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Les Biches

This one act ballet was created on 6 January 1924 yt he Ballets-Russes at the Monte-Carlo Opera, in choreography by Brnoislava Nijinska and sets and costumes by Marie Laurencin. Without any particular plot, the ballet showed a few sophisticated young ladies and three young men parading in a vast sun drenched white room, as an exercise in distinguished and light-hearted gallantries. Among ther performers one could see Vera Nemtchinova in the roleof the beautiful stranger, Bronislava Nijinska as the hostess, and two young girls enjoying a balmy May evening.

In 1923, nothing could please Francis Poulenc, a great admirer of Ballets Russes, more than this commission from Diaghilev, who suggested writing a ballet with atmosphere, a sort of moderne Sylphides. To quote the composer « I thought of tese gallant frolics in which one couldeither see nothing or imagine the worst, as in some paintings by Watteau ».

Les Biches are the ballet of pleasure : the pleasure to retrieve a never-ending childhood. A rumbustious hurly-hurly « mad extravagance at the edge of the abyss » according to Maurice Sachs. For, unknown to them, the « années folles » were dancing on a volcano.

This historical context, Diaghilevs initial wishes, and the ballet by Nijinska, were the basis of my interpretation. But in the end, the decisive trigger was an element of the costumes by Marie Laurencin. Les Biches are adornet with feathers, like birds of paradise. With such a detail I could establish a link Diaghilevs suggestion to Poulenc, since white feathers are part of the wings of the Sylphides. The vast white room could then be filled with a sky where heavenly creatures could move about. A beautiful stranger, the hostess, and two young girls enjoying a balmy evening in May will appear through the gates of this paradise, in the original choreography by Bronislava Nijinska, as if surging from the past.

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/

Flores, Georges

Georges Flores began his career in 1982. He is responsible for the editing and post-production of numerous works of video art broadcast on French channels. Some of his earliest work was recording shows: between 1988 and 1992, he covered the entire International Festival for Innovations in Music Production and Composition, several parts of which, in the form of reports, were broadcast on ARTE channel on the programme Mégamix. He regularly produces recordings for current music. This experience has also led him to work in opera and classical music, producing recordings of many great works. He also provided the video coverage for the Massenet Festival. Dance is another of Flores’ favourite areas. He has worked with Thierry Malandain, director of the National Choreographic Centre – Malandain Ballet Biarritz since 1992. The documentary Voyage (Travel), produced in 1996 during a tour in Morocco, in collaboration with the French Cultural Institute and with the ground-breaking participation of Antoine Livio and of Yvette Chauviré, introduces us to the character and creations of the choreographer and demonstrates Flores’ links to choreography. He also regularly works with other contemporary choreographers who create unique artistic worlds. Flores has also produced a great deal of images used in set designs for music, dance and opera. His first piece of international work saw him take part in the season opening of the Teatro Massimo in Palermo in January 1993, as part of a new production of Esclarmonde by Massenet, directed by Giannandrea Gavazzeni. Alongside this work on live shows, he creates documentaries for non-specialist audiences in the field of Scientific, Technical and Industrial Culture (CSTI), aimed at the education sector. Today, Flores dedicates his time to producing and creating projects that are important to him, as well as faithful collaborations for television or renowned arts organisations. His portfolio now includes the recordings of over fifty great lyrical works.


Source : Georges Flores

Les Biches

Artistic direction / Conception : Thierry Malandain

Choreography : Thierry Malandain, Bronislava Nijinska (avec l'aimable autorisation de Nathalie et George Raetz)

Interpretation : Malandain Ballet Biarritz

Original music : Francis Poulenc

Lights : Jean-Claude Asquié

Costumes : Jorge Gallardo

Settings : Jorge Gallardo

Duration : 34 minutes

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