Pierre Lacotte
Choreographer

Season 21/22 Artist
© DR

Pierre Lacotte was born in 1932 and trained at the Paris Opera Ballet School most notably, under the guidance of Gustave Ricaux. At the same time, he also took private classes with Lubov Egorova and Carlotta Zambelli. After joining the Corps de ballet in 1946, he was selected by Serge Lifar to be the soloist in Septuor alongside Claude Bessy. Promoted to the rank of Premier Danseur in 1951, he performed the works of the repertoire, often finding himself partnered with Yvette Chauviré, Lycette Darsonval and Christiane Vaussard. In 1954, one of his first choreographic works, La Nuit est une sorcière (The Night is a Sorceress) set to music by Sydney Bechet, won an award from Belgian Television which spurred him to leave the Paris Opera in order to give free rein to his creativity as a choreographer. In 1955, he founded his own company, Les Ballets de la Tour Eiffel which performed at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées (his works there included Solstices – with music by Daniel Wayenberg, Gosse de Paris – with music by Charles Aznavour, and Concertino – with music by Vivaldi). At the same time he continued to pursue a career as a performer. He was invited to dance at New York’s Metropolitan Opera with Melissa Hayden; he also made guest appearances in London and partnered with Violette Verdy in the Benelux countries, West Germany and Switzerland. He was sought by numerous Festivals, several of which commissioned ballets from him including Such Sweet Thunder (Duke Ellington) in Berlin (1959), the choreography for Hippolyte et Aricie (Rameau) at the Festival du Marais (1960), and Il Combattimento di Tancredi (Monteverdi) for the Aix Festival (1961). In 1963, he became the director of the Ballets des Jeunesses Musicales de France during which time he created numerous works, including Bifurcations, Hamlet, Penthésilée, and la Voix (in collaboration with Édith Piaf). In 1968, while he was writing a book on romantic ballet he stumbled upon some documents pertaining to Philippe Taglioni’s 1832 production of La Sylphide which enabled him to restage the work. Initially produced for television (in 1971), La Sylphide was ultimately performed on stage, after the Paris Opera asked the choreographer to present the work at the Palais Garnier. The première took place on June 9, 1972 with Ghislaine Thesmar and Michaël Denard who had originally danced the lead roles in 1971. Pierre Lacotte went on to restage La Sylphide in Tokyo, Buenos Aires, Prague, New York, Monte Carlo, Novosibirsk, Rome, Helsinki, Rio de Janeiro and more recently, at Milan’s La Scala (2005) and the Canton Ballet (2007). Henceforth hailed as the “specialist” when it came to reconstituting works from the romantic repertoire, he restaged Coppélia and revived the pas de six from La Vivandière (Arthur Saint-Léon), together with the pas de deux from Papillon (Marie Taglioni’s sole choreographic work) for the Paris Opera and the Kirov Ballet in Saint Petersburg. He also revived Philippe Taglioni’s La Fille du Danube for the Théâtre Colón in Buenos Aires; Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot’s Giselle (with sets and costumes based on the original production of 1841) for the Ballet du Rhin, the Ballets de Monte Carlo and the Ballet National de Nancy; Nathalie ou la laitière suisse (Taglioni) for Ekaterina Maximova and the Classical Ballet of Moscow (1980); Marco Spada, after Joseph Mazilier, for Rudolf Nureyev at the Rome Opera in 1981 and the Paris Opera in 1984; La Gitana (Taglioni) at the Warsaw Ballet (1993); L’Ombre (Taglioni) at the Ballet National de Nancy (1993); Le Lac des fées (Taglioni) at the Berlin Staatsoper (1995); Swan Lake (Petipa and Ivanov) in Nancy (1998), La Fille du Pharaon (Petipa) at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow (2000), The Nutcracker (Petipa and Ivanov) at the Athens Opera (2000) and Paquita (Mazilier and Petipa) at the Paris Opera (2001). In 2002, he restaged his own version of Coppélia for the Shanghai Ballet. In 2006, at the invitation of the Mariinsky Theatre, he presented a new production of the Jules Perrot ballet Ondine. That same year, he went on to create a new choreographic version of La fille du Danube for the Tokyo Ballet. In addition, he also restaged the works of Mikhail Fokine: the Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor for the Ballets de Monte-Carlo (1986), Firebird for the Paris Opera Ballet School (in 1991 and 2000) and Le Spectre de la rose for the Paris Opera (1997). In 1985, after having taught at both the Conservatoire National Supérieur and the Paris Opera, Pierre Lacotte together with Ghislaine Thesmar became co-director of the new Ballets Monte Carlo. (Whilst there, he created a choreographic work based on Georges Bizet’s Te Deum and a ballet based on Stefan Zweig’s 24 Hours in the Life of a Woman set to music by Hervé Niquet). He would leave the company in 1988 to join the Verona Opera Ballet. From 1991 to 1999 he was the artistic director of the Ballet National de Nancy et de Lorraine. A Commandeur des Arts et Lettres, he is the co-author (with Jean-Pierre Pastori) of the book Tradition (Éditions Favre, 1987).

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