Jean-Christophe Maillot & his muse Bernice Coppieters dancing together In the Company of Jiří Kylián

Kylián’s trilogy anniversary program

As part of the 30th anniversary celebration of the Ballet of Monte-Carlo, from April 28 through May 1, 2016, the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco featured a trilogy of ballets by the famous Jiří Kylián: Bella Figura, Gods and Dogs and Chapeau, specially dreamed up for the forty talented dancers of the Ballet of Monte-Carlo he so loves, at the request of Jean-Christophe Maillot his greatest admirer. It is a great honor when we know very well that all the companies in the world battle to feature the Czech choreographer’s creative works!

Kathleen Nies, Jean-Christophe Maillot and Celina Lafuente de Lavotha

My dear friend Kathleen had come from Belgium to celebrate her wedding anniversary with us in Monte-Carlo, so my husband, who is a true gentleman, relinquished his ticket so Kathleen could join me at the ballet on Friday, April 29, in the evening.

As it was the Nuit Blanche in Monaco we decided to meet at Villa Sauber, before the performance, to visit the exhibition Villa Marlene, a project by Francesco Vezzoli about his greatly admired Marlene Dietrich.

It was in the gardens of the villa that we had the chance to meet my favorite Ballet Director in the whole world Jean-Christophe Maillot, what an incredible coincidence, and we got a photo souvenir. It was a sign the evening was going to be really special!

What is life if not a dream 

Bella Figura (1995), Kylián’s most exemplary piece is a one-act ballet made up of a series of duets, trios and quartets for nine dancers, set to baroque music that include selections of Pergolesi, Marcello, Vivaldi and Torelli. Bella Figura explores esthetic ambiguity of theatrical representation regarding illusions of “performance” in life, and the division between art and artifice, reality and imagination. “The words ‘Bella Figura” in Italian don’t only stand for ‘Beautiful body’, they also represent a philosophical resilience of people facing a difficult situation – consequently it also means ‘Putting on a brave face,” Kylian said. Through this captivating state of the art piece Kylián makes us wonder: “what is life if not a dream?”

The joy of watching Maillot dance with his muse 

After the first intermission we were reserved a surprise in the form of the projection of a short film entitled Oskar, produced in just a few days. Belgium star dancer Bernice Coppieters and the director and choreographer Jean-Christophe Maillot danced together to the music of the recently disappeared Prince, making mimics that the comic De Funes did in his homonymous film “Oscar” but with a “c”. It was a unique moment for the ballet lovers because the Monegasque public had never seen Maillot dance! Seeing him at the villa and then on then dancing was a double treat! Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Ballet of Monte-Carlo is a serious matter for Jean-Christophe Maillot, but he certainly knows how to have fun.

The masks we wear

In the case of Gods and Dogs (2008), Kylian’s 100th piece with music by Ludwig van Beethoven, is a mysterious chamber ballet for four pairs, where the artist navigates through the confines between normality and delusion, and reflects on the criteria that delineate both states of mind. The artist duels on the way we dress and the subconscious motivations that push us to choose one piece of clothing over another one. We are born naked, with no protection and the first clothes we experience are the diapers. Throughout our lives, the costumes we wear become like masks that we interchange according to the circumstances and how we are judged, in our effort to find our place in society.

Bernice Coppieters honoring legendary singer Prince

Kylian’s insightful observations are not necessarily translated into somber and dramatic works, on the contrary he believes that there is always room for frivolity and craziness is never too far away, like he demonstrates in Chapeau (2005). A funny piece he created on the occasion of her Majesty Queen Beatrix of Holland Silver Jubilee, and commissioned by the city of The Hague in co-production with Nederland Dans Theater and Holland Dance Festival, celebrating their 10th edition. The hats used in this piece, were reproduced by Elizabeth van der Helm, and adapted from Queen Beatrix’s original collection. This was the first time ever that Chapeau was performed in front of the public.

This colorful and full of surprises ballet will remain as an unforgettable experience for the audience in the Principality, specially when unexpectedly ballet diva Bernice Coppieters appeared on stage wearing a colorful metallic hat dancing Musicology by legendary Prince, to honor the recently disappeared American pop singer. It was really touching and memorable!

Today’s Quote

“Dancers are the athletes of God.” Albert Einstein

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