Ballet Du Grand Théâtre De Genève, Switzerland, 2018

Tour Dates: 2nd September - 24th September, 2018

The history of ballet in Geneva dates back to the 1800’s where dancers performed with the Theatre Neuves, located on the site of the present-day Grand Théâtre de Genève.

Tour Dates
  • 2nd September - 24th September, 2018

The history of ballet in Geneva dates back to the 1800’s where dancers performed with the Theatre Neuves, located on the site of the present-day Grand Théâtre de Genève. In the early 1900’s, music educator Emile Jaques-Dalcroze, and conductor Ernest Ansermet introduced Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes to the Geneva public. The Grand Théâtre’s own corps de ballet primarily danced in ballet scenes within operas up until the 1940’s. In 1951, a fire destroyed the Grand Théâtre. During its reconstruction, the Grand Casino hosted the Paris Opera as well as Maurice Béjart’s Ballet of the 20th Century. This period was to become a turning point; a bigger vision emerged, one that embraced the plurality of 20th century dance. To honour the re-opening of the Grand Théâtre in 1962, Janine Charrat, the great French dancer, became the first Artistic Director of the Ballet du Grand Théâtre. Serge Golovine followed Charrat as Artistic Director from 1964 to 1969. Alongside his work as choreographer and dancer, Golovine was a prolific teacher. In 1969, George Balanchine, one of the great choreographers of the 20th century, became Artistic Advisor. He transformed the Geneva Balletinto a European ambassador for his New York City Ballet and appointed Alfonso Cata as Director. Cata produced Balanchine’s greatest choreographies and invited works by choreographers Antony Tudor and Todd Bolender, further strengthening the public appeal of the Ballet. In 1973, Patricia Neary, soloist with the New York City Ballet, took the reins of Director. With her departure in 1978, the Balanchine era ended. Peter van Dyk, principal dancer at the Paris Opera, directed the Ballet until 1980. Oscar Araiz, the great Argentinean choreographer, became Director in 1980. Araiz brought as expressionist style to the Company. During his eight-year tenure, the Ballet premiered more than 30 works, including Tango, Scènes de Familles and Cantares. In 1989, GradimirPankov, former Director of the National Ballet of Finland and of the Cullberg Ballet in Stockholm, became Director. He was the Company’s first director who was not a choreographer, and this opened a new chapter in its history. A new repertoire of works came to Geneva, composed by choreographers such as Jiri Kylian, Rudi Van Dantzig, Mats Ek and OhadNaharin. In 1996, François Passard and Giorgio Mancini, entrusted with the direction of the Company, continued the policy of inviting guest choreographers to Geneva.

In 2003, Philippe Cohen became Ballet Director. Since his appointment, Ken Ossola, AndonisFoniadakis, JoëlleBouvier, Michael Kelemenis, SidiLarbiCherkaoui, Emanuel Gat, Pontus Lidbergand Benjamin Millepied are some of the artists granted carte blanche. He has also enriched the repertoire with works by renowned choreographers Carolyn Carlson, Lucinda Childs and Dominique Bagouet.

Today the Geneva Ballet is composed of 22 classically trained dancers from around the world. Each season features two new productions, repertoire performances at home or on tour, school productions and educational workshops. With international tours to the USA, Australia, South America, all over Europe, South Africa, and now Asia, the Geneva Ballet continues to share its passion for the art of dance.

Ballet Director: Philippe Cohen

Born in Morocco in 1953, Philippe Cohen began his dance training in 1971 at Le Centre de Danse International Rosella Hightower. This gave him the opportunity to work with Anton Dolin, Nora Kiss, Tatiana Grantzeva, IgorYouskevitch, Sonia Arova and John Gilpin. He joined Le Ballet de Nancy directed by Gigi Caciuleanu and performed in all of the company's creations, including several by Dominique Bagouet.

This experience was invaluable. Philippe followed the choreographer until 1982, when he accompanied Bagouet as an artist, professor and assistant notably in the production of Les Voyageurs performed by L`Opéra de Paris. It was here that Philippe explored different contemporary dance techniques including Peter Goss, Susan Buirge and Alwin Nikolais. After being recognized French Ministry of Culture for his work, Philippe left for the United States to follow the teachings of Merce Cunningham and the School of American Ballet.

