A young local dance company repackages a well-known Oriental tale and creates pure magic
Forget about all the cry-wolf talk of politics, especially leading up to the presidential elections – Millennials of whatever stripe and origin do actually get on quite well with each other. And Cyrille de Gonzalgue and Mélissa Calatayud are very representative of their generation: a walking, talking melting pot of ethnicities and cultural influences. Except for in their case, it should really read, “walking, talking, and dancing melting pot”, because what this artist couple and their “Motleey” dance group does is as novel as it is delightful: turn the time-honoured, classic story of Sheherazade into a hip-hop inspired dance musical. This has earned them standing ovations before – most recently at the Théâtre de la Cité’s Carte Blanche evening – and will again make for a sold-out house on Friday, 14 April at the Black Box in Nice.
Shéhérazade, as you remember, is the beautiful and smart protagonist who just got married to the Sultan of her Oriental country. He had been deceived by a previous lover and has been taking revenge by marrying a new bride every day, only to have her executed the next morning. It’s Shéhérazade’s turn now but she resorts to a ruse: night after night she tells the Sultan beautiful stories that leave him in suspense about their outcome every morning. He wants to hear more and spares her life for yet another day – until after 1001 nights together, he has genuinely fallen in love with her. And they lived happily ever after….
Les 1001 Vies de Shéhérazade is a show you will not easily forget. It may be its extremely high dance performance with a twist of humour. It may be the cutting edge music with a bow to traditional tunes. Or maybe it’s the flamboyant colors that resonate with you long after the curtain falls, or the juxtaposition of Oriental and contemporary themes and costumes. But whatever it is, this is one of the shows that stay in your mind both for its energy and poetry. Mélissa Calatayud and Cyrille de Gonzalgues ooze rare chemistry and magic on stage, and their company, aptly named Motleey (the way they chose to spell it), is indeed a motley crew of dancers, where everyone with talent and enthusiasm has a place. The 2017 Interdanses award is the fruit of their hard work.
Cyrille and Mélissa (pictured here on the left) are a Niçois couple in real life, proud parents of 4 year old daughter Kali, and both have solid artistic training and a commitment to hard work. Cyrille de Gonzalgue comes from a hip-hop background, having been a dancer in Sophie Cossu’s renowned company Les Farfadets in Monaco. Mélissa Calatayud studied theatre and got her Masters in 2008, but became inspired by her husband’s dance and took up hiphop as well. “Hiphop duos are actually quite rare – an element that distinguishes us from others”, Cyrille says. While Mélissa continues to work as an actress around Nice, both also teach at Arty Studio in Nice.
Les 1001 Vies de Shéhérazade is their first big joint project together as authors, directors and performers, and a project they poured a tremendous amount of research and energy into. “The story very much revolves around tolerance and respect for women – values that are important to us and that we love to share around us,” Cyrille explains. And Mélissa adds, “The story also shows that you have to keep hope that people can change for the better. It is a tale of hope in humanity.”
The couple’s commitment to contributing to society in a positive and constructive way also shone through when they volunteered to perform at the recent Nice-Berlin Solidar(t)ité charity event at Théâtre Francis Gag, where they instantly became one of the audience’s favorites.
A dance show as memorable as Les 1001 Vies de Shéhérazade is rarely – all too rarely – mounted in Nice, so do be sure to secure tickets while they last for Friday, 14 April at 20h30 at the Black Box (€7 for early reservation, €10 at the door).
Black Box (Centre AnimaNice Bon Voyage)
Pont René Coty
Tel: +33 4 92 00 75 60
All images courtesy Cyrille de Gonzalgue / Mélissa Calatayud, except lead image © Laurent Zoppis