Probably completely illogically I felt a surge of regional pride when Jean-Christophe Maillot strode on stage to acknowledge the applause of a London audience for the British premiere of his version of The Taming of the Shrew (see Bolshoi's Triumph - The Taming of the Shrew 4 Aug 2016). Maillot is not of course a Northerner. He is not even English. But he has created what in my very humble, provincial and totally untutored opinion is the best existing work in the 2016 and 2017 season for Northern Ballet. When he came on stage I recognized him from his photo on his web page on the Northern Ballet website.
But even though Maillot is not English he will know all about regions because France has the same cultural, economic, political and social divide between capital and country as we do and he like me is definitely from the country. I suspect a little bit of metropolitan snootiness in some of the comments on his The Taming of the Shrew that were less than ecstatic. Maillot trained in Tours not Paris and he made his name in Hamburg in a country whose capital for many years was Bonn (a city with a population that is not much larger than that of Barnsley). The company of which he is artistic director is in Monte Carlo which is a stiff 9 hour drive from Paris.
Those who want to learn more about Maillot the man can glean some useful info from the Northern Ballet web page that I mentioned above, his web page on Les Ballets de Monte Carlo website and in articles by Judith Mackrell (The Monte-Carlo method: a ballet company's fairytale story 7 April 2014 The Guardian) and Mark Monahan (Jean-Christophe Maillot: 'What about people who don't know about dance?' 19 Apr 2015 Daily Telegraph). There is also the above YouTube interview that I have dug up for those who can still remember their GCSE (or in my case O Level) French.
Those of my readers who missed the Bolshoi's performances or the cinema transmission of The Taming of the Shrew earlier this year (see Competition for Cranko: The Bolshoi's Taming of the Shrew streamed from Moscow 25 Jan 2016) missed a treat. You'll have to fly to Moscow if you want to see it and I am not sure when it will next be performed there. However, you can see his Romeo and Juliet in Canterbury, Woking or Belfast as well as Sheffield and Bradford this autumn (see Northern Ballet's website). And it is worth seeing. Here's what I wrote about it in Northern Ballet's Romeo and Juliet - different but in a good way 8 March 2015 and Leebolt's Juliet 13 March 2015.
Finally, in case you hadn't guessed, Maillot's Shrew is currently leading the field by a length in my ballet of the year stakes despite strong entries from Ted Brandsen, David Dawson and Cathy Marston this year.