November 27, 2022

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Ballet de Lorraine Season 2022-23 #1: The carefree trust of lovers [by Tracy Danison]

3 min read

View of Stanislas Square from the Opéra National de Lorraine. Architecture, culture, venue, the city of Nancy is a little gem of a big provincial city and a good place to live. Photo Patrick Maheul

A few hours watching the Ballet de Lorraine interpret Loîc Touzé and Maud Le Pladec in Nancy’s opera is luxury – quality art, choreography, culture, a beautiful venue, a little gem of a big provincial town with nice shops and restaurants, friendly people.

Neat and sprawling, this neoclassical art deco town is a good place to stay.

When Nancy’s opera director, Petter Jacobsson, and his crew work with the tourist office to bring weekend guests to the city, they’re doing a job that’s doubly deserved, whatever the contract may say. But sadly, in a shaky act of post-Covid panic foot-shooting, regional authorities have slashed Jacobsson’s already stretched budget by a blanket 10%.

There is no other ballet company with the group mood of the Ballet de Lorraine. They exude the carefree confidence of lovers. Whether at their home in Nancy or on tour, I come away from a Ballet de Lorraine performance feeling like I’ve made an acquaintance – an acquaintance with someone else’s world.

I think that sense is due to the diversity of the company. Not so much a variety of morphologies, attitudes, ethnicities. This is just a reflection of France today. More importantly, “diversity” seems to them to be an expression of the right to be who one is on stage: an individual person, a distinct person, even in a group of individuals.

Ballet de Lorraine Season 2022-23 #1: The carefree trust of lovers [by Tracy Danison]

“No Oco”, Loïc Touzé. Photo © Laurent Philippe

Your performance style certainly gives the person space.

The company seems to work less by a standard and more by parameters: through a mixture of individual interpretations and a will to amalgamate talent, they seem to be working towards a cumulative act of imagination rather than an ideal enforced by instruction and correction. The result is that I admire less the execution of a phrase than I do waiting for what comes next. As a narrative of movement, they are more thrillers than romance.

The Ballet de Lorraine has something of the high-wire acrobat ethic: good performance, group trust and cohesion are ultimately the same. I’m thinking in particular of Machine de Cirque, the Quebec troupe whose approach ensures that “mistakes” come out, at least for audiences, as exciting “variations” on their sparkling antics.

4Welcome to the Opera by NancySTATIC-SHOT (c) LaurentPhilippe-7 - copy

“Static Shot”, Maid Le Pladec. Photo © Laurent Philippe

Click here for a taste of Ballet de Lorraine’s “Perfection in Execution” through time and a mix of choreographies.

The Ballet de Lorraine’s 2022/23 season has started with Program 1 featuring Loîc Touzé’s No Oco (Portuguese for ‘Not Empty’) and Maud Le Pladec’s Static Shot.

Both pieces have come about, at least in part, as part of opera’s celebration of the community of creators, performers, craftsmen and citizens who make it up and carry it on. Program 2, in April 2023, also includes new creations, Rarity, by Adam Linder and Dancefloor, by Michèle Murray. Program 3, in May and June 2023, will do a mix of modern dance legend, commemoration, remix, contemporary invited repertoire and classic hip-hop – Sounddance, For Four Walls, Air Condition, Un Boléro, Cela nousconcerne tous (“That concerns all”) and Earthbound. I’m particularly looking forward to Un Boléro, choreographed by Dominique Brun and François Chaignaud, and note that Chaignaud’s Souflette made me appreciate the old-style camp. Also, he’s always wild or trying to be.

Ballet de Lorraine (and its host city) is well worth the train ride.

Diversity is Ballet de Lorraine’s critical success factor: the right to express the individual within the company’s endeavours.

Diversity is Ballet de Lorraine’s critical success factor: the right to express the individual within the company’s endeavours.

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