Dance Review: Ballet de Monte Carlo

Garimaldi Forum, December 27

BALLET DE MONTE CARLO 311 (photo credit: Courtesy of Angela Sterling))
(photo credit: Courtesy of Angela Sterling))
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 libretto.
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 Brochot.
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 tools.
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 interpretation.
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.
This 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 subordinates.
The ballet was intense and Swan Lake will never be the same after the tempestuous Lac.