Never a dull moment

Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal returns with three scintillating pieces

Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal (photo credit: Courtesy)
Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal
(photo credit: Courtesy)
During the first week of February, acclaimed Canadian troupe Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal (BJM) will come to Israel for six performances. During their first visit here, the company thrilled audiences with a three-part program that included works by Aszure Barton and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. As a repertory company, BJM strives to consistently bring in the biggest and brightest stars in the dance world to create works for the company. Under the artistic directorship of Louis Robitaille, BJM has amassed a long list of contributing artists. The company will perform four times at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center, followed by one show at the Jerusalem Theater and one at the Haifa Auditorium.
For its second Israeli visit, the company will present another three-part program, this time featuring works by Barak Marshall, Benjamin Millepied and Wen Wei Wang. These three choreographers have come into recognition over the past several years. Each has his own aesthetic signature and style. Put together, the three works show a range of performance possibilities that include humor, technical movement, theatrics, musicality and dynamics.
Barak Marshall is a familiar name in the Israeli dance community. In fact, it was in Israel that the American-born Marshall cut his teeth as a choreographer and later returned to establish himself as a unique voice in the dance world. Marshall’s three Israeli works, Monger, Rooster and Wonderland, have toured extensively throughout the world, catching the eye of many a programmer. For BJM, Marshall created Harry, a narrative dance piece about a character struggling to deal with existential and physical challenges.
“Life is a constant struggle,” Marshall says, “in which we are continually faced with conflicts with regard to culture, gender, species.”
As with all of Marshall’s pieces, energetic sections interweave with theatrical moments, all set to a roller coaster musical score.
Wen Wei Wang’s Night Box takes the audience out on the town for a bout of wild debauchery with the company. When creating the piece, Wang sought to capture the lights, sounds and vibe of a city, particularly at night. Just as sprawling urban metropolises never sleep, there are no dull moments in Night Box. For this piece, Wang called upon Montreal-based fashion designers UNTTLD to create fabulous, urban costumes. Wang is a well-known choreographer in Canada. Born and raised in China, he traveled across the globe to join the Judith Marcuse Company in British Colombia. After several years with Ballet British Columbia, Wang began to choreograph his own works for his company Wen Wei Dance. Today, his dances are seen on stages all over, danced by his company and others.
Many may recognize the name Benjamin Millepied from the credits of Darren Aronofsky’s film Black Swan. As the choreographer of the film, Millepied officially joined the Hollywood elite; however, he has been a golden boy in the dance world for many years. Born in France, Millepied went to New York to study at the School of American Ballet. He went on to dance for the New York City Ballet for 16 seasons, retiring from the troupe in 2011. Millepied founded his own company, Danses Concertantes, after leaving the ballet and has gone on to choreograph for a number of internationally acclaimed troupes. It was recently announced that starting in September, Millepied will take over as the new director of the prestigious Paris Opera Ballet.
To BJM, Millepied brought Closer, a duet danced to music written by Philip Glass. The piece premiered at the Joyce Theater in New York City in 2006, with live music performed by Glass. Of the three works in the evening, Closer is the most classical, featuring pointed toes, stunning turns and harmonious partnering.
BJM will perform at TAPAC from February 2 – 5 (; at the Jerusalem Theater on February 6 (; and at the Haifa Auditorium on February 8 (