"Zarathusta is the Coronation of my Career!"
probably is the most famous choreographer in France. Like
most great artists, Béjart is
certainly a man of contradictions. He's been often criticized for his often bold
ballet compositions and many experts tend to think that his best ballets are the
ones he did in the 50s and 70s, but most admit that he helped ballet become more
popular. His companies included many great dancers such as Jorge Donn, Daniel
Lommel, Gil Roman; others, such as Paolo Bortoluzzi or Suzanne Farrell. He was
also to greatly contribute to the Persian Ballet
Repertoire in the late 60's and 70's performing at the famous Roudaki Hall
in Tehran created under the supervision of the former Empress of Iran, Shahbanou
Farah Pahlavi. One of the highlights of his contributions to Iranian Ballet was
the creation of two consecutive ballets during the Persepolis Celebrations of
1971. One based on the Golestan Sa'adi with Iranian musicians Nur Ali Brumand, Nourredin RAZAVI Sarvestan & Dariush
TALA'I and another with the same
musicians called Farah in tribute to the Shahbanou. The latter was once again
used for Béjarts 1995 ballet Scherehazad. (See French review of Farah ). Greatly influenced by his trip to
Iran after which he converted to
Islam after meeting a Sufi Kurdish musician which he admits had the greatest artistic and spiritual
influence in his career. This probably explains some of Béjarts initial
enthusiasm for the Islamic Revolution of 1979 despite his personal sympathies
and friendship with the Iranian Royal Family and Empress Farah in particular.
The excesses of the Islamic revolution and the shock of September
11th which has bad named Islam certainly shook the spiritual
convictions of the famed ballet Maestro. His spiritual and philosophical quest
has led him to the creation of a new Ballet which performed its premiere amidst
standing ovation and cheers last December in Lausanne Switzerland.
Maurice Béjart presents new ballet Zarathustra is based
German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche's
Zarathoustra. Le chant de la danse aka Zarathustra. the song of the
dance the scarcely two-hour ballet for 50 dancers is based on works of
Friedrich Nietzsche's, particularly his book "thus spoke Zarathustra". Béjart
called the work the coronation of his occupation of many years with the German
philosopher - the premiere public followed this opinion. When the 78 year old
Béjart stepped on the stage, he was cheered by a standing ovation of
approximately 2400 spectators which lasted several minutes.
"Zarathustra" , Béjart seems to have united all constant themes of his work with
topics such as love, death and war.
His work moves technically between the classical period and avant-garde. With
this piece Béjart considers he has achieved his vision of "total theatre", in
which language, music, dance and direction join a complete work flow
not nothing to do with the teachings of the historical namesake and religious
known as Zartosht in Persian, Nietzsche's "Zarathustra" is considered as a
controversial yet important philosophical work of the late 19th
century. Scholars are divided as to exact interpretation of Nietzsche's work.
Some see him as a promoter of the totalitarian ideas of the 20th
century, others consider him as a critic of religious thought.
has also been subject to several other music compositions prior to Nietzsche.
The French composer Rameau wrote an opera
called "Zoroastre" and the free-thinking Mozart used a variant of the name
for his character Sarastro in "The Magic Flute;" Sarastro is the priest of the
Sun and Light who defeats the Queen of the Night. But it is certainly the German
composer Richard Strauss, who inspired by the Nietzsche work, wrote Also
Sprach Zarathustra by Strauss the tone-poem of the same name, which became
famous in 1968 as the theme for the Stanley Kubrick's film 2001 - 'A Space Odyssey. '
Maurice Béjart Ballet performs at Roudaki Hall Tehran
Béjarts claims his work is not only a tribute to Nietzsche's and the dance, but also
an hymn at Richard Wagner and Ludwig van Beethoven. Nietzsche's, and Wagner were
friends had the German philosopher praised music as the ultimate art form. "I
call Wagner the largest benefactor of my life." Say's Béjart. His ballets also
contains works of Italian composer Vivaldi as well as Iranian music
Shahbanou Farah Pahlavi of Iran and Maurice Béjart
at the Shiraz Festival
Maurice Béjart concludes his Ballets, not by quoting Nietzsche, but Beethoven in
what looks like also a tribute to one of Persia's
greatest Poets Sa'adi. All 50 dancers closed in line up and member
on the stage to meet, the hands towards skies stretched with Beethoven's music
composition "Ode to Joy" : "all humans become brothers and sisters on this
incredible creation of God."
See Official website of Maurice Bejart
Future Performances of
2nd - 6th
of May 2006 Palais des Sports Tickets www.ticketnet.fr
Brussels 11th-14th of
Forest National www.forestnational.be
Iranian Ballet during contemporary era by Nima Kiann founder of Ballets Persans in
About the Author: Darius KADVIAR is a
Freelance Journalist born to a French Mother and Iranian Father.