What is it? A classical and neoclassical ballet troupe from Switzerland.
Why see it? They've been hailed as unaffected, a compliment in a sea of over-indulged, over-dramatized performance. This troupe comes stateside with fresh choreography, but enough history to back it up. The Grand Theatre de Geneve has served Switzerland as a structure and as an institution since 1876. One of the pieces at Spoleto, Loin, combines song, speech, and dance.
Who should go? Ask yourself: Of these items, what haven't I liked? Swiss chocolate? Swiss army knife? Swiss Miss? Swiss dancers from Geneva? Mmm. Coming from that lineage, you can't not like these people.
SPOLETO FESTIVAL USA • $10-$65 • 1 hour 45 min. • May 31, June 1 at 8 p.m.; June 1 at 2 p.m. • Gaillard Municipal Auditorium, 77 Calhoun St. • (843) 579-3100
Philippe Cohen, director of the Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève, takes the review of his troupe's performance in The New York Times seriously.
The Times called the company "unaffected," complimenting the Swiss aesthetic Cohen employs; something other, more overly dramatic dance troupes lack. Cohen is not surprised.
"This is managed by a simple way of expressing a sincerity and humility in the engagement of each dancer," he says.
Simple enough. He believes his troupe has found a way to balance the work itself and the audience's understanding.
"It is the responsibility of each dancer to know why they are on stage and to interpret the choreography to the best of their ability," he says.
Ballet du Grand Théâtre's performance, composed of three works, offers a varied contemporary ballet trifecta.
"The program that we will bring to Spoleto has toured most of the world with enormous success," Cohen says. "We hope that Charleston will be touched by the humanity and generosity of the dancers and choreographers."
Para-Dice, designed by Japanese choreographer Saburo Teshigawara, is a reflection on paradise. The musical choices are a combination of pop and classical pieces. Dancers' movements are lit by shifting colors.
The second piece, Loin, is a reflection of the dancers' 12 nationalities, including Cohen's — he's from Belgium but was born in Morocco. Depicting the dancers' own lives, Loin is the interpretation of a ballerina's life on the road. "This diverse ensemble of cultures has created something original and poetic rarely seen on stage," Cohen says.
Ballet du Grande closes with Selon Désir, a dance created by Greek choreographer Andonis Foniadakis and set to Bach's St. Matthew Passion and St. John Passion. In the piece, the dancers' intertwined bodies express the pain of extreme exaltation. It's a heavy closer that Cohen suggests proves the diversity of his company's skills. Just like Loin, "The construction of the piece is very intelligent and is a pure joy to watch," he says. "This piece integrates all aspects of theatrical entertainment." —Kinsey Labberton
Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève • Spoleto Festival USA • 1 hour 45 min. • $10-$65 • May 31, June 1 at 8 p.m.; June 1 at 2 p.m. • Gaillard Municipal Auditorium• 77 Calhoun St. • (843) 579-3100