PHOTO : © Dominique Jaussein
The beginnings of the company
The Ballet de l'Opéra de Nice was founded in 1947 by Pierre Pasquini. Its first ballet master was Françoise Adret. Until 1959, the ballet's management team called on renowned choreographers as well as star guests to produce pieces associated with the opera house's musical programme. Claire Motte, Youly Algaroff, Claire Sombert, Lyane Daydé, Josette Amiel, and John Gilpin, to name but a few, left their mark on this first chapter in the ballet's history. The company was successively directed by Lycette Darsonval, Jean-Pierre Ruffier, Tony Pardina, Martine Parmain, Jean-Michel Bouvron, Marc Ribaud and Eleonora Gori.
The company today
After a hiatus of several years, the new town council wanted to restore dance's former glory and decided to reshuffle Nice's opera house by appointing a prestigious artistic director. Having collaborated with some of the world's top choreographers and having already directed a number of companies, Éric Vu-An was appointed to the role, a renowned dancer who had made a name for himself at the opera house in Paris.
His arrival in 2009 prompted the company to reach new heights, renamed as the Ballet Nice Méditerranée. In order to better serve the new director's repertoire and artistic vision, eight soloist positions were created. Work began on collaborations with other bodies such as the C.N.R.R (Conservatoire de Nice)'s dance department and the Cannes Rosella Hightower school of dance, as well as the Monaco Dance Forum, for which the new Ballet Nice Méditerranée was invited to perform in December 2009, as part of the 100th anniversary of the Ballets Russes celebrations.
In this same spirit of openness, the company produced a summer line-up performed at the Théâtre de Verdure. This off-site line-up also included performances at the Théâtre National de Nice and the Jardins de Cimiez. In a bid to promote dance among a younger audience, the company devised a programme of educational initiatives and boosted its reputation thanks to joint projects with other dance companies.
Its international reputation was bolstered thanks to an increasing number of tours: Italy – Spain – China – Hong Kong ('French May' festival) – Cuba - Russia…
It was these objectives that shaped the new image of the Ballet Nice Méditerranée.
The first productions staged by this rejuvenated company took place on January 2010 at the Opéra Nice Côte d’Azur, to which audiences flocked to enjoy a line-up that served as a tribute to the Ballets Russes. That same year, it incorporated a huge range of very diverse pieces into its repertoire. The tone was set, and the Ballet Nice Méditerranée's new identity was based on its ability to take on a wide range of varied dance styles, including some of the most technically challenging.
The classical repertoire
The Company is renowned for the quality of its dancers, all of whom have received classical training of the highest order and excel in performing pieces from the classical repertoire. Even the most demanding of ballet enthusiasts and fans have not failed to be impressed by their performances of pieces such as: Don Quixote (E. Vu-An) - Coppelia (E. Vu-An) - Les Sylphides (M. Fokine) Allegro Brillante, Chaconne and Concerto Barocco (G. Balanchine) - Suite en blanc and Romeo and Juliet (S.Lifar) - Raymonda (E. Vu-An adapted from Petipa) - Sylvia (E. Vu-An adapted from L. Mérante) - The Two Pigeons (E. Vu-An adapted from A. Aveline) - Soir de fête (L. Staats), La Sylphide (D. Bjorn adapted from A. Bournonville).
While classical dance forms an integral part of the Ballet Nice Méditerranée's identity, the company also covers a more modern form of dance that nevertheless remains inextricably bound to the classical. As a result, the Ballet's repertoire also includes: Afternoon of a Faun (Nijinsky) Cantate 51 (M.Béjart) - Pas de Dieux, which hadn't been performed in France for over 40 years (G. Kelly, staged by Claude Bessy) - Viva Verdi (G. Mancini, 2010) - Marco Polo (L. Cannito, 2010) - The Envelope (D. Parsons), Por vos Muero, Gnawa (N. Duato) - Voluntaries (G. Tetley) - The Moor's Pavane (J.Limon) - Adagietto and Rhapsodie (O. Araiz) - Three Preludes (B. Stevenson) - Night Creature (Alvin Ailey) - Sinfonietta (Jiří Kylián - Troy Games (R. North).
Finally, Éric Vu-An, invited a number of leading figures in the world of dance to choreograph original pieces for the Company, transforming it into a place of creativity and new discoveries. The following original pieces were created for the Ballet Nice Méditerranée: La Campanella (G. Mancini, 2010) - Oceana (Lucinda Childs, 2011) - Verse Us (D. Rhoden, 2014), all three of which were recently nominated for the Benois de la Danse 2015 awards.