Compagnie M

"Mère Teresa et les enfants du monde"
Choreography: Maurice Béjart

Teatro Olimpico, Rome, Italy

October 26, 2002
By Patrizia Vallone

Compagnie M is Maurice Béjart’s latest brainchild. Unable to take into his existing company all the graduates of the Rudra dance school that he and Michel Gascard co-direct in Lausanne, but likewise unable to bear the thought of parting with these extremely talented young dancers, he formed Compagnie M just for them. It currently comprises seven girls and eight boys aged 17 to 21, from nine different countries. Mère Teresa et les enfants du monde is their first show; it premièred in Lausanne last October.

As the title tells us, Béjart dedicated this ballet to Mother Teresa of Calcutta, thus taking up once again the theme of spirituality so dear to him, and returning to India, albeit a Christian India and not a Hindu one, like the one portrayed in several of his works from a few years ago. The whole is set to Indian music mixed with Bach, Mozart and rock.

The setting is a refuge for the derelict and the abandoned. A middle-aged woman (Marcia Haydée) has renounced her wealth to take care of all these poor people, offering them food and love. Her plain white dress and open blue cardigan recall Mother Teresa’s habit.

The ballet is very discontinuous. On the one hand, one can’t help but admire the performers, who, besides being beautiful, enthusiastic and divinely good dancers, also have to act and sing. On the other hand, there are moments of utter boredom – especially when excerpts from Mother Teresa’s books are declaimed.

The choreography isn’t one of Béjart’s most original; now and then a dejà vu crops up, like the usual barres, suffered and loved by dancers the world over. This time the barres are not fixed but are brandished like sticks or used as rhythmic instruments, and also for their primary function as supports for dance exercises.

There’s also a piece of academic technique on pointe, as well as some singing. Among all these wonderful dancers I’d like to mention Yannis François, from Guadaloupe, who has a particularly beautiful voice, and the excellent William Pedro, from the favelas of Brazil, who, thanks to the help of a patron, was able to attend dance school. There’s also an Italian boy, Vittorio Bertolli, who’s likewise very good.

Marcia Haydée, a 65-year-old grand lady of ballet, deserves a special note. Since the 1960s, she has had a brilliant and fabulous international career, though her name was linked especially to the Stuttgart Ballet (which she eventually directed for about fifteen years). An actress-ballerina of great dramatic talent, she inspired many great choreographers. John Cranko, Kenneth MacMillian, John Neumeier and Glen Tetley, just to mention a few, created immortal masterpieces for her.

Her great interpretative abilities and extraordinary personality and stage presence were overwhelming on this occasion too.

The audience, though not large, was warmly appreciative.


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Edited by Malcolm.

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