"As long as dance is considered as a rite,
both sacred and human, it will fulfil its function". Taken from Maurice
Béjart’s Mémoires, this description
of dance is a perfect illustration of Melody, the mythical role of the soloist
in Bolero. Drawing inspiration from
numerous sources, Maurice Béjart associated Hindu and African gestures with
those of strip-tease. The choreography's apparent simplicity serves as a
mirror, revealing the personality of the dancer. Since the ballet entered the
repertoire in 1970, very few performers have had the opportunity to dance on
the famous red table. Encounter with Mathias Heymann, who will be joining the
circle of the elected few in March.
You are currently rehearsing for the role of Melody, how do you get acquainted with this new role?
What new choreographic language have you discovered?
Bolero is a very powerful choreography, and yet it
remains very pure and simple in terms of movement. With Maurice Béjart, we need
to leave the angles of classical positions aside and adopt very clear, straight
lines. As we will be dancing at the Opéra Bastille, movements must be deployed
to the maximum because of the distance between the stage and the auditorium.
I’ve been listening to Maurice Ravel’s music a lot in order to get a precise
idea of what I want to communicate. Dancing Melody is an unbelievable
opportunity for me, especially since I’m performing it in the middle of my
career. I may well be an Etoile with years of experience behind me, but Bolero remains a mythical role – to such
an extent that I felt that it was too gigantic for me. I am grateful to Aurélie
Dupont for this mark of confidence.
The role was initially conceived for female dancers. What characteristics does it, in your view, acquire when danced by a man?
There is a great difference between men and women, just as there is between all performers generally. Each brings his or her own touch to the choreography. However, I have the impression that an almost warlike and animalistic force emanates from masculine performances because of their physical stamina. With women, there is still strength, but it’s more magnetic. The choreography becomes an ode to femininity and the performer is elevated to the level of an icon. I have watched video recordings of Bolero with Duška Sifnios and Jacqueline Rayet. They are like majestuous goddesses! On the other hand, when I see Jorge Donn or Nicolas le Riche, they offer us a very strong performance, maybe more embodied, more concrete.
You are on the bill in both Onegin and Bolero. How do you make the transition from the narrative character of Lenski, the role that earned you your nomination to the rank of Etoile in 2009, to the highly abstract choreography of Bolero?
Your reading: And Béjart created Bolero