World première: Shakespeare, Shostakovich, Maillot


Jean-Christophe Maillot sees The Taming of the Shrew as a marvelous story about human relationships which simply demands to be translated into body language. He has always been inspired by the way a dancer’s body can tell a story and for this reason he very much wanted his first encounter with Bolshoi Theatre dancers to take the form of a narrative ballet.

In addition
to which this is a ballet he had long dreamed of creating for his principal dancer Bernice. The Taming of the Shrew is a great play with a fairly complex plot, says Maillot, but what intrigues me above all, is that it is one of Shakespeare’s most sexual works. A passionate analysis of love relationships (however strange this may seem) — is what rivets Maillot’s attention here: he is a choreographer who loves to retell a classical story in his own way. He considers that this is a play about the meeting of two exceptional characters who cannot bear the idea of having a mediocre relationship with each other — or with anyone else, for that matter.

There is nothing unexpected about the fact that the ballet has been set to Dmitri Shostakovich’s music, but
what is surprising is that it is drawn entirely from the latter’s film music. “In coming to Russia, making contact with a new culture”, says Jean-Christophe, "it was natural I should take the initiative in establishing contact with the Company with which I was going to work, attempt to fathom the spirit of the incredible Bolshoi Theatre. The composer had to be Russian — for me that was obvious. I have mounted several pieces to Shostakovich’s music, but it was in working at the Bolshoi that I would discover his unique music for films. This music reveals his grotesque, satirical core. One feels in it a mad sense of release, the liberty all artists dream of. In this Shostakovich is like Katharina. Secretive, giving herself out to be someone quite different, then suddenly a powerful revelation of her real self — just like Shostakovich in this music.