In 1983, Rosella Hightower invited him to become the Ballet Master for Le Jeune Ballet de France, where he was responsible for the company's classical repertoire, including La Sylphide, Napoli, The Sleeping Beauty, and Giselle, and choreographed works by Maurice Béjart, John Neumier, Serge Lifar and George Balanchine. He also oversaw contemporary works by Carolyn Carlson,Daniel Larrieu, Claude Brumachon, Joelle Bouvier and Régis Obadia, Larrio Ekson, Régine Chopinot and Philippe Decouflé. From 1988 to 1990, Philippe was the study coordinator for Le Centre National de Danse Contemporaine in Angers, and worked with Michelle Anne de Mey, Hervé Robbe, Wim Vandekeybus and Trisha Brown. Philippe was named director of chorographical studies for Le Conservatoire National Supérieurde Musiqueet de Danse de Lyon in 1990, a position he occupied until 2003. There, he developed an international political exchange which was conducted in Vietnam, Cambodia, China, South Korea, Honk Kong, Thailand, Belarus, Germany, England, Georgia and Canada. Since 2003, Philippe has directed Le Ballet du Grand Theâtre de Genève. He was distinguished by the French Ministry of Culture and awarded its Arts and Letters Officers Medal. The Vietnam government also honored him for service rendered in the development of Vietnamese culture.

Program: Roméo Et Juliette

Romeo and Juliet, a story of love stifled by hate. A family devastated by the violence of two enemy clans, ruthless rivals with no other reason for their bloody feud than that they belonged to two distinct families. How many wars in the world today reflect the tragedy of Shakespeare?

This is why I chose not to situate my story in a precise time. For the scenery and costumes, we will remain timeless, because this story takes place, has taken place and has yet to take place everywhere. I do not wish to follow the argument of Shakespeare's play to the smallest detail, but to concentrate on the essential canvas of the lovers story in Verona and the fundamental situations - four distinct characters are enough to set the scene, while the whole company gives its collective dimension to this tragic family story.

Our creation originates from several different encounters. Firstly, the encounter with the intensely beautiful music from Prokofiev and this wonderful new experience of working with an orchestra. Also, importantly, the encounter with the dancers from Le Ballet de Genève. Together, we unite our bodies into the gentleness and fury of this music, we let ourselves be inspired by the rhythm, it’s poetic nature to compose body movements, lifts, motions and fractures. All describe the passionate adventure of two lovers.

At the moment of writing this text, we are still in full creation, we are searching, we are building, we are doubting, we are advancing towards the encounter with this ballet, which I hope will seduce and move you as if it were the first time.

Program: Carmina Burana

With CarminaBurana, Claude Brumachon brings to the stage the 22 dancers of the Geneva Ballet to offer an unusual and undeniably committed version of this enactment of the cantata signed Carl Orff. We detect immediately the choreographer’s hallmark, his quest for the absolute, truth just as much as beauty, in the search for the right gesture and aesthetics in the purest form, with an incredibly expressive virtuosity.

His language is that of bodies. His material? Man and the world in which he evolves. And what he retains from the work, made famous by its opening choir O Fortuna, repeated at the end as if to symbolise the perpetual return, are the major metaphysical questions that it depicts and their immediate usefulness noted the choreographer.

"CarminaBurana is a very special work that we approached a little nervously. I managed to get away from this feeling by listening to it in places of overwhelming beauty in Death Valley or the mountains of the Pyrenees, letting myself be invaded by the strong sensation of nature. I have used "words" rather than narration, words which generated in me an energy and sensation that I sought to transmit through the dancers’ bodies. The opening scene reminds me of the work of Théodore Géricault, Le Radeau de La Méduse (The Raft of the Medusa), which crawls between sky and sea, once good fortune is lost. This opening scene sings of the fickleness of Fortune, existence associated with despair, the power that escapes kings, the downfall.In this composition, I respected the framework wished by the composer, the 25 scenes subdivided into 3 main parts: Spring, At the Tavern and the Courting. We can say that broadly they depict, sometimes with cynicism, the history of Humanity: religion, love, life, power that disappears, the pleasures of the table and gambling…

The scenes suggest successively the passions, as well as anger, with this trio of tormented, impatient, impassioned, excited and tumultuous boys. The tavern episodes are also very powerful, since they deal with drink and drunkenness. This dance is introduced by three women with the appearance of rockers, finely worked by the costume designers. The gestures, movements, become distorted, cloying, due to the clumsiness caused by the effects of alcohol and provoke loss of balance. The man is constantly about to fall, but finally he manages instinctively to keep his balance. There then follows the bewitching dances of the bacchantes, which stretch the magic and letting-go through to dawn. Then the work closes with the return of the O Fortuna choir and the ritual dance of the goddesses.

CarminaBurana is an ambivalent piece. Both black and solar, the work touches upon human tragedy and loss, but at the same time, through the caring presence of the goddesses, makes hope, beauty and a possible harmony break through. By evoking Universal History, it undeniably encourages the reinterpretation of the events of our current period and also incites questioning of the complexity of art’s relationship with time.

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