Friday, November 23, 2007

A Dancing Master - Maurice Béjart - 1927-2007

This is a revised posting of the item I put up late last night on first hearing of the death of Maurice Béjart. I was able to do a bit of research for clarification.
It was May 1990 and we were living in Cairo. Maurice Béjart had recently converted to Islam and to honour his new faith had created a ballet Pyramide - el Nour with Béjart himself dancing and including a segment using the music of Umm (Ohm) Khulthum the great Egyptian chanteuse. The premiere took place in the new Cairo Opera House on Zamalach Island, a stones throw from where we lived. The new work was totally overshadowed by the performance of what had been the Ballet de XXieme Siecle's signature piece Ravel's Bolero and was now in the repetory of his Béjart Ballet Lausanne. It was advertised as the last performance that Béjart's company would give of this 20th century masterpiece of dance* and in deference to Egyptian sensibilities was the male version.

All I remember of Pyramide was a dancer in green - the colour of the Prophet - but to this day I still recall the incredible building of tension as Béjart's dancers moved to Ravel's supreme exercise in orchestration. I couldn't find one clip of the entire 15 minute opus so there is a break in what should be a steady, pounding beat of dance but it remains a great piece of choreography.

Bolero - Music: Maurice Ravel Choreography: Maurice Béjart Dancers: Elizabeth Ros and Ottavio Stanley

Part I

Part II

*I wonder now how true that was, if it was the case it appears that Béjart choreography for Bolero continued to be performed by other dance companies.

Revised posting: 23 novembre - San Clemente Papa
Originally posted: 22 novembre - Santa Cecilia


Doralong said...

A brilliant piece of choreography- but bloody well exhausting to dance..which actually is the true mark of a brilliant piece.

Willym said...

D: I can't even imagine the physical shape required to be able to dance or the exhaustion that must set in afterwards.