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Les Ballets de Monte Carlo in Tel Aviv: Ballet for the 21st Century

Posted on 18 June 2009 by Deborah Friedes Galili

Video: Les Ballets de Monte Carlo in Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Altro Canto

Dance history buff that I am, I was thrilled when I got to interview Jean-Christophe Maillot.  Why?  He directs Les Ballets de Monte Carlo, which in some ways carries on the legacy of the legendary Ballets Russes.  Yet even with these rich historical roots (or perhaps because of them), this top-notch company presents decidedly 21st-century work.  Read on to understand why!

This article was first published as “A Midsummer Dream” in the Jerusalem Post on June 14th, 2009.

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“Each time I go to a new country, I always go with a tremendous hope that what we will bring is completely different – because the environment is different, because the culture is different, because the history of the country is different,” explains Jean-Christophe Maillot, choreographer for Les Ballets de Monte Carlo.

Since 1993, the French-born choreographer has led Monaco’s world-renowned dance company on tours around the globe.  Yet for Maillot and most of the troupe’s 46 dancers, the company’s performances at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center will mark their first visit to Israel – and Maillot is looking forward to it.

Maillot’s hope may well be fulfilled on this tour.  Firmly rooted in the classical ballet tradition while moving forward with a distinctly contemporary style of choreography, Les Ballets de Monte Carlo is indeed different from much of Israel’s dance scene.  This contrast should prove exciting not only for Maillot, but for Israeli audiences as well.

Though it may seem paradoxical, Les Ballets de Monte Carlo’s freshness stems from a rich history.  Monaco’s ballet tradition stretches back to the early decades of the 20th century, when Russian impresario Sergei Diaghilev brought his famed Ballets Russes to Monte Carlo.  The ground-breaking company dissolved when Diaghilev died in 1929, but it was reconstituted three years later by Colonel de Basil and Rene Blum.  Conflicts between the directors led to a split, and under Blum’s leadership, the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo continued to win praise with its cast of star dancers and inventive choreographers.

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