Ballet shoe cubby holes backstage at the L’Atelier des Ballets, the home of the Ballets de Monte Carlo.
Just before London Fashion Week kicked off, I took a sneaky two days to visit Monaco, lured this time by the promise of a private atelier performance by Les Ballets de Monte Carlo, just before they embarked on a mini world tour. (They’ll be dancing Lac in London at The Coliseum from 9-12 April.)
We arrived at Nice Airport in torrential rain, although it would take more than a little bad weather to take the shine off the glamour of a helicopter flight across the border to Monaco. The visibility was poor, as we flew through the rain storm, over the sea.
Suspending any morbid thoughts, it was a glorious experience. Airbound before we had even realised it, the journey took a scant seven minutes to the Helipad in Monaco and, swooping in over the sea, we landed gently, sadly looking at the rain. (Luckily, as you can see from the photo at top, on day two we had the most glorious weather.)
It was already late afternoon, so we checked into our hotel, the Novotel Monaco, and changed for our evening at L’Atelier des Ballets, the home of the Ballets de Monte Carlo, and their renowned choreographer-director Jean-Christophe Maillot.
Before the performance started, we were given a private tour backstage.
And then, joyfully, we were led into the ballet shoe room.
Each dancer has a cubby hole, and can get through a pair of shoes every three days. Mostly these came from Freed of London.
Upstairs, there were costumes from former ballets on display.
And in the atrium the costumes for the evening’s performance of Lac were hanging on rails for the cast.
Jean-Christophe Maillot gave an engaging talk to the audience before the performance in the atelier space. It was curiously intimate, given that there was no orchestra pit, and that the dancers were warming up behind him.
After two hours of extraordinary ballet, we came back down to earth with dinner at Nobu in the Fairmont Monte-Carlo, with Jean Francois Gourdon, Communications Director for the Monaco Tourist Authority, who filled us in on all things Monegasque.
Supper done, we headed to the Buddha Bar, a former concert hall, restored and re-gilded with pilasters and cornices beneath an extraordinary 7-metre high ceiling.
Here I am lurking outside.
after a few of these cocktails.
Although the spirit was willing, the flesh was weak, and we headed back to our hotel after our drinks, walking through the Place du Casino.
Monte Carlo at night is a wonderful thing.
Enormous thanks to Société des Bains de Mer de Monaco, Novotel Monaco, Monaco Tourist Authority and everyone at Les Ballets de Monte Carlo for their kind hospitality.