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Casse Noisette (2003)

En 1997, when I was asked to present The Nutcracker, I thought it would be tricky to show this work with 12 dancers, when it had been conceived for a much larger nomber of dancers. Then I thought that since everything became possible in that tale for children, after the clock struck twelve, why should that time not also help the dream of older children ? So, I accepted, but I needed more to approach that project. A little before that, I had discovered the « rebirthing », a respiratory method which ensures your well-being after a great number of contradictory feelings. In the course of that « renaissance », from anguish to paradisiac visions, anything may happen as is the case in tales. The Nutcracker was staged as a result of that experience. It gives meaning to Drosselmeyer's acts. They guide Marie's spirit through his inspiration towards the land of dreams at the same time as her body is shaken by strange convulsions.

Thierry Malandain

Malandain, Thierry

Born on the 13th April 1959 in Petit-Quevilly, Thierry Malandain followed the usual path of a classical dancer but with a strong taste for the unconventional and an unusual tenacity. Violette Verdy, who chaired the Prix de Lausanne at which Thierry Malandain competed in 1978, hired him to join the Paris Opera Ballet for the season 1977-1978. There, he met Jean Sarelli, who was then "The" ballet master, and followed him when Sarelli took over the direction of the Ballet du Rhin. Thierry Malandain stayed in Mulhouse until 1980 and then joined the Ballet Théâtre Français de Nancy, directed by Hélène Traïline and Jean-Albert Cartier, until 1986. He successfully made his first experiences as a choreographer during the six years he stayed in Lorraine. In 1984, he won the 1st Prize of the Volinine competition with Quatuor op3, to a score by Guillaume Lekeu. In 1985 and 1986, he succeeded Maguy Marin as winner of the 1st Prize of Nyon choreographic competition in Switzerland with Sonatine, to a score by Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Métamorphosis, to the music of Benjamin Britten. 

In 1986, Thierry Malandain made a bet. He left the Ballet Théâtre Français de Nancy with eight dancers and set up the Compagnie Temps Présent in Elancourt (78), in the suburbs of Paris. He deliberately chose to get off the beaten track and undertake a mammoth task. The following season, he was awarded by the Fondation de la Vocation and the Fondation Oulmont and won the 1st Prize of La Baule choreographic competition, the 1st Prize of Vaison-la-Romaine choreographic competition and the Prix de la Nuit des Jeunes Créateurs in Paris with Angelin Preljocaj and Claude Brumachon. Thierry Malandain began to make himself known as a promising young talent thanks to several works: ­­L'Homme aux semelles de vent (1986), created to the music of Benjamin Britten and staged again under the title Les Illuminations (1989) for the dancer Patrick Dupond and the Ballet National de Nancy, Edgar Allan Poe (1988), to scores by Claude Debussy and André Caplet, and especially Folksongs (1986), choreographed to the music of Benjamin Britten and performed by several companies, including the Ballet de Tours of Jean-Christophe Maillot. As people only talked about the “jeune danse française” in 1988, Thierry Malandain, like his colleagues, contributed to the development of dance in the suburbs while proclaiming his attachment to the vocabulary of classical dance. He even created ballets for opera house companies, such as Danses qu'on croise (1987), choreographed to the music of Johannes Brahms for the Ballet de l'Opéra de Nantes. His unique positioning was confusing for the French choreographic community but not for the international audience. On the contrary, people, especially in Belgium, started to talk about the French choreographer who achieved the feat of creating Les Sylphides, to the music of Frédéric Chopin for the Ballet royal de Wallonie, and Petite Lune, to a score by Dmitri Shostakovitch for the Royal Ballet of Flanders, in the same year (1990).

In 1991, Thierry Malandain created Pulcinella by Igor Stravinsky on the stage of the previously called Maison de la Culture in Saint-Etienne. At this time, the director Jean-Louis Pichon was trying to turn the institution into an Opera Theatre—named L’Esplanade in 1994. He needed a choreographer who would be sensitive to music and able to have a strong presence on the ground. He invited the Compagnie Temps Présent for a residence in Saint-Etienne. This event marked the beginning of a collaboration that lasted six years.

In 1997, the French Ministry of Culture and Communication and the City of Biarritz offered Thierry Malandain to set up the first classical Centre Chorégraphique Contemporain in the Basque coastal resort of Biarritz. It happened so fast that the Centre Chorégraphique National - Ballet Biarritz opened in September 1998 in the Gare du Midi, a large building abandoned by trains and whose two big square towers overlook Biarritz pleasant gardens.

In 2003, Ballet Biarritz took a major creative step with Les Créatures, choreographed to the music of Ludwig van Beethoven. This powerful, graphic and ambitious work engendered a feeling of maturity and poise that earned the Ballet greater recognition. For the first time in its history, the troupe officially performed in Paris (Théâtre national de Chaillot) thanks to Dominique Hervieu and José Montalvo, while Les Créatures were nominated at the Benois de la Danse in Moscow and received the Critics Prize at the 19th International Ballet Festival of Havana in Cuba. In 2004, Le Sang des Etoiles confirmed the company’s success. The CCN then became one of the most productive choreographic centres, with the biggest number of performances per year and a strong international presence. The institution also grew in strength. 

In August 2009, Thierry Malandain was made an “officier” in the Order of Arts and Letters. The new name of the company, "Malandain Ballet Biarritz", heralded a new era for the choreographer. Two new creations followed: Magifique (2009), to the music of Piotr Illitch Tchaikovsky and Roméo et Juliette (2010) by Hector Berlioz. Both found favour with audiences and critics. For the second time of his career, Thierry Malandain collaborated with a composer, Guillaume Connesson, resulting in the ballet Lucifer (2011). The score was interpreted by the Orchestre de Pau Pays de Béarn, conducted by Fayçal Karoui, who is also the musical director of the New York City Ballet. 

In 2013, as Malandain Ballet Biarritz gave more than hundred performances per year, Thierry Malandain created Cendrillon to the music of Sergei Prokofiev to the request of Laurent Bruenner, the director of the Opéra royal de Versailles. The performances of this ballet were given on the wonderful stage of the Royal Opera of the Palace of Versailles with the accompaniment of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Euskadi from Donostia-San Sebastián, conducted by Josep Caballé-Domenech. A triumph of humanity, Cendrillon was unanimously acclaimed by the press and audiences. In 2014, Thierry Malandain was named “Best Choreographer” at the Taglioni European Ballet Awards, organised by the Malakhov Foundation in Berlin.


Source : Malandain Ballet’s website


More on : http://malandainballet.com/

Casse Noisette

Artistic direction / Conception : Thierry Malandain

Interpretation : Malandain Ballet Biarritz

Original music : Piotr Ilitch Tchaïkovski

Lights : Jean-Claude Asquié

Settings : Jorge Gallardo

Production / Coproduction of the choreographic work : Esplanade de Saint-Etienne, Teatro de Madrid, Les Amis de Malandain Ballet Biarritz, Malandain Ballet Biarritz

Duration : 80 minutes

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