Boléro Malandain / Ravel


Subjected to the obsessive of the orchestral theme by Ravel, twelve dancers perform almost soullessly in an enclosed and limited space. When sounds the liberting finale, they break free, plunging into silence.

Commissioned by the Russian dancer Ida Rubinstein, a friend and patron to Maurice Ravel, this « Spanish character ballet » was created by the Rubinstein, a friend company at the Paris Opera with a choreography by Bronislava Nijinska on the 22nd November 1928. In the synopsis, the action took place in an andalusian tavern, where a gypsy dancing on a table provoked sensual euphoria amongst men. I departed from this storyline, updated by Maurice Béjart in 1961, to only focus on the musical motive that Maurice Ravel repeats in an obsessive way until the final apotheosis. The composer made no secret of the « music-sexual » style of this orchestral crescendo and finale.

Instead of showing this erotic parallel, I chose to represent the liberty gradually won from confinement and took the challenge to confine the performers in an enclosed and limited space. This limit exists in the uniqueness and the mechanical repetition of the musical theme, which literally explodes in an intense finale, followed by silence, when dancers find themselves « locked outside ».

Thierry Malandain


created on 19th May 2001
at la Gare du Midi de Biarritz

music Maurice Ravel
choerography Thierry Malandain
set and costumes Jorge Gallardo
lighting design Jean-Claude Asquié

coproduced by Festival International Madrid en Danza, Malandain Ballet Biarritz

duration of the entire ballet 15’

ballet for 12 dancers



« Malandain’s Bolero is an amazing tour de force [...] his relentless choreography dirves them to the required fevered pitch. They are a magnificent « body of bodies » as they build the tension to a blazing finish. »

Backstage, November 2002, Phyllis Goldman

« Bolero was the pinnacle, a great ballet alone, can endure Ravel’s strenuous rhythm. […] »

Diario de Noticias, 5th December 2002, Teobaldos

« Bolero : a beautiful and strong choreography, interpreted by a company dancing wholeheartedly and vibrating as one. »

Criticaldance.com / International, 12th January 2003