Malandain Ballet Biarritz at Chaillot and around Europe

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Décor for La Pastorale is by Jorge Gallardo and lighting by François Menou,©Jean Couturier

Paris was a mess because of the strikes and yet Théâtre de Chaillot was fully booked for a week with Malandain Ballet Biarritz performing “La Pastorale”, a tribute to Beethoven on the 250 th anniversary of his birth, commissioned by Theater Bonn. It was the first time I saw this now famous company made of International dancers and based in Biarritz. Thierry Malandain, who started at the Paris Ballet and danced for Ballet du Rhin, has now established it as one of the leading European companies. And it was a very good surprise.

Hugo Layer dancing la pastorale on Beethoven’s music, ©Olivier Houeix

There are two themes in the evening: one, which lasts approximately twenty minutes, is set in a large cage where dancers navigate under and around aluminum beams: they are dressed in medieval type dresses, men and women alike, with short hair and décolleté in the back. The effect is disturbing and excites one’s curiosity. Man is imprisoned in the aluminum cubes and tries to evade, and one suffers for the performers.

La Pastorale, ©Jean Couturier

The second one, where dancers are dressed in very light pale tuniques, is the redemption and the liberation of man at the heart of La Pastorale. Men and women are not only dressed alike but they dance in a way that mixes genres. I found it a little repetitive but interestingly disturbing in its unisex genre. Some duets are openly gay, trios are very ambiguous…

“La Pastorale” choreographed by Thierry Malandain, © Olivier Houeix

You can see Malandain ballet later on this year on December 28 and 29 at Gare du Midi in Biarritz and next year again in May (2 to 5), in Saint Quentin en Yvelines on 10-11 January, in Antwerp on June 20-21 and in many other cities in Germany in January.

Frederik Deberdt and Arnaud Mahouy, La Pastorale, ©Olivier Houeix

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