Ann Marie Nemanich in Monte Carlo, Monaco

Opening Night in Monte Carlo


After watching the company work tirelessly over the past three days in Monaco to bring to life Alonzo’s vision of Scheherazade, I was as anxious as anyone to see what would unfold before us on the Monte Carlo stage. This premiere was especially challenging. There are certain challenges one expects when premiering a new work. And certain challenges one expects premiering a new work on the road, in a foreign country with a foreign language. In this case in particular we were dealt one more challenge — we were given only one and one half days in the theatre prior to the opening to do the work that generally takes us three days. Smooshing 72 hours into 36 is pretty Herculean in my opinion, especially when working with a French speaking crew. So I can imagine I wasn’t the only one walking to the theatre a little anxious that evening.

As I entered the lobby of the theatre I immediately ran into one of our French agents — stopping to say my hellos he introduced me to one of the Grimaldi Forum theatre personnel. She couldn’t wait to inform me that ticket sales were doing extremely well, in fact with such a large theatre they rarely sell out, but as of that afternoon they were 90% sold with brisk sales continuing throughout the day. She seemed exceptionally pleased.

As I walked into the theatre I joined several of our San Francisco supporters, Amy and Harry Schoening, Cheryl Polk and Denise Bradley. They had all traveled to Monte Carlo to be on hand for this special occasion.

Taking our seats, the curtain was delayed for several minutes as the crowd continued to stream in and special guests arrived. The theatre seats 1200 in the main orchestra section and a special box for the royal family.

Finally at 8:40 the curtain rose to Dust and Light, Alonzo’s work that premiered at Yerba Buena Theatre in Spring 2008. It was a flawless performance, except for one small detail — the sound engineer opened with the wrong track of music. On stage performing was a lone Caroline, but she didn’t flinch, she continued dancing as if this was exactly what she was expecting. No one but the LINES Company noticed the music mix-up; the audience was already riveted to the performance.

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Dust and Light again after so long, but to be honest I couldn’t wait to see the work we had been striving to bring to the stage for over a year — Scheherazade.

And finally it began. This was one of the most elaborate pieces LINES has put together with regards to lighting, sets, music and costumes, not to mention the movement that Alonzo is commanding from his dancers. With so many months of anticipating and working towards this moment I couldn’t wonder if my expectations might be too high. Although I saw bits and pieces during the creation process, not until the curtain rises on opening night do you see the final work of art.

The work didn’t disappoint.

The audience cheered. Those that know Alonzo’s work described it as capturing the essence and story of the original Scheherazade yet being truly Alonzo.

As always the dancers gave their all, the pas with Laurel and Brett left the audience breathless, the finale was exhilarating and the sets were so rich they transported me to another world. Robert’s visual creativity continues to impress.

Following a standing ovation we were invited to the Opening Night reception given by Jean-Christophe Maillot, