Tag Archive: Jean-Christophe Maillot

Homage to Rainier III, Prince of Monaco

“Soirée Maurice Ravel” (“La Valse”/“L’Enfant et les Sortilèges”)
Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo
Salle des Princes, Grimaldi Forum
Monte-Carlo, Monaco
December 23, 2023

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2023 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Ensemble, “La Valse” by G.Balanchine, Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo 2023 © A.BlangeroThis year, Monaco celebrated the centenary anniversary of Prince Rainier III (1923–2005), the Principality’s monarch and head of state for almost 56 years. One highlight among the numerous events and exhibitions was a new double bill of Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, featuring Balanchine’s La Valse and the company’s artistic director, Jean-Christophe Maillot’s L’Enfant et les Sortilèges (The Child and the Spell). Both pieces are set to music by Maurice Ravel. L’Enfant et les Sortilèges is a one-act opera with a libretto by Colette whose 150th anniversary happens to be celebrated this year. World War I delayed its premiere at the Monte-Carlo Opera until 1925. Back then, Balanchine choreographed the dance sequences. In 1992, Maillot created his adaption. As a tribute to Prince Rainier – who is said to have loved Ravel’s music in general and especially L’Enfant et les Sortilèges – he presented a new version this year. There were only four performances scheduled at the Grimaldi Forum, and I saw the last one on December 23rd. It was attended by Prince Albert II, Princess Caroline, and Princess Stéphanie and opened with Monaco’s anthem. (more…)

Unwilling (but actually eager)

“The Taming of the Shrew”
Les Ballets de Monte Carlo
Forum Ludwigsburg
Ludwigsburg, Germany
July 23, 2022

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

1. A.Tognoloni (Katherine) and F.Mariottini (Petruchio), “The Taming of the Shrew” by J.-C.Maillot, Les Ballets de Monte Carlo 2022 © A.BlangeroThe gender dynamics depicted by Shakespeare in “The Taming of the Shrew” render it one of his most controversial plays. Staging it risks setting off a litany of accusations. Some deem the comedy to be misogynistic, chauvinistic, and sexist. Nevertheless, Jean-Christophe Maillot found the guts to choreograph a new adaption for the Bolshoi Ballet in 2014 that has become hugely popular. In 2017, he modified it for his own company – Les Ballets de Monte Carlo. Last weekend, the troupe performed the piece on tour in Ludwigsburg.

Following the lead of earlier choreographers of the work, Maillot omitted Shakespeare’s frame story (the drunken tinker Christopher Sly is fooled into experiencing a make-believe world). The frame story allows the central story (about Baptista’s struggle to marry his two daughters – the much-courted Bianca and the wayward Katherine) (more…)

Soft Wrapping – Crisp Core

“Soirée 3 Choréographes” (“Claude Pascal” / “Casi Casa” / “Back on Track 61”)
Les Ballets de Monte Carlo
Salle des Princes, Grimaldi Forum
Monte Carlo, Monaco
July 16, 2022

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

1. L.Beyne (Marie-Claire), A.Reist (Pierre-Marie), A.Maksakov (Jean-Pascale), and G.Riou (Marie-Claude), “Claude Pascal” by J.Kylián, Les Ballets de Monte Carlo 2022 © A.BlangeroLes Ballet de Monte Carlo’s recent triple bill combines a new piece by the company’s artistic director Jean-Christophe Maillot (“Back on Track 61”) with Jiří Kylián’s “Claude Pascal” (2002) and Mats Ek’s “Casi Casa” (2009).

