This December, our focus falls on the Monte-Carlo Ballet, which has an impressive and eclectic line-up of productions to take dance-lovers through the festive season.

Monte-Carlo Ballet Choreographer and Director, Jean-Christophe Maillot, has drawn together an impressive programme for the month of December, which includes classical ballet, contemporary dance, hip-hop and even ice-skating, and, in addition to his own company, includes the Ballet National de Marseille, the L.E.V. Company from Israel, Le Patin Libre from Canada, and La Compagnie Danza Contemporanea de Cuba.

Almost all of the performances taking place in December – apart from two productions by the Monte-Carlo Ballet – are presented by the Monaco Dance Forum, in a series of one-night only performances, each by a different dance company, and each based on a fascinating and highly creative concept.

The Ballet National de Marseille, in conjunction with ICKamsterdam, opens this series with a work entitled Extremalism – le corps en révolte, by former dancer Emio Greco and theatre director Pieter C. Sholten. This contemporary work explores the power of the body and the limits to which it can be pushed as it reacts to extreme situations created by the crises of life today. According to a review in L’Express, “An abundance of everything, leaving the corps de ballet exposed and exhausted, flows out from the theatre and sets the audience ablaze. Extremalism to the very end.”

In Monchichi, dance duo Honji Wang and Sebastien Ramirez depict a new urban, mobile and intercultural generation. Honji’s movements reflect the suppleness and musicality of her Asian descent, contrasting with the Mediterranean vivacity of Sebastien, as they overcome the differences of their respective cultures in their shared life. “The language that bridges their differences, though, isn’t some blend of ballet and breaking,” writes The New York Times. “It’s an outgrowth of hip-hop.” Dance publication Tanz says: “It’s quite simply Tanztheater at its best, ‘living poetry’, with thoughtful images and humorous skits.”

Brussels-based dance and theatre company, Peeping Tom, presents the premiere of a work entitled Moeder, the second part of a trilogy on the family, which opened with the critically acclaimed Vader in 2014, and which closes with Kinderen in 2018. Moeder, as its name implies, focuses on the role of the mother figure in the family. In a review by Gazetta di Reggio, it’s described as “Disturbing, strong, yet strangely familiar”, and according to ARTE TV, “Oscillating between humor and nightmare, Moeder is a work of art of rare uniqueness.”

In his work entitled Deep Dish, Austrian dancer and choreographer Chris Haring, of Liquid Loft, presents the final part of his series The Perfect Garden, created in collaboration with fine artist Michel Blazy. It’s a combination of dance and film which features four dancers at a table, laden not only with fruit and vegetables, but with creatures vying with humanity to secure their place in the environment. This environment is depicted as a garden, projected onto a backdrop, against which the struggle between human behaviour and nature takes place.

In another premiere for Monte-Carlo, Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar’s L.E.V. Dance Company perform Eyal’s powerful work, OCD Love, performed to the techno-beats of DJ Ori Lichtik. Inspired by a text by Neil Hilborn – a poet suffering from Obsessive-compulsive disorder – OCD Love revolves around the theme of love that always misses, or lovers who are out of step with each other, and the challenges for both love and life which this situation throws up. The Guardian summed it up succinctly: “Six dancers move as one in Sharon Eyal’s gravely beautiful exploration of the obsessive-compulsive state.” Haaretz referred to the work as “a dance gem”.

The first of the two productions by the Monte-Carlo Ballet is a creation by Jean-Christophe Maillot entitled Aleatorio, described as a sensual soirée in which the choreographer combines his appreciation for the romantic relationship with his admiration for the body of the classical dancer, whilst acknowledging the abrasive tendencies which exist in the relationship between men and women. Noting how expertly the girls draw “the strings of sensuality”, Le Figaro declares that “This ode to woman is irresistible”.

Le Patin Libre – a contemporary ice-skating company from Montreal – presents Confidence, the true story of a group of rebellious figure skaters who’ve relinquished the glitter and stereotypical aspects of skating to prove that it can indeed be truly artistic. The company is lauded for its ability to make the most of the scenic and choreographic opportunities of skating – described as a form of “contemporary dance on ice”. BBC News has referred to Le Patin as “The best kept secret in Canada”.

In complete contrast, La Compagnie Danza Contemporanea de Cuba is set to raise the temperature with its singular style of dance which combines the basics of Cuban folklore with characteristics of contemporary techniques in three works. Julio César Iglesias’ El Cristal is described as by On Cuba as a creation which combines the “technical and interpretive brilliance” of this versatile company. According to One Dance UK, Reversible by Belgian-Colombian choreographer Annabelle López Ochoa is where “Hot Cuban passions, sass and wit all meet”, a work which “delves deep into the path of gender matters, sudden changes in relationships, the games, rivalry and pleasure of being opponents and dissidents”. George Céspedes’ MAMBO 3XXI is a rhythmic, athletic and joyful display of movement.

The Monte-Carlo Ballet’s final presentation for 2016 is a new production of Jean-Christophe Maillot’s La Belle – his contemporary interpretation of Charles Perrault’s fairy tale, The Sleeping Beauty, first developed by Maillot in 2001. This work, starring Bolshoi Ballet principals Olga Smirnova and Semyon Chudin, is a fascinating foray by the choreographer into what’s described as “the abyss of the Prince’s world of shadows” as it clashes with the brightly coloured life of Sleeping Beauty, where “the fantastical collides with the real, good opposes evil, and hate comes face to face with love”. Whilst the ballet is set to the music of Tchaikovsky, it doesn’t feature his Sleeping Beauty score in its entirety, but uses a selection of his works, included in which is his hauntingly beautiful Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture. The Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra is conducted by Nicolas Brochot.

Dates and details of the performances are as follows:

Extremalism – Ballet National de Marseille
Salle Garnier, Opéra de Monte-Carlo
10th December

Monchichi – Wang Ramirez
Théâtre des Variétés
11th December I 16h00

Moeder – Peeping Tom
Salle Prince Pierre – Grimaldi Forum
12th December

Deep Dish – Liquid Loft
Salle Garnier Opéra de Monte-Carlo
13th December

OCD Love – L E V Dance Company
Salle Prince Pierre – Grimaldi Forum
14th December

Aleatorio – La Compagnie des Ballets de Monte-Carlo
Salle Garnier, Opéra de Monte-Carlo
16th December | 20h00
17th December | 20h00 + Pre-talk with J-Ch Maillot at 18h45
18th December | 16h00 + Pre-talk with J-Ch Maillot à 14h45
Salle Garnier Opéra de Monte-Carlo

Confidences – Le Patin Libre
Monaco Skating Rink
18th December I 17h30

Danza Contemporanea de Cuba:
– El Cristal
– Reversible
– Mambo 3XXI
Salle Garnier Opéra de Monte-Carlo
20th December | 20h00
21st December | 20h00

La Belle – Monte-Carlo Ballet
Salle des Princes – Grimaldi Forum
28th December | 20h00
29th December | 20h00
30th December | 20h00
31st December | 20h00
2nd January | 20h00 + Pre-talk with J-Ch Maillot at 18h45
3rd January | 20h00 + Pre-talk with J-Ch Maillot at 18h45

For more information and tickets, visit the Monte-Carlo Ballet website.


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Lead image courtesy les Ballets de Monte-Carlo


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