La Belle Époque
Choreography by Richard Bermange
First Performed at Uppingham Theatre, May 2016.
Emerging theatre maker Richard Bermange’s La Belle Époque, while manifestly inspired by the life of Toulouse Lautrec’s muse Jane Avril, is more a generic narrative upon temps perdu, upon the sadness of lost youth. Choreographed upon the Ballet Central dancers of 2016, he created a work that evokes a Paris at the turn of the nineteenth century.
Working closely with composer Philip Feeney, Bermange created a ballet that is through composed, but at specific points falls into moments of striking pas de deux. These are all choreographed to wistful piano solos, never stylistically pastiche but reminiscent of the overall melancholy characteristic of the piano music of that era. This may have come about because in one of the early showings the rain outside the Herbal Hill ballet studios in London helped enrich to the atmosphere. In fact, the rain survived into the score, emphasizing this sense of loneliness.
The Parisian scene is indeed evoked, and even an odd accordion is thrown into the mix, all of which contribute towards a collage, which ultimately disappears into the rain.