Jerome Robbins, Gene Kelly and Jean-Christophe Maillot – three diverse and well-known choreographic names to conjure with, and three masters of their art whose creations will be performed on the Riviera this Christmas.

Ballet Nice Méditerranée features an upbeat double bill of works by Robbins and Kelly – En Sol and Pas de Dieux – and Monte-Carlo Ballet presents Coppél-i.A – the World Premiere of Maillot’s interpretation of one of ballet’s best-loved works.

Jerome Robbins’ En Sol is the opening work of the Ballet Nice production. Regarded as the most successful American-born choreographer of his time, Jerome Robbins was unique in that he achieved equal acclaim for his contribution to the world of ballet – his greatest love – as to that of Broadway. Credited for having introduced Broadway to ballet and ballet to Broadway, he was as well known for works such as Dances at a Gathering, In the Night, Afternoon of a Faun, and The Concert as he was for shows like On the Town, West Side Story, Gypsy and Fiddler on the Roof.

En Sol is set to the gorgeous Piano Concerto in G by Ravel, and was originally named after that work – Concerto in G. In France it became known simply as En Sol, and to this day is still known by that title. Robbins choreographed it for New York City Ballet’s Ravel Festival, held in the spring of 1975 to mark the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth. Set at the seaside, the ballet has first and third movements which depict fun, happy-go-lucky young people – a bit Broadway in style. The adagio is an elegant, romantic and beautiful pas de deux – eloquently demonstrating Robbin’s enviable versatility with the medium of dance.

Gene Kelly, probably best known as a singer and dancer, had a number of other skills to his credit – he was a film, stage, and television actor, a film director, producer and screenwriter, as well as a comedian and choreographer – and it’s his choreography that features in the Ballet Nice presentation Pas de Dieux, remounted for the Company by Claude Bessy.

An ardent Francophile, and fluent in French, Kelly was invited in 1960, by the general administrator of Paris Opera, A M Julien, to choreograph a modern ballet for the company, the first time an American had received such an assignment. Kelly created the ballet for Claude Bessy, then an étoile at the Paris Opera Ballet, turning to Greek mythology for the subject of his work, and setting it to the music of George Gershwin. Using all three movements of Gershwin’s fabulous Concerto in F, Kelly devised a work which mixes classical ballet with that of musical comedy-style jazz, for which he was recognised as a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour by the French Government.

The highly imaginative fantasy that is Pas de Dieux tells of an interlude during the descent to earth by the goddess Aphrodite and the winged godling Eros. Landing on a beach, Aphrodite seduces a lifeguard, and Eros makes a play for the lifeguard’s fiancée, and while both couples are immersed in the pleasure of their new-found love, Zeus arrives on the scene. The action moves to a bedroom and then to a city-centre bar – which gives the Company’s Artistic Director Éric Vu-An a marvellous opportunity to show his jazz credentials, dancing the role of a seedy gangster. Zeus takes his fickle wife and Eros back to Mount Olympus, and life on the beach returns to normal.

Léonard Ganvert leads the Nice Philharmonic Orchestra, with Italian pianist Roberto Galfione as the guest artist, in this presentation of En Sol and Pas de Dieux, which runs at Nice Opera for seven performances from 21st to 31st December.

For more information and tickets, call 04 92 17 40 79 or visit the Nice Opera website.

Monte-Carlo Ballet’s presentation for the month of December features the highlight of its choreographic season – the World Premiere of Jean-Christophe Maillot’s Coppél-i.A. Marking his return to large-scale narrative, Maillot revisits the Romantic era of ballet, and a work originally choreographed by Arthur Saint-Léon – Coppélia – but in a re-imagination which is very much of today.

This interpretation of the ballet is based on the concept of artificial intelligence and the quest to find the perfect partner in a technologically advanced society. Dr Coppélius and the artificial ‘doll’ which he created in his desire to design the perfect being, are still at the centre of the narrative, but this artificial creature, in questioning the relationships and emotions that connect us, challenges what the two young lovers of the story believe they know about love.

Composer Bertrand Maillot (brother of the Choreographer/Director of the Company) has written a number of scores for theatrical productions, and for Monte-Carlo Ballet, as well as scores and soundtracks for films and documentaries. For Coppél-i.A he was required to provide music which “put the characters’ emotions into perspective …. as with film music which supports the actors and the storyline”. The composer, using Delibes’ music as a basis, has created an original score, combining various sequences of his own, as well as carrying out “sonic manipulations” on the Delibes score.

The décor and costumes for this production are by Aimée Moreni, lighting by Jean-Christophe Maillot and Samuel Thery, and dramaturgy by Jean-Christophe Maillot and Geoffroy Staquet.

Coppél-i.A is presented by the Monte-Carlo Ballet at the Salle des Princes, Grimaldi Forum, in Monaco in nine performances, from 27th December 2019 to 5th January 2020. Tickets may be reserved as follows:
By telephone:
Grimaldi Forum : 00377 99 99 30 00 (Tuesday – Saturday 12h00 to 19h00)
Atrium du Casino de Monte-Carlo : 00 377 98 06 28 28 (Tuesday to Saturday 10h00 to 17h30)
At the Grimaldi Forum, 10 avenue Princesse Grace, Monaco (Tuesday to Saturday 12h00 to 19h00)
Atrium of the Casino de Monte-Carlo, Place du Casino (Tuesday to Saturday 10hoo to 17h30)
Via the internet:, and Carrefour

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Lead image courtesy Ballet de Nice Côte d’Azur and © DOMINIQUE JAUSSEIN

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