Jean Christophe Maillot, artistic director of the illustrious Ballet de Monte
Carlo, had taken the iconic 19th-century ballet Swan Lake, set to Tchaikovsky’s
score, and proposed his own rendition in Lac, a highly dramatic, rather sinister
affair with layers of new psychological insights, challenging the original
It was a particularly festive premier, not only due to the
presence of the company’s number one aficionado, princess Caroline, or the
seasonal decorations galore, but because of the great company and the full
philharmonic orchestra of Monte Carlo and its director Nicolas
Maillot had choreographed his own interpretations of some
classics before, but touching the iconic, much-loved Swan Lake was a challenge
since it called for new, relevant interpretation, using more contemporary
The original ballet – as is any good dance – is a product of its
time and clearly reflects social modes and perceptions and so should any later
Maillot cooperated with Goncourt prize winner Jean Rouaud
in developing the new scenario. It scraped the old story of its innocence, gave
up the escapist, almost abstract signature sections; the “white scenes” which
portray the period’s aesthetics and yearn for pious purity.
The center of
mass shifted from the young lovers to the wicked queen of the night.
magnificent diva, who ruled the new dramaturgy and certainly the stage, was
portrayed by the company’s primary dancer Bernice Coppieters, whose dramatic
powers are matched by her potent dancing skills. Under her spell, the flock of
white swans, originally the support group of the beloved Odette, grew – so
symbolically – gray feathers and disowned the poor swan.
Too much effort
(considering he wasn’t the focus of the work) went into building a rather
detailed psychological profile of the weakly prince who outgrew a homosexual
phase through love for a swan. On the plus side were the imaginative and
sophisticated overall design elements and more so the choreographic range within
the neo-classical framework.
Maillot has a terrific sense of space in
handling large scenes and a keen eye for details such as the arms ballet in the
trio of the domineering queen of the night and her two ominous
The ballet was intense and Swan Lake will never be the same
after the tempestuous Lac.