“Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings” Salvador Dali
The Australian Ballet’s first tour to Paris in more than 40 years was an unforgettable experience for both the company and myself. I have danced in the city of lights before, but this time I had the opportunity to perform the role I created with choreographer Krzysztof Pastor on the stage of the Théâtre du Châtelet, which has hosted the premieres of some of the greatest Stravinsky and Ballet Russes creations. The building has a fineness of architecture and fortitude of spirit, and I spent a magical night perched on its rooftop looking out over the familiar sites of Paris, including Notre Dame, La Tour Eiffel and the Louvre as the dance of the cygnets from Graeme Murphy’s Swan Lake played below.
Both Swan Lake and Pastor’s Symphonie Fantastique were warmly received by French audiences and critics, as was Rites, Stephen Page’s contribution to the tour. Rites was next taken to London’s Sadler’s Wells theatre where it was paired with Massine’s Le Presages, and then Swan Lake was presented in Manchester at the Lowry. The schedule was tight, but the company worked hard.
A European vacation was well-deserved!
In one short week I was able to zip across Britain – from Liverpool to Edinburgh – then back to London where I boarded a plane to Barcelona. After a few days at the Hostal Girona (a charming family-run hotel in the heart of the city), a visit to the Gran Teatre del Liceu (to see German-Catalan opera Tiefland), and more than a few sangrias, I hired a car and headed north along the coastal roads toward Tossa, Roses and Cadaques – Salvador Dali’s picturesque seaside home away from home. Following a brief skip across the French border to Perpignan, I turned around and drove back to Girona for a sleepy night in a friendly B&B located within the stonewalled old town.
One of the highlights of my time in Europe was a day-long visit to the Lourve, during which I stood in awe of La Jeune Martyre, a painting by Paul Delaroche, created a year before his death in 1855. I also loved the ancient mythological sculptures and found that while the French sculptors were creating images of grandiloquence, the Greeks were using a more sensitive hand to depict depth and reality with soft, flesh-like marble.
Finally, I must mention that I paid my respects to Nijinsky at his grave in Montmartre. His plot is signified by a detailed monument depicting him as the tragic puppet Petrouchka. I hope I too can do the role justice one day. Remi