In this ballet built on fragility and impossible caresses, Jean-Christophe Maillot seeks strategically to distance the original text by Longus and Ravel’s arguments in order to concentrate essentially on ways in which the body behaves and the affective and emotional attitude of said body patterns. Through two beings that tremble at the lightest touch, the choreographer relates the progress of an initiation into love that remains thwarted through to its accomplishment.
This Daphnis and Chloe places its trust in the universal and confirms Maillot’s desire to draw on life itself to find gestures that bring us together. Conniving with reality in this way immediately establishes a connection with the audience. It casts the spectator back in an instant to the first time they experienced desire; it reactivates the alchemical emotions that gushed from that burning, confusing apprenticeship.
A further original aspect of importance is collaboration with Ernest Pignon-Ernest. Throughout the ballet, the hand of the visual artist accompanies the two young lovers, gripped by the furies of carnal de- sire, as they progress along a path riddled with pitfalls. Ernest Pignon-Ernest has worked with Jean-Christophe Maillot on many occasions. But here, for the first time, he contributes not only as stage de- signer, but also as an artist, giving form in his drawings to the curve of a shoulder, the turn of a neck or the flight of a hand. In this ballet, the choreographer and the visual artist do not restrict themselves exclusively to serving the story and the performance; they both embrace their autonomy in a piece that is fragile and hard and that endeavours to come to life gracefully before our eyes.