DANCE INVERSIONInternational Contemporary Dance Festival
Jean-Christophe Maillot Biography
Rosella Hightower liked to say of her student Jean-Christophe Maillot, that his life was just a union of opposites. In fact, for the current Choreographer-Director of the Ballets de Monte-Carlo, dance combines with theatre, enters the ring under a big top, evolves into the arena of visual arts, is fuelled by the most diverse scores and explores different forms of literature... His repertoire of 80 ballets (40 created in Monaco) draws from the world of art in the broadest sense and each ballet is a sketch book which feeds the following work. Thus, over 30 years, Jean-Christophe Maillot has created an ensemble of sixty pieces ranging from great narrative ballets to shorter formats, and where multiple connections reflect a work which forms part of the history and diversity. Neither classical nor contemporary, not even between the two, Jean-Christophe Maillot refuses to adhere to one style and designs dance like a dialogue where tradition on pointes and the avant-garde are no longer mutually exclusive.
Born in 1960, Jean-Christophe Maillot studied dance and piano at the Conservatoire National de Région de Tours, before joining the Rosella Hightower International School of Dance in Cannes until winning the Prix de Lausanne in 1977. He was then hired by John Neumeier at the Hamburg Ballet, where he danced in principal roles as a soloist for five years. An accident brought his dancing career to an abrupt end.
In 1983, he was appointed choreographer and director of the Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Tours, which later became a National Centre of Choreography. He created around twenty ballets for this company and in 1985, founded the Dance Festival, "Le Chorégraphique". In 1987, he created Le Mandarin Merveilleux for the Ballets de Monte-Carlo, which was a great success. He became the company's Artistic Advisor for the 1992-1993 season and was then appointed Director-Choreographer by H.R.H. the Princess of Hanover in September 1993.
His arrival at the Ballets de Monte-Carlo set the company on a new path that quickly developed the level of maturity and excellence for which this company of 50 dancers has been renowned for 20 years. He has created almost 40 ballets for the company, some of which, such as Vers un pays sage (1995), Romeo and Juliet (1996), Cinderella (1999) La Belle (2001), Le Songe (2005), Altro Canto (2006), Faust (2007), LAC (2011), CHORE (2013) and Casse-Noisette Compagnie (2013) have forged the reputation of the Ballets de Monte-Carlo across the world. Several of these works are now included in the repertoires of major international ballet companies, such as the Grands Ballets Canadiens, the Royal Swedish Ballet, the Korean National Ballet, the Stuttgart Ballet, the Royal Danish Ballet, the Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève, the Pacific Northwest Ballet, the American Ballet Theatre and the Béjart Ballet Lausanne. In 2014, he creates La Mégère Apprivoisée for the Ballet of Bolshoi Theatre.
Also aware of the work of other artists, Jean-Christophe Maillot is known for his spirit of openness and his commitment to inviting choreographers with a different style to create for the company. In 2000, this same desire to present the choreographic art in all its many forms led him to create the Monaco Dance Forum, an international showcase for dance which presents an eclectic proliferation of shows, exhibitions, workshops and conferences.
In 2007, he produced his first stage opera, Faust for the Hessisches Staatstheater and in 2009 Norma for the Monte-Carlo Opera. In 2007, he created his first choreographic film with Cinderella then Le Songe in 2008. In 2009, he developed the content and coordinated the Centenary of the Ballets Russes in Monaco, which would see over 50 companies and choreographers pass through the Principality in one year, providing entertainment for 60,000 audience members. In 2011, dance in Monaco underwent a major and historical change. Under the presidency of H.R.H. the Princess of Hanover, the Ballets de Monte-Carlo now incorporates the Ballets de Monte-Carlo Company, the Monaco Dance Forum and the Princess Grace Academy under a single organisation. Jean-Christophe Maillot was appointed head of this organisation which now unites the excellence of an international company, the benefits of a multi-format festival and the potential of a high-level school.
Jean-Christophe Maillot is Commander in the Ordre du Mérite Culturel of the Principality of Monaco, Commander of the Ordre des Arts et Lettres and Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur in France. On 17th November 2005, he was appointed Chevalier of the Ordre de Saint Charles by H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco. In 2008, in Moscow, he received the Prix Benois de la Danse for the Best Choreographer along with the "Premio Dansa Valencia 2010". En 2015, he won with La Mégère Apprivoisée three Golden Mask including best performance.
THE AnCHORing OF DANCE IN MONACO: RUSSIAN BALLET
1909 marks the beginning of a strong presence of choreographic art in Monaco. Serge de Diaghilev presents his Russian Ballet in Paris for the first time. They set up in Monte-Carlo which becomes their creative workshop for the next two decades. Since the Principality, Diaghilev has reformed ballet in his time in all its forms. Upon his death in 1929, the company was dissolved. Several personalities and choreographers revived it under various names but it disappeared completely in 1951.
THE BIRTH OF THE CURRENT MONTE-CARLO BALLET COMPANY
In 1985, the Monte-Carlo Ballet Company was born thanks to the want of H.R.H. the Princess of Hanover, who wanted to enrol in this dance tradition in Monaco. The new company was directed by Ghislaine Thesmar and Pierre Lacotte, then by Jean-Yves Esquerre.
THE RAPID EXPANSION OF THE COMPANY
In 1993, H.R.H. the Princess of Hanover nominates Jean-Christophe Maillot as the head of the Monte-Carlo Ballets. Backed by experience as a dancer from Rosella Hightower and John Neumeier, and choreographer-director of the National Choreographic Centre of Tours, Jean-Christophe Maillot takes his turn in the company. He creates more than 30 ballets for her, including several which enter the repertoire of large international companies. The Monte-Carlo Ballets are now in demand throughout the world thanks to the iconic works of Jean-Christophe Maillot such as Vers un pays sage (1995), Roméo et Juliette (1996), Cendrillon (1999) La Belle (2001), Le Songe (2005), Altro Canto (2006), Faust (2007) and LAC (2011).
Furthermore, Jean-Christophe Maillot also enriches the company’s repertoire by inviting the major choreographers of our time but also enabling emerging choreographers to work with this exceptional tool, which are the 50 dancers of the Monte-Carlo Ballets. Among these guest choreographers are Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Shen Wei, Alonzo King, Emio Greco, Chris Haring, Marco Goecke, Lucinda Childs, William Forsythe, Jiri Kylian, Karole Armitage, Maurice Béjart and even Marie Chouinard.
In 2000, Jean-Christophe creates the Monaco Dance Forum, international window to dance that presents an eclectic fusion of spectacles, exhibitions, workshops and conferences. The company regularly participates in this festival and the Académie Princesse Grace.
THE FUTURE OF MONTE-CARLO BALLET
In 2011, under the chairmanship of H.R.H. the Princess of Hanover, a new structure directed by Jean-Christophe Maillot reunites these three institutions: The Monte-Carlo Ballets currently concentrates on the excellence of an international company, the assets of a diverse festival and the potential for a school of a high level. Creation, training and production are currently reunited in Monaco to serve choreography in an unprecedented manner in the world of dance.
photos by Alice Blangero - with Liisa Hamalainen & Alexis Oliveira