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Béjart celebrates Maurice, Lausanne, December 2016

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1987 saw the creation of Béjart Ballet Lausanne, 2007 the death of Maurice Béjart. The current programme “Béjart fête Maurice” honours the double anniversary; I saw the double bill on Saturday evening.

Part 1 is a new piece with the title t’M et Variations, choreographed by Gil Roman. It is inspired by the many letters that Maurice Béjart wrote to Roman during his lifetime, and Roman’s choreography is seen as a response to these letters through dance. It celebrates dance, and it is, to quote from the programme book, a “declaration of love to Maurice Béjart and to life”. Roman explains the piece as “the heritage provided by Maurice as I see it and as it continues to live …”. There is no explanation given in the programme book as to what “t’M” stands for; I’ve been reading this in terms of “t’aime”, “t’aime, Maurice” or “toi, Maurice”. t’M et Variations shows dancers in the studio and in their interaction with others through a series of PDD/ pas de trois, a solo and a few group elements. Performed to a marvellous mix of percussion live on stage by Thierry Hochstaetter and jB Meier (and using a lot more than just drums) and music on tape by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, dancers wear smart colour-coordinated practice clothing. Dancers react in amazement at a colleague’s arabesque. A dancer takes a bow at the audience’s applause which is played on tape. In a solo, Elisabet Ros is unhappy with her dancing on pointe, takes off the shoes, puts them on her hands as if they were gloves, and uses her hands to practice the virtuosity that she was unable to achieve with her feet. Another part shows a relationship triangle between a woman and two men. Etc etc. The part that I enjoyed most was a duet to string and guitar music on tape by Gabriel Arenas Ruiz and Vito Pansini, walking casually next to each other, almost holding hands, moving to a PDD, and in the end splitting up.

If the first part was looking into the future, the second part “Béjart fête Maurice“ was showing where the company has come from. Sitting in a corner of the stage, Gil Roman read a text about the barre, the mirror and the floor as part of a dancer’s daily routine while various dancers came on stage to do basic exercises at the barre. What then followed were ten short extracts that Roman chose from the many works that Béjart had created. Most of them were from works that I hadn’t even heard of previously – 1789… et nous, Heliogabale, Wien Wien nur Du allein, Light, Patrice Chéreau, Dibouk, Hamlet, Rossiniana, Bhakti. Using music from different corners of the world, making references to theatre and historical figures across the centuries, and using a vast range of choreographic styles. The last part was particularly moving as the dancers who performed an extract from 1789… et nous were joined one by one by the dancers of the other pieces, all still in their respective costumes. They then all performed signature movements from their own pieces until the whole company, and including Gil Roman, was united on stage, and the barre that featured at the beginning of the piece was carried back on stage so as to complete the circle.

The audience was ecstatic. Many loud and admiring shouts of bravo. Rhythmic clapping. Standing ovation across the stalls. The woman next to me was very much at the shrieking end of shouting (and I don’t mean this in a negative way).

I had bought the ticket when the details of the programme had not been confirmed yet, and I was a little disappointed initially when I realised that I wouldn’t be seeing any of Béjart’s trademark pieces. It turns out that the evening was an eye opener for me. It highlighted the breadth of topics covered and choreographic styles used by Béjart. What struck me with regards to many dancers of the company was the intensity of their glances, their eyes. The one dancer, however, who positively stunned me on Saturday evening with his intensity and expressiveness was Julien Favreau. Based on what I’ve been watching on the web since, I guess next time I’ll be at the shrieking end of shouting, too.



edited for typo

Edited by Duck
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