Suite en blanc / Serenade / Bolero
Neoclassical ballet fans are bound to love the triple bill Suite en blanc / Serenade / Bolero at Rome’s Teatro Costanzi this season. In it, the beloved composers Édouard Lalo, Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Maurice Ravel shine with some of their best melodies, set to dance by some of the 20th century’s most renowned choreographers. The combinations stir emotions, entertain and make up an unforgettable evening of music, motion and high art.
The triple performance begins with Suite en blanc, a classic ballet performance produced by the choreographer Serge Lifar. The performers’ all-white costumes give its name (‘A suite in white’ in English). Ballet companies around the world love staging this piece because of its highly technical nature that allows dancers to demonstrate their expressivity as well as their virtuosity. Édouard Lalo originally composed the music for the 19th-century ballet Namouna, choreographed by Lucien Petipa, but the piece failed to make an impression. Lifar saw the score’s potential and created a new choreography that focussed less on the plot and more on the associative nature of the dance. Thus, Suite en blanc became a timeless hit.
The second one-act ballet of the night is Serenade with music by the great Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. An original ballet by George Balanchine, it was also his American choreographic debut in 1934. The dance master had composed a complex exercise routine for his ballet students with four distinct movements, each of which expressed a specific emotion through carefully executed stage movement. Combined with Tchaikovsky’s splendid Romantic scoring, Serenade was born and has since become a favourite neoclassical ballet for companies around the globe.
Maurice Ravel’s mesmerising Bolero, complete with the visually stunning choreography of Krzysztof Pastor, rounds off the neoclassical ballet evening at Teatro dell’Opera di Roma. The musical piece itself debuted at the Paris Opera in 1928 and became a cult classic with its ostinato rhythm (curiously enough, not a classical bolero!). The ballet based on the composition had its own debut at the Dutch National Opera and Ballet in 2012 and has enjoyed similar success and acclaim since then. Let the wings of Ravel’s melodies carry you!