“Claude Pascal” is a misleading title, as no one in Kylián’s black-and-white-hued piece is so named. There’s Marie-Claire (Lou Beyne), a grand dame with a Russian accent and a fan collection; the childish Marie-Claude (Gaëlle Riou), who plays rock n’ roll on her tennis racket; Jean-Pascale (Artjom Maksakov), wielding a walking cane and talking about hair loss and grief-stuffed pants (…); and the athletically-inclined Pierre-Marie (Adam Reist), who recites an excerpt from Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” on the life expectancies of turtles, elephants, parrots, frogs, and fakirs. All four are time travelers from 1890(ish) – (more…)

Olga Smirnova on “The Sleeping Beauty”

“The Sleeping Beauty”
Bolshoi Ballet
Bolshoi Theatre
Moscow, Russia
January 17, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. I.Alexeyev, O.Smirnova, A.Belyakov and ensemble, “The Sleeping Beauty” by Y.Grigorovich after M.Petipa, Bolshoi Ballet © D.Yusupov 2017This Sunday, on January 22nd, the Bolshoi Ballet will stream “The Sleeping Beauty” live to cinemas all over the world. It is the Petipa-based version that Yuri Grigorovich created in 2011 for the re-opening of the Bolshoi’s historic stage which has lavish set designs by Ezio Frigerio and equally sumptuous costumes by Franca Squarciapino. Sunday’s cast includes Olga Smirnova as Princess Aurora alongside Semyon Chudin as her Prince. As the Lilac Fairy, Yulia Stepanova will counter Alexei Loparevich’s Carabosse.
I skyped with Olga Smirnova a few days prior to the cinema broadcast to talk about the piece and her role. Katerina Novikova, head of the Bolshoi’s press office, kindly interpreted from the Russian. Smirnova’s responses are in italics. (more…)

Maillot Revives His Beauty

“La Belle”
Les Ballets de Monte Carlo
Salle des Princes Grimaldi Forum
Monte Carlo, Monaco
December 30, 2016

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. S.Chudin and O.Smirnova, “La Belle” by J.-C.Maillot, Les Ballets de Monte Carlo © A.Blangero 2017Shortly after Christmas Les Ballets de Monte Carlo revived “La Belle”, Jean-Christophe Maillot’s version of “La belle au bois dormant”, written by Charles Perrault in 1697. Maillot kept his original choreography from 2001 as well as Ernest Pignon-Ernest’s set design, but commissioned Jérôme Kaplan for new costumes most of which comically quote details of 16th century fashion. The music is Tchaikovsky’s but trimmed to around two hours.

Perrault took his inspiration from “Sun, Moon and Talia”, a fairytale written by Giambattista Basile in 1834, to which Maillot included some references. (more…)

Maillot’s Idea of How to Tame

Taming of the Shrew”
Bolshoi Ballet
Royal Opera House
London, Great Britain
August 03, 2016

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2016 by Ilona Landgraf

1. E.Krysanova and V.Lantratov, “The Taming of the Shrew” by J.-C.Maillot, Bolshoi Ballet © M.Logvinov/Bolshoi TheatreThe Bolshoi Ballet’s three-week tour to London draws crowds of ballet aficionados to the Royal Opera House. Every evening each of the five productions is sold out. Those include the much-loved classics, “Swan Lake”, “Don Quixote” and “Le Corsaire”, as well as “The Flames of Paris” by Alexei Ratmansky and Jean-Christophe Maillot’s “The Taming of the Shrew” which premiered two years ago at the Bolshoi. “Shrew” was scheduled only twice. I saw the first performance.

Similar to Kurt-Heinz Stolze’s Scarlatti-pastiche for John Cranko’s “Shrew”, Maillot also cobbled together the score. He assembled less well known film music and excerpts of symphonies by Dmitri Shostakovich which go along with the events on stage like lubricating oil. Whether swooshing or romantic, the Orchestra of the Bolshoi Theatre under Igor Dronov’s baton played with verve.

The story sets off at the estate of Baptista, a wealthy lord in Padua. But the two broad, curved outdoor stairs arching over the house’s entrance, designed by Ernest Pignon-Ernest, don’t relate to any specific town. Baptista is beset with two daughters, the prickly Katharina and her younger sister, the much-adored Bianca. But the latter will not be allowed to marry until Katharina first wears her wedding ring. (more…)