Dance: Features
You are in:  Home > Dance > Features   •  Archives   •  send page to a friend

Headline Feed
Email to a friend



Josua Hoffalt in a choreography by Samuel Murez
Photo courtesy of Paris Opera Ballet



By Patricia Boccadoro

PARIS, 18 September 2006—Since 1981, when the short-lived Groupe de Recherches Chorégraphiques was founded, members of the Paris Opera Ballet have been encouraged to create ballets and have done so with differing degrees of success. In recent years, while José Martinez triumphed at the Paris Opera School with his light-hearted Scaramouche, a work commissioned by director Brigitte Lefevre, Kader Belarbi had problems convincing with his Wuthering Heights .  And if Nicolas Le Riche fell flat on his nose with Caligula, all research but little inspiration, Yann Bridard , currently working on a commission for National Ballet of Nancy, has already created several interesting short pieces.

Every two or three years company members and not only the étoiles are given the opportunity to stage their creations, and these evenings are invariably a huge success, helped along by the fact that they are interpreted by some of the world's finest dancers. This year's programme, which presented ten works in the amphitheatre of the Opera Bastille, was no exception.

Of particular note was the beautiful pas de deux by Nicolas Paul, Entre d et e…, set to Hildegard von Bingen's, O vis aeternitatis, and interpreted by Charline Giezendanner and Charlotte Ranson.

Nicolas Paul: Entre d et e…
Charline Giezendanner and Charlotte Ranson
Photo courtesy of Paris Opera Ballet

After the promising Explicite Artifice, his first creation a few years ago, Nuit des sens by Sébastien Bertaud also deserves special mention, but more for the exceptional cast of Marie-Agnès Gillot, Cyril Atanassoff, and Jean-Marie Didière, than for the work's choreographic qualities.  Enjoyable also was Saint-Germain-des-Prés by Béatrice Martel and Chemin de traverse by Mallory Gaudion.

However, the revelation of the evening was the ballet Epiphénomènes by 23 year-old Samuel Murez, a young dancer/choreographer who has already several works to his credit and who shows real potential. Murez possesses a true creative identity; his ballet was inventive, imaginative and full of intelligence and humour.

Murez, of French and American origin, studied at the Paris Opera School and joined the company in 2001 at the age of 19. He'd already begun to choreograph, creating pieces for himself when a knee injury forced him to quit dance temporarily; it gave him the opportunity to concentrate and develop his own choreographic style.

"My aim is to make a movie on stage", he told me. "If you think back to when The Sylphide was created in 1932 and put it into the context of the time, it's comparable to Matrix today. Incredible special effects were created, with girls flying through the air, appearing from chimneys as if by magic and then disappearing. Reality was constantly being mixed with the imaginary. Even the girl's low necklines were daring for the period. It was hot stuff! Not everyone goes to the theatre or to see ballet; they go to the cinema to have fun. I want people to have a good time when they see my ballets and to leave the theatre in a happy frame of mind."

Murez told me it was a hat he found which inspired his piece, created at Vieux-Boucau in the South of France earlier this year. He had several ideas turning around in his head and the hat triggered off the invention of a Trickster, a manipulator / magician figure who was bored and began looking around for mischief. 

Samuel Murez: Epiphénomènes
Paris Opera Ballet
Photo courtesy of Paris Opera Ballet

"He's a weird character who appears on stage in a purple velvet coat, a cane, and this hat, and hangs around waiting for something to happen. He conjures up a boy and girl, Jack and Jill, and plays with them, leading them to believe they were acting of their own free will when they were obviously not.  The music, an original composition from the group, The Misters, starts up and the girl and boy cross in the street, look back at one another, and go on their way. The rendez-vous is missed. So I rewound the music, gave the girl a handkerchief to drop to give the guy a chance to pick it up and speak to her, and started the piece again.  When he hands it to her, he's tongue-tied, and the rendezvous missed again. Back to square one. The music starts up again, and this time round the boy is carrying a bunch of flowers, but when the girl shows her delight, he kisses her and gets his face slapped........"

"Things finally work out and everyone gets it right, but when the Trickster has had his fun, he kills them. Then he feels hungry, goes to the corner of the stage and eats a banana that has popped up from nowhere. He drinks a glass of something before deciding the bodies are in the way and calls on a couple of helpers to clean up the place. He's not even nasty; he treats the people the same way as the banana."

"I also had the cooperation of some extraordinary dancers. Alice Renavand and Josua Hoffalt who interpret the young couple use real emotions, and I was able to bring out the special brand of humour that already exists in everyday life between Stéphane Bullion and Alexandre Carniato, the two henchmen, both superb interpreters."

He said that he was influenced, not by the actual choreography of William Forsythe, but by the principles that generate his movement, and added that he also admired the work of Russell Maliphant and the theatricality of Matthew Bourne. But as far as the work of Murez himself is concerned, his style is unique, owing allegiance to none. Once he finds his story, he seems to know instinctively the right vocabulary, lighting and music to translate what he has to say, bringing a sense of fun to his work, mostly absent from ballet these days.

Patricia Boccadoro is dance editor at

[ Feedback | Home ]

If you value this page, please send it to a friend.

Copyright © 2005 Euromedia Group, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.