A Company with a rich and diverse repertoire, Ballet Nice Méditerranée has selected a triple bill of contemporary works for its April season.
Lucinda Childs’ Oceana, Glen Tetley’s Voluntaries, and a work entitled Oktett by Uwe Scholz are the three works chosen by Ballet Nice Méditerranée for its upcoming April schedule.
One of America’s leading choreographers of modern dance, Lucinda Childs is known for what Debra Craine (Chief Dance critic of The Times) refers to as her “spatial exploration” wherein lies “the beauty of her choreography”. In The Oxford Dictionary of Dance, Crain writes further that Childs’ work “captivates the splendor of the different patterns the human body can create across a stage by basic repeated movements such as skipping or turning”.
Oceana was created by Lucinda Childs for Ballet Nice Méditerranée in 2011. Set to a score by contemporary Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov – for female vocalist, boy soprano and choir – Oceana has an atmospheric, fluid and ethereal quality to it. Everything about the choreography gives the impression of lightness, weightlessness almost, emphasized by the mesmerising swell of the ocean on the backdrop by Dominic Drillot, who also designed the costumes.
The late Glen Tetley created his ballet Voluntaries for the Stuttgart Ballet in 1973 as a tribute to South African-born choreographer John Cranko, former director of the Stuttgart company, under whose leadership the Company rose to world status, and who died prematurely at the age of only 45. Far from being a sombre work, though, Voluntaries is characterised by a dramatic and dynamic style, with a distinct sense of liveliness. Set to Poulenc’s 1938 Concerto for Organ, Strings and Timpani, it’s “a celebration of life and dance”, writes Carol Meeder in her programme notes for the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (Pittsburgh having been Tetley’s home town), and she quotes him as saying: “Voluntaries is the way I feel about dance”. Décor and costumes are by Rouben Ter-Arutunian, and lighting by John B Read.
Tetley succeeded Cranko as director of Stuttgart Ballet from 1974 to 1976, before turning to freelance choreography. According to Anna Kisselgoff – dance critic of The New York Times – his “pioneering fusion of ballet and modern dance challenged taboos and rattled purists but influenced major companies worldwide”. Amongst those for whom he choreographed works are The Royal Ballet, Austalian Dance Theatre, American Ballet Theater, Dance Theater of Harlem and National Ballet of Canada, and his ballets are also in the repertoire of companies such as San Francisco Ballet and the early Joffrey Ballet.
Uwe Scholz was a German ballet dancer, choreographer and opera director who became resident choreographer of the Stuttgart Ballet in 1980, and four years later artistic director and chief choreographer of the Zurich Ballet. After six years in Zurich, Scholz returned to Germany to help build and shape the Leipzig Ballet, where he remained until his untimely death in 2004, at the age of 46. Giovanni di Palma, principal dancer of the Company during Scholz’s directorship, and the man appointed by Scholz’s family to pass on his work to younger generations, refers to him as “a choreographic genius” whose work was defined (in the choreographer’s own words) as “landscapes of the soul”.
Oktett – which is being performed by Ballet Nice Méditerranée for the first time – was created by Scholz in 1987 for the Zurich Ballet, with sets and costumes by Karl Lagerfeld, and is set to Mendelssohn’s gorgeous String Octet, which he wrote when he was just 16. The ballet follows the four movements of the Octet – the theme running through the first and last movements depicting the interplay between the dancers. The second is a romantic pas de deux, and the third is described by di Palma as “a fine challenge” to the men, so expect to see some technical dexterity!
Ballet Nice Méditerranée presents its triple bill of contemporary works at the Nice Opera from 8th to 16th April. For further information, visit the Nice Opera website. Tickets cost from €16 to €23 and may be purchased online.
Opéra de Nice Côte d’Azur
4-6, rue Saint-François de Paule
Oceana images © Dominique Jaussein