When the French-born but American at heart Benjamin Millepied took over the Paris Opera Ballet in 2014, he stated that the tri-centenarian company was aging in every way. Even though the troupe’s repertoire offered one of the world's widest ranges of ballets, from Nureyev’s masterpieces and Lacotte’s reconstructions to Preljocaj, Teshigawara or Bausch's iconoclastic works, the departing artistic director intended to dust off the supposedly stiff institution. Loudly and clearly. To start with, he nurtured a brand new generation of soloists in their early twenties, whom he brought into the spotlight: Léonore Baulac, Hannah O'Neill and Hugo Marchand. Then he drew a few much-in-demand choreographers in: Justin Peck, Christopher Wheeldon, himself and . . . the great maestro William Forsythe. Relying on James Blake's vibrant electro-soul album The Color in Anything, Forsythe graced the “Millepied generation” with a tailor-made, electrifying, anthem which reads like a contemporary version of “Theme & Variations.” As always, Forsythe’s postmodern vibe was received with standing ovations and earned rave reviews in the press.
William Forsythe's “Blake Works I” for Paris Opera Ballet. Photograph by Ann Ray
The son of a painter and a set designer, director/choreographer Jean-Christophe Maillot was, it seems, destined to have a life in the theater. Born and raised in Tours, in central France, in 1960, he studied dance and piano at the Conservatoire Nacional de Région de Tours before joining the Rosella Hightower International School of Dance in Cannes.Continue Reading
One would think that a dance inspired by the events of the January 6 insurrection—yes, a dance!—would not be the ideal stuff of theater, but the eight members of Laurie Sefton Creates (formerly Clairobscur Dance Company), succeeded in giving life to Sefton’s premiere “Herd. Person?”, while the dance, itself, was occasionally problematic.Continue Reading