Students of Monaco’s Princess Grace Academy of Dance are in the final stages of preparation for their annual end of year gala which takes place in Monte-Carlo on 18th and 19th June. This is an important event in the training programme of these young dancers – the culmination of their studies over the past year, and an opportunity to demonstrate their prowess as they aspire to establishing themselves as artists on the international stage.
This year’s presentation is special for another reason, too – for the first time, the dancers will be accompanied by the Monte-Carlo International Youth Orchestra, led by Alessandro Crudele, considered to be one of the most outstanding and versatile young conductors to emerge from Italy in recent years.
Each year, as the the standard of dancing becomes higher, the gala becomes more professional, reflecting the growing importance of the Academy under the supervision of Artistic Director, Luca Masala, and his staff. The Academy, he says, is “not only a place of learning, but also a school of life”, guiding its dancers “through hard work, discipline and passion to their highest dreams”.
In this presentation, the dancers will present a programme of both classical and contemporary dance. Orise is a work which has been choreographed by Michel Rahn, who – since 2011 – has held the position of Director and Assistant Teacher of dance at the Academy. A former principal dancer with companies such as Nederlands Dans Theater, the Grand Geneva Ballet and the Royal Ballet of Flanders, Michel Rahn has been teaching since 1976, and made his debut as a choreographer in 1981. He has created some 30 classical and contemporary works to date.
The programme also features a work by George Balanchine – his Donizetti Variations. Choreographed for New York City Ballet in 1960, this ballet was part of a programme entitled Salute to Italy, celebrating the 100th anniversary of that country’s unification. The other ballets on the Salute to Italy programme tended to be somewhat sombre, and Balanchine felt that he needed a “cheerful and sunny work” as a balance, so he chose selections from Donizetti’s opera Don Sebastian for these variations – the bel canto composer being well known for his melodic and lyrical scores. (George Balanchine Trust)
COMUNIC/ACTIONS is a work by Eugenio Buratti, Repertory Dance Master and choreographer for Balletto di Toscana. With a background in both classical ballet and contemporary modern dance, Buratti has performed in works by Balanchine, Alvin Ailey and Glen Tetley, and his career as a dancer also included the role of Tazio opposite Rudolf Nureyev (as von Aschenbach) in Morte a Venezia (Death in Venice), in the Fleming Flindt production at Teatro Filarmonico Ente Arena in Verona in 1991. He currently collaborates with choreographers such as Angelin Preljocaj and Hans Van Manen in the creation of a contemporary repertoire for Balletto di Toscana.
The gala also features a world premiere – Somnia Vertigo, choreographed by Julien Guérin – a member of the company of Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo. It’s an elegant and stylish work – performed to music from Beethoven’s Symphony No 5 – with just a hint of Balanchine about it (see the first 48 seconds of this video clip).
The Princess Grace Academy Gala takes place in the Salle Garnier of the Monte-Carlo Opera on 18th and 19th June.
Photographs by Alice Blangero
A version of this article recently appeared in Riviera Buzz