Scaramouche @en
21 Jun 2010

It was Paris Opéra dance director Brigitte Lefèvre that thought I was best placed to create a ballet based on composer Darius Milhaud’s Scaramouche for the Opéra’s dance school. With a free hand, I reunited Scaramouche with the “Commedia dell’arte,” mixing in a series of repertory ballets that Elisabeth Platel’s dance school pupils dreamed of dancing one day.

Josseline Le Bourhis assisted me with the historical research. Then I visited the dance school in Nanterre to select the dancers that I would work with. I observed them from behind the studios’ windows and then saw them waiting for me with a happy undercurrent of excitement, practicing their pirouettes, clowning around and letting their imaginations run wild! And so I decided to show things as they were, to show what happens before a dance course. The Scaramouche ballet became a dreamy getaway into the imaginations of the pupils before they embrace once again on the discipline of dance training.

This was the first ballet I created for young children. To get to know them better, I set up choreographic workshops as I would have done with professional dancers. During these sessions, I ask them to improvise movements associated with a theme or a musical passage. As the days passed, they shed their initial reserve and unleashed their creativity. In my ballet, I integrated the most interesting of their proposals. My ballet follows the pattern of classical ballets: act one presents the characters as the plot unfolds; act two opens to a dreamlike world and serves as a placeholder; and the final act entertains. All modes of expression have their place in the piece: pantomime, repertory dance, fantasies or improvisations developed in the spirit of the Commedia dell’arte, as well as voice and musical instruments. All the characters from Italian comedy are recognizable through their costumes, except Scaramouche, who deviates from his usual role. For the costumes, Agnès Letestu transformed the historical characters of the Commedia dell’arte using contemporary forms and fabrics, while preserving historical details. For instance, Harlequin’s costume combines a customary little ruffled collar with a suit made from denim.

  • Idea, choreography and scenography: José Carlos Martinez
  • Assistant choreographer:  Béatrice Martel
  • Music: Darius Milhaud (Scaramouche 1937) – additional music Camille Saint-Saëns, Piotr Ilyitch Tchaikovski, Ludwig Minkus, and selected “Bulerias” rthyms.
  • Musical preparation: Scott Alan Prouty
  • Piano and musical arrangement:  Vessela Pelovska, Michel Dietlin
  • Costumes: Agnès Letestu
  • Lighting: Marc Anrochte
  • Premier: March 26, 2005  – Ecole de Danse de l’Opéra National de Paris – Palais Garnier
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