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Danse Danse is welcoming the prestigious Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève, which will be making its first appearance on a Quebec stage. Rarely seen in Canada, and considered one of Europe’s most original and inventive ballets, the celebrated Swiss company is offering a program featuring three of the leading figures of contemporary dance: Saburo Teshigawara (KARAS), Andonis Foniadakis and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. The works created by this talented trio, performed by the company’s 22 dancers, are suffused with charm and wit. “Among the most beautiful evenings of ballet in recent memory” (Le Nouvel Observateur, Paris). Prepare yourself for an unforgettable experience.

Para-Dice / Saburo Teshigawara

Choreographed for the Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève in 2002, Para-Dice alludes to both paradise and luck.

“Saburo Teshigawara is a solar system unto himself. A virtuoso of immobility, this free electron of Japanese dance and master of experimentation combines the speed of light with the precision of a scalpel. […] The work’s title, Para-dice, is well-chosen.” (L’Express, Paris)

Selon désir / Andonis Foniadakis

Presented in its world premiere by the Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève in February 2004, Selon désir is inspired by the opening choruses of J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and St. John Passion.

“This is ininterrupted choral dance, with seamless entrances and exits. Foniadakis has a talent for theatre and drama, and if his intent was to choreograph a steady stream of joyous movement, we can only say that he has succeeded.” (Libération, Paris)

Loin / Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui

Commissioned by the Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève in 2005, Loin questions the distance between human beings, eras and cultures. The choreographer transports the company’s 22 dancers into an audio-visual world of disparate elements, seemingly far away from us. Knowing the pleasure that Cherkaoui derives from juxtaposing cultures in the same space-time, we can easily imagine that from this cross-breeding a reconciliation will emerge.

“Wonder of wonders […] A declaration of faith in love and human kindness, Loin was unanimously acclaimed by an enthusiastic audience.”
 (Le Figaro, Paris)

Le Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève

Since the arrival of Philippe Cohen at the helm of the Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève, the company has undergone an extraordinary revival. They are sought-after by producers around the world and hailed by critics.

“A micro-revolution in the recent history of the Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève which, starting next year, could well thrust the company onto the world’s most avant-garde stages.” (Le Temps, Genève)
“The Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève and its exceptional dancers are now playing in the arena of the masters.” (Paris Capitale)

The Grand Théâtre de Genève, occupying an imposing building on Geneva’s Place Neuve, was inaugurated in 1876. At the turn of the 20th century, the Grand Théâtre de Genève presented some of the most illustrious dancers and companies of the day, including Isadora Duncan and Nijinski with the Ballets Russes. However, it wasn't until the Grand Théâtre reopened in 1962 (after extensive renovations following a fire) that it established its own resident company, placed under the artistic direction successively of Janine Charrat, Serge Golovine, Patricia Neary, Peter van Dyck, Oscar Araiz, Gradimir Pankov (currently artistic director of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal), François Passard, Giorgio Mancini, and Philippe Cohen. From the very  beginning, the company has explored the stylistic plurality of 20th century dance, working with such leading figures as George Balanchine (who served as artistic consultant, 1970–1978), Mikhail Baryshnikov, Rudolf Nureyev, Jirí Kylián, Ohad Naharin, William Forsythe, and Lucinda Childs.

Today, the Ballet du Grand Théâtre’s twenty-two classically trained dancers of diverse nationalities are equally at ease with neo-classic and contemporary choreographies. A typical Ballet du Grand Théâtre season includes two new works, favourites from the company's repertoire, touring shows, educational activities, and professional development workshops for dancers and choreographers.

The choreographers

Saburo Teshigawara
The most influential choreographer in Japan and a legendary figure in contemporary dance worldwide, Saburo Teshigawara is renowned for his extraordinary technique and innovations. The founding director of KARAS is also noted for his art exhibitions, films and videos, as well as for the scenography, lighting and costume design for all his performances. Teshigawara's keenly honed sculptural sensibilities and powerful sense of composition, command of space, and striking dance movements combine to create a world that is his alone. Montreal audiences have been privileged to see this world first-hand at the Festival international de Nouvelle danse (FIND): Shi-No-Hana (1989), Dah-Dah-Sko-Dah-Dah (1991), Noiject (1995), all three of which won the festival’s Prix du public, and I was Real – Documents (1999).

Sound, time, air and space are the focal elements in his avant-garde productions, which have received several important distinctions, including the Japanese Dance Critics Association Award (1987, 2000) and the Asahi Performing Arts Award (2002, 2003). In 2004, he was nominated as dance mentor for the Rolex Mentor and Protegé Arts Initiative, a one-year term with a chosen protégé.

Not until he was 20 years old, after studies in painting and visual arts, did Teshigawara take up classical ballet. From the early 1980s, however, he forged a unique style that would change the image of Japanese dance forever. In 1985 he co-founded KARAS with partner Kei Miyata in a quest for “a new form of beauty.” Since then, he has enthralled critics with such ensemble pieces as Ishi-No-Hana (1989), Dah-Dah-Sko-Dah-Dah (1991), I was Real – Documents (1996) and Luminous (2001), and such spectacular solos as Bones in Pages (1991), Here to Here (1995) and Absolute Zero (1998).

Over the last fifteen years, at the request of various European ballet companies and colleagues, he has choreographed a variety of works, including White Clouds Under the Heels (1994/1995), Modulation (2000), Air (2003) for the Opéra de Paris, Kazahana (2004), as well as Scream and Whisper (2005) in Rome. Since 2006, he has been a professor at St. Paul’s (Rikkyo) University in Japan, where he teaches movement theory and conducts workshops.

Andonis Foniadakis
Born in Crete, choreographer Andonis Foniadakis is the artistic director of the Apotos ma Dance Company. He trained as a dancer at the National School of Dance (1988-1990) and at the Rudra Béjart in Lausanne (1990-1992). He then danced with Béjart Ballet Lausanne for two years, appearing in such ballets as King Lear, The Art of Pas de Deux, Messe pour un temps présent, L’Oiseau de feu and Igor et Moi, Wagner. From  1996 to 2002, he performed with the Lyon Opera Ballet, where he performed works by Maguy Marin, William Forsythe, Jirí Kylián, Nacho Duato, Mats Ek, Frédéric Flamand, Ohad Naharin and Bill T. Jones. Foniadakis also appeared in Dominique Boivin’s Casse-Noisette (title role), Tero Saarinen’s Sini, Joachim Slohmer’s Concerto and Petrouchka, Lionel Hoche’s Origami de la chair, John Jaspers’ Double Face, Pascal Touzeau’s Final Lecture, Allesio Silvestrin’s Perspective depuis les ruines, and Jo Kanamori’s Arbre noir. As an independent dancer, he took part in the creation of Kazahana by KARAS.

Foniadakis’ choreographic career began in 1994 with In Between, followed by Court Métrage in 1996 for Béjart Ballet Lausanne. He created Fila Filon for the Festival de Danse in Cannes (1997), Aurore Boréale for the International Festival of Copenhagen, and Lava Nama for the Lyon Opera Ballet (1999). He also presented Pénombre at the International Festival of Copenhagen, and Handle With Care at the National Theatre of Northern Greece. As guest choreographer, he has created works for the Ballet National du Rhin, the Opéra National du Rhin, the Washington Ballet, the Benjamin Millepied Dance Project USA, and the Nomadic Project Tokyo. In 2004 Andonis Foniadakis created the ballet Use for his young troupe, performed at the 11th Biennale de la Danse in Lyon.

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui
A dancer and choreographer born in Antwerp to a Belgian mother and Moroccan father, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui studied at P.A.R.T.S. in Brussels, the contemporary dance school directed by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. In 1995, he received first prize for the Best Belgian Dance Solo in Ghent, in a competition launched by Alain Platel, the founder of Les Ballets C. de la B. Platel then invited him to take part in Iets op Bach (1997-1998), a dance-theatre piece which toured the world (including Montreal).

Rien de rien (2000), his first choreography as a member of the artistic core of Les Ballets C. de la B., toured throughout Europe, winning the Special Prize in Belgrade at the BITEF festival in 2001. This was the work that launched his international career, making him a household name among producers, critics and contemporary dance enthusiasts.

In July 2002, he took part in the “Vif du Sujet” at the Festival d’Avignon with his solo it (2002), directed by Wim Vandekeybus, with whom he worked closely on the choreography. In September of the same year, he co-directed with Damien Jalet, Luc Dunberry and Juan Kruz Diaz de Garaio Esnaola the choreography for D'avant for the Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz in Berlin. Cherkaoui’s next choreography for Les Ballets C. de la B., Foi, was presented at Danse Danse in 2003.

In 2004, at the request of the Festival d’Avignon, he choreographed and directed Tempus fugit for Les Ballets C de la B. With stellar collaborators—choreographer-dancer Akram Khan, composer Nitin Sawhney and sculptor Antony Gormley—he created and performed in the duet zero degrees (2005), which was an international triumph.

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui has also created works for the Ballet de Monte-Carlo (In Memoriam and Mea Culpa), for the Göteborg Dance & Theatre Festival (End), the Royal Danish Ballet (L’Homme de bois), and the Théâtre de La Monnaie in Brussels (Apocryphe).

In 2006 the artistic director of Toneelhuis in Antwerp, Guy Cassiers, invited him to join the theatre as an artist-in-residence. For Toneelhuis he created Myth in 2007, which is featured on the current program of Danse Danse, as well as Origine, co-produced by  Toneelhuis and the De Bijloke Theatre in Ghent, where it had its world premiere in January 2008.

Duration: 110 minutes – including the intermission


General director:  Jean-Marie Blanchard
Director of the Ballet: Philippe Cohen
Partner of the Ballet du Grand Théâtre: PRO HELVETIA and UBS 

Choreography, Set Design, Costuming and Lighting: Saburo Teshigawara
Sound Creation: Willi Bopp
Assistants: Rihoko Sato et Ravi Deepres
Lighting Assistant: Simon MacColl
Duration: 22 minutes
Number of dancers: 8

Selon désir
Choreography and Costuming: Andonis Foniadakis
Music: Jean-Sébastien Bach, Chœurs d’entrée de la Passion selon Saint Matthieu et de la Passion selon Saint Jean
Sound Creation: Julien Tarride
Lighting: Rémi Nicolas
Costuming Assistant: Marion Schmid
Duration: 22 minutes
Number of dancers: 16


Choreography: Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui 
Music: Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber, extraits des Sonates des Mystères du Rosaire
Scenography and Lighting: Wim Van de Cappelle
Costuming:  Isabelle Lhoas, avec la collaboration de Frédéric Denis
Assistant Choreographers: Nicolas Vladyslav, Damien Jalet
Duration: 47 minutes
Number of dancers: 22

Photos 1 and 4 (Loin): GTG/Mario del Curto
Photo 2 (Para-Dice) and photo 3 (Selon désir): GTG/Gregory Bartadon

March 2008