The Acropolis in Nice has an exciting programme of dance lined up, with two of the most popular ballets in repertoire, and something completely new.

The season opens at 8pm on Saturday, 30th November, with a fascinating new production of Carmen. Not only is Bizet’s opera the most popular ever written, but the story has also become a favourite in the world of ballet.

From Marius Petipa’s 1845 version (not set to the music of Bizet, which wasn’t written until 1875), there have over the years been adaptations by a number of choreographers – set to either Bizet’s score or Rodion Shchedrin’s Carmen Suite.

Amongst the best known are Roland Petit’s version for the Paris Opéra Ballet in 1949, Alberto Alonso’s for Bolshoi ballerina Maya Plisetskaya in the 1960s, Mats Ek’s for Sweden’s Cullberg Ballet in 1992, and David Bombana’s for the National Ballet of Canada and Richard Alston’s for Scottish National Ballet – both in 2009. John Cranko’s 1971 version was choreographed to a score by Wolfgang Fortner and Wilfried Steinbrenner.

Carmen - la danse mythique in Nice Acropolis in November 2013

Now, choreographer Nikolai Androsov has come up with Carmen – La Danse Mythique, a version which features a combination of classical ballet and Spanish character dances. Set to Bizet’s score it features Igor Yebra and Oksana Kucheruk – stars of the Opéra National de Bordeaux – and Alexander Babenko, premiere soloist of the Théâtre National Musical de Moscou and the Corps de Ballet Royal Héritage.

Androsov – described as a brilliant dancer and quirky choreographer – left Moscow’s Moiseyev Company in 1991, accompanied by a group of dancers, to create an innovative and imaginative style of dance – an avenue which he had not been allowed to pursue at the Moiseyev.

His production of Carmen – described as “pure harmony” between classical and character dance – is designed to present this work to an audience as wide and diverse as possible.

Tickets range in price from €36 to €56 and may be purchased from all the usual outlets or reserved online.

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On Tuesday, 3rd December, the Grand Ballet du Théâtre Académique de Kiev presents Tchaikovsky’s traditional Christmas ballet, Casse Noisette (The Nutcracker). Written in 1892, it was commissioned by master choreographer, Marius Petipa, and based on Alexandre Dumas’s adaptation of E.T.A. Hoffman’s tale ‘The Nutcracker and the Mouse King’.

It premiered at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg on December 17th, 1892, and even though it wasn’t well received by either critics or the audience, it grew in popularity with subsequent performances, and is now presented around the world, by numerous ballet companies, every Christmas.

This version is presented as a two-act ballet, by a company of 50 artists. It tells the familiar story of Clara who is given a nutcracker doll in the form of a soldier by the mysterious Drosselmeyer on Christmas Eve. She dreams of an invasion of rats and mice – who are swiftly disposed of by the now-human Nutcracker and his army – and of her journey with her Nutcracker Prince on a magical sleigh through the Land of Snowflakes, to the Kingdom of Sweets, where they are met by the Sugar Plum Fairy and entertained by dances from exotic lands.

Enchanting and spectacular, with some of Tchaikovsky’s most colourful music, The Nutcracker is a Christmas treat not to be missed. The performance takes place at 8pm on 3rd December. Tickets cost from €40 to €57 and, once again, are available from all the usual outlets or may be reserved online.

Swan Lake in Nice Acropolis December 2013

The final production in this season of dance at Nice Acropolis is Tchaikovsky’s, Le Lac Des Cygnes (Swan Lake). Presented again by the Grand Ballet du Théâtre Académique de Kiev, this performance takes place in the Salle Apollon on Friday, 6th December at 8pm.

Swan Lake was commissioned in 1875 by the then administrator of the Russian Imperial Theatres in Moscow, and premiered by the Bolshoi Ballet, at the Bolshoi Theatre, in 1877.

As with Nutcracker, it was deemed to be a failure. The music was considered by the conductor, dancers – and the audience, apparently – as being too difficult to dance to. In addition, the choreography by German ballet master, Julius Reisinger, was regarded as uninspiring and unoriginal.

It wasn’t until after Tchaikovsky’s death that the ballet was revived, in 1895, by the genius of choreographers Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, and first performed by the Imperial Ballet at the Mariinksy Theatre in St. Petersburg, on January 15th of that year.

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The origins of the story of Swan Lake are not entirely clear, but it’s generally accepted that it’s based on a Russian folk tale. Prince Siegfried, under pressure from his mother to find a wife, is given a crossbow as a birthday present.

He comes across a flock of swans and falls in love with the Swan Queen, Odette, who is under the curse of the wicked sorcerer, Von Rothbart, and who can only permanently revert to her human form if she receives the pledge of love from a man who is pure in heart.

At his birthday ball, Siegfried is deceived by Odile – Von Rothbart’s daughter – to whom he pledges his love. Devastated when he realises that he’s been tricked, he returns to the lake to find Odette, and the two lovers cast themselves into the water.

With its glorious score and superb choreography, Swan Lake is justifiably one of the most popular ballets in the repertoire.

Tickets for this performance range in price from €40 to €57 and are available from all the usual outlets or may be reserved online.

The Acropolis and the Tete Carrée in Nice © RIVIERA BUZZ

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