Italian designer Riccardo Tisci, a graduate from London’s Central Saint Martins Academy, has been Givenchy’s Creative Director for the last eight years. His first ballet costumes were seen last night in Marina Abramovic’s take on Boléro. Belgian choreographers Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Damien Jalet were responsible for the dance, but it was Abramovic’s concept, and set design. This coming together was organised by the Paris Opera Ballet as part of a multiple programme, and features top dancers Aurélie Dupont and Marie-Agnès Gillot.
Abramovic created an all-black scenography, with a suspended mirror panel to duplicate the 11 dancers, providing an excellent frame for Tisci’s costumes.
It is one of the dreams of a designer to design costumes for a ballet. I have had offers in the past from many other big theaters/operas. But I never felt ready. When this one came along, I felt it was the moment to say yes for many reasons. First, being Italian, I am very proud to have been asked to create costumes by Brigitte Lefèvre, director of danse at Paris’ national Opera which is the biggest opera theater in the world and it is such an iconic institution in France. Second, because it is the Bolero. The project is amazing because it is made by a group of unique people with great talent, from the set design by Marina Abramovic to choreography by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Damien Jalet.
The unisex outfit consists of a long black cape and flowing dress made of nude tulle. Underneath are skin-tone cat suits embroidered with white lace to mimic the human skeleton. The lace motif is echoed in swirling black motifs on the dancers faces.
Bolero is all about intensity! The music has such an intense feeling. I wanted the dancers to feel naked somehow. The costumes express two sides of me: darkness and romanticism. The dancers wear nude catsuits in illusion tulle embroidered with white lace forming a skeleton. They shed several layers as they dance just like the life cycle of animals or flowers losing their petals. They become these moving skeletons, strong and fragile at the same time.
For Abramovic this ballet collaboration has been a new experience too.
In my work, everything is completely under control, but the interesting thing when you collaborate with someone is that you have to give up a part of yourself – that is, the ‘I’.
The ballet continues at the Opéra Garnier un 3 June.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.