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Ballet de Monte Carlo
Monte Carlo, Monaco
The Ballet de Monte Carlo celebrated its 20th anniversary at the end of April with unique and brave attempt to find a common denominator between its artistic director, Jean-Christophe Maillot - best known for his Haut Couture finesse - and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Europe's new up and coming maverick of contemporary dance.
Both choreographers worked with the dancers of the Ballet de Monte Carlo for this festive series of performances, attended by the heads of the principality of Monaco (the company's highly active honorary president is none other than Princess Caroline).
Maillot premiered "L'Altro Canto" set to the 17th century music of Monteverdi followed by Cherkaoui's "Mea Culpa" set to music of same period by Heinrich Schutz. As expected, the music influenced both works, but the differences between the two choreographers moved the pieces in juxtaposing directions, unified only by the presence of guilt as a propelling theme.
This is Cherkaoui's second collaboration with the Ballet de Monte Carlo, but the first attempt of its kind to present both creators in a unique double bill. While Maillot dealt with ample Christian and religious innuendoes and philosophical themes, Cherkaui opted to focus on contemporary issues, such as the political and and social injustices perpetrated by western society, ranging from negligence in dealing with Third World miseries to spreading global consumerism.
"Mea Culpa" opened with the virtuoso solo of Asier Uriagereka, leaving a breath-taking impact on the audience. His powerful use of imposed positions forced his body into aggressive falls on his knees and elbows. By coiling his body and intertwining his limbs and flinging his body to the floor, Uriagereka gave new meaning to the deconstructive use of the body.
However, about half way through, the momentum of Cherkaoui's work slowed, and the potency of the work's multiple agendas faded somewhat.
Bernice Coppieters, the dominant performer in "Alto Canto" belied her small frame with her enormous physical strength and her emotional depth. The work itself was well constructed with exquisite scenes of great sensitivity. Maillot's carefully detailed work with its meticulous compositions served as a glorious journey, dancing guilty souls off into oblivion.