circumstance. The instrument of this destiny is Friar Laurence, a strange individual, who in seeking to do good, allows the worst to happen.

Thus the story begins quite naturally, for Jean-Christophe Maillot, with the presence of this imposing but powerless strategist, flanked by two acolytes, characters who do not exist in Shakespeare's play, but who symbolize here two states of a single being : that hybrid self deep inside us, wich desiring to act, is nonetheless acted upon. The action commences with a fight scene, organised around the principal protagonists of the drama: Mercutio and Benvolio for the Montague, Tybalt for the Capulet; Juliet, daughter of the Capulets, has been betrothed by her parents to Paris. She appears at the ball that her parents are giving. Romeo, who covets the unresponsive Rosalind, a guest at the ball, creeps in with his friends, and unexpectedly finds Juliet instead. Falling instantly in love, a kiss consummates their first encounter, and the wheel of fate is set in motion. That same night, in the Capulets’ garden, they declare their love, which they will seal the following day.

It is the festival day on the grand square of Verona. Juliet's nurse gives Romeo a letter which instructs him to meet his beloved at the convent, where Friar Laurence will secretly unite them. But the law of chance does not allow matters to rest there. Romeo, who dislikes the idea of fighting, finds himself obliged to avenge his friend Mercutio, mortally wounded by Tybalt, who has sought this conflict with the Montagues. In turn, Romeo kills Tybalt, who is Juliet's cousin. After taking refuge with his adored Juliet for one night of love, Romeo must leave. It is Friar Laurence, the facilitator of this mad passion, who proposes an idea to Juliet that is at once brilliant and fatal: a potion that will give her the appearance of death, but in fact merely put her into a deep sleep. But the illusion of death also fools Romeo, who Friar Laurence does not have time to warn of the ruse. Mad with despair, Romeo kills himself, unknowingly leaving a desperate Juliet to commit suicide in turn when she wakes to find him dead.

What happens afterwards, Shakespeare does not reveal

 

 

The Company

THE ANCHORING OF DANCE IN MONACO: RUSSIAN BALLET
1909 marks the beginning of a strong presence of choreographic art in Monaco. Serge de Diaghilev presents his Russian Ballet in Paris for the first time. They set up in Monte-Carlo which becomes their creative workshop for the next two decades. Since the Principality, Diaghilev has reformed ballet in his time in all its forms. Upon his death in 1929, the company was dissolved. Several personalities and choreographers revived it under various names but it disappeared completely in 1951.

THE BIRTH OF THE CURRENT MONTE-CARLO BALLET COMPANY
In 1985, the Monte-Carlo Ballet Company was born thanks to the want of H.R.H. the Princess of Hanover, who wanted to enrol in this dance tradition in Monaco. The new company was directed by Ghislaine Thesmar and Pierre Lacotte, then by Jean-Yves Esquerre.

THE RAPID EXPANSION OF THE COMPANY
In 1993, H.R.H. the Princess of Hanover nominates Jean-Christophe Maillot as the head of the Monte-Carlo Ballets. Backed by experience as a dancer from Rosella Hightower and John Neumeier, and choreographer-director of the National Choreographic Centre of Tours, Jean-Christophe Maillot takes his turn in the company. He creates more than 30 ballets for her, including several which enter the repertoire of large international companies. The Monte-Carlo Ballets are now in demand throughout the world thanks to the iconic works of Jean-Christophe Maillot such as Vers un pays sage (1995), Roméo et Juliette (1996), Cendrillon (1999) La Belle (2001), Le Songe (2005), Altro Canto (2006), Faust (2007), LAC (2011) and Choré (2013).

Furthermore, Jean-Christophe Maillot also enriches the company’s repertoire by inviting the major choreographers of our time but also enabling emerging choreographers to work with this exceptional tool, which are the 50 dancers of the Monte-Carlo Ballets. Among these guest choreographers are Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Shen Wei, Alonzo King, Emio Greco, Chris Haring, Marco Goecke, Lucinda Childs, William Forsythe, Jiri Kylian, Karole Armitage, Maurice Béjart and even Marie Chouinard.

In 2000, Jean-Christophe creates the Monaco Dance Forum, international window to dance that presents an eclectic fusion of spectacles, exhibitions, workshops and conferences. The company regularly participates in this festival and the Princess Grace Dance Academy.

THE FUTURE OF MONTE-CARLO BALLET
In 2011, under the chairmanship of H.R.H. the Princess of Hanover, a new structure directed by Jean-Christophe Maillot reunites these three institutions: The Monte-Carlo Ballets currently concentrates on the excellence of an international company, the assets of a diverse festival and the potential for a school of a high level. Creation, training and production are currently reunited in Monaco to serve choreography in an unprecedented manner in the world of dance.

 

THE DANCERS
Carmen Andres, April Ball, Anjara Ballesteros, Anja Behrend, Sivan Blitzova, Bernice Coppieters, Francesca Dolci, Vanessa Henriques, Liisa Hamalainen, Mimoza Koike, Frances Murphy, Tiffany Pacheco, Noelani Pantastico, Erin Patak, Quinn Pendleton, Gaëlle Riou, Maude Sabourin, Anne-Laure Seillan, Yi Sun, Kaori Tajima, Beatriz Uhalte, Simone Webster

Aurélien Alberge, Raphaël Bouchard, Stephan Bourgond, Piotr Czubowicz, Edgar Castillo, Gabriele Corrado, Daniele Delvecchio, Léart Duraku, Asier Edeso, Ediz Erguc, Julien Guerin, Joseph Hernandez, Giovanni Mongelli, Gaëtan Morlotti, Alexis Oliveira, George Oliveira, Lucien Postlewaite, Alvaro Prieto, Chris Roelandt, Bruno Roque, Stefan Stewart, Asier Uriagereka, Jeroen Verbruggen

 

 

Jean-Christophe Maillot

Rosella Hightower liked to say of her student Jean-Christophe Maillot, that his life was just a union of opposites. In fact, for the current Choreographer-Director of the Ballets de Monte-Carlo, dance combines with theatre, enters the ring under a big top, evolves into the arena of visual arts, is fuelled by the most diverse scores and explores different forms of literature... His repertoire draws from the world of art in the broadest sense and each ballet is a sketch book which feeds the following work. Thus, over 30 years, Jean- Christophe Maillot has created an ensemble of sixty pieces ranging from great narrative ballets to shorter formats, and where multiple connections reflect a work which forms part of the history and diversity. Neither classical nor contemporary, not even between the two, Jean-Christophe Maillot refuses to adhere to one style and designs dance like a dialogue where tradition on pointes and the avant-garde are no longer mutually exclusive.

Born in 1960, Jean-Christophe Maillot studied dance and piano at the Conservatoire National de Région de Tours, before joining the Rosella Hightower International School of Dance in Cannes until winning the Prix de Lausanne in 1977. He was then hired by John Neumeier at The Hamburg Ballet, where he danced in principal roles as a soloist for five years. An accident brought his dancing career to an abrupt end.

In 1983, he was appointed choreographer and director of the Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Tours, which later became a National Centre of Choreography. He created around twenty ballets for this company and in 1985, founded the Dance Festival, "Le Chorégraphique". In 1987, he created Le Mandarin Merveilleux for the Ballets de Monte-Carlo, which was a great success. He became the company's Artistic Advisor for the 1992-1993 season and was then appointed Director- Choreographer by H.R.H. the Princess of Hanover in September 1993.

His arrival at the Ballets de Monte-Carlo set the company on a new path that quickly developed the level of maturity and excellence for which this company of 50 dancers has been renowned for 20 years. He has created almost 30 ballets for the company, some of which, such as Vers un pays sage (1995), Romeo and Juliet (1996), Cinderella (1999) La Belle (2001), Le Songe (2005), Altro Canto (2006), Faust (2007), LAC (2011) and Choré (2013) have forged the reputation of the Ballets de Monte-Carlo across the world. Several of these works are now included in the repertoires of major international ballet companies, such as the Grands Ballets Canadiens, the Royal Swedish Ballet, the Korean National Ballet, the Stuttgart Ballet, the Royal Danish Ballet, the Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève, the Pacific Northwest Ballet, the American Ballet Theatre and the Béjart Ballet Lausanne.

Also aware of the work of other artists, Jean-Christophe Maillot is known for his spirit of openness and his commitment to inviting choreographers with a different style to create for the company. In 2000, this same desire to present the choreographic art in all its many forms led him to create the Monaco Dance Forum, an international showcase for dance which presents an eclectic proliferation of shows, exhibitions, workshops and conferences.

In 2007, he produced his first stage opera, Faust for the Hessisches Staatstheater and in 2009 Norma for the Monte-Carlo Opera. In 2007, he created his first choreographic film with Cinderella then Le Songe in 2008. In 2009, he developed the content and coordinated the Centenary of the Ballets Russes in Monaco, which would see over 50 companies and choreographers pass through the Principality in one year, providing entertainment for 60,000 audience members. In 2011, dance in Monaco underwent a major and historical change. Under the presidency of H.R.H. the Princess of Hanover, the Ballets de Monte-Carlo now incorporates the Ballets de Monte-Carlo Company, the Monaco Dance Forum and the Princess Grace Academy of Dance under a single organisation. Jean- Christophe Maillot was appointed head of this organisation which now unites the excellence of an international company, the benefits of a multi-format festival and the potential of a high-level school.

Jean-Christophe Maillot is an Officer in the Ordre du Mérite Culturel of the Principality of Monaco, Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et Lettres and Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur in France. On 17th November 2005, he was appointed Chevalier of the Ordre de Saint Charles by H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco. In 2010, in Moscow, he received the Prix Benois de la Danse for the Best Choreographer along with the "Premio Dansa Valencia 2010".

Text © Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo / Photo © Marie-Laure Briane (Portrait)

 
Jean-Christophe Maillot 
Choreographer Directo

 
 
Synopsis

1 intermission
2 hours 30 min.

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