Jean-Christophe Maillot reimagined The Taming of the Shrew for his dancers in Monaco

Made for the Ballets of Monte-Carlo

Jean-Christophe Maillot revamped his own masterpiece The Taming of the Shrew for the Ballets of Monte-Carlo, performed at the Salle des Princes at the Grimaldi Forum in the Principality this current holiday season, to standing public ovation! Maillot found solace working at home, satiating his quest for perfection from the close interaction with his own dancers who provided answers to his most pressing queries, plus the invaluable collaboration of his muse former prima ballerina turned choreographer Bernice Coppieters. (Photo insert: Ekaterina Petina (Katharina) and Matej Urban (Petruchio) The Taming of the Shrew 2017-18 @Alice Blangero)

This spectacular ballet in two acts originally brought into being by Maillot for the legendary Bolshoi Ballet, with music extracts by Dmitri Chostakovich he specially selected that fit like a glove, premiered first in Moscow and then in Monaco in 2014 inaugurating the Russian year celebrations in the Principality. It had been a historic event when the Bolshoi invited a foreign choreographer, to create a large-scale narrative ballet for its dancers for the first time ever. Maillot had previously refused all offers to create a new ballet for any other company, but artistic director Sergei Filin, who more than a year earlier had been almost blinded by a cruel acid attack but who never lots his aesthetic vision, finally persuaded him to take the challenge. Maillot succeeded in producing an exhilarating and at times whimsical but violent and very sensual dance like we have never seen before on stage, with that touch of vagary that is his hallmark.

Love works in mysterious ways

The Taming of the Shrew is a comedy by William Shakespeare, written between 1590 and 1592, that has been subject to critical controversy, considering it misogynist and patriarchal even if it is a farce. The Taming of the Shrew is mostly humorous with a twist of irony, while addressing a serious theme: the search for your soul mate in a world where convention defeats trust, so finding the perfect partner is a paramount challenge.

The main argument depicts Baptista as a rich gentleman and the father of Katharina and Bianca. Tradition forced him to marry his elder daughter Katherina first even when all admirers preferred younger and gentler Bianca. The subplot features a competition between the elder sister suitors and her more desirable sister Bianca, but the main story centers on the courtship of Petruchio, a gentleman from Verona, and Katherina, the headstrong, obdurate shrew, a woman with violent temper and how her husband tames her to submission.

Their love is out of the ordinary, Petruchio could appear to focus only on Baptista’s fortune, but the truth is he is really interested in Katherina. However, he feels the need to put her through a series of challenges to prove that they are perfect for each other. She ends up giving in to her husband’s demands, not because she has found her master, but because she has met her match!

Jean-Christophe Maillot made it a point to focus on what really matters in a romantic relationship repudiating the notion of male supremacy, by deconstructing love in all its forms, daring to question social conventions, while constantly pushing his dancers leap outside the box, both physically and emotionally.

In last night’s performance Ekaterina Petina was splendid as Katharina the shrew, in her passionate interaction with abrupt but always sensual Petruchio played by Matej Urban, while Marianna Barabas was ethereal and sublime as the beautiful and docile Bianca in her love affair with Lucentio (Alexis Oliveira).

Today’s Quote

“Dance is the hidden language of the soul of the body.” Martha Graham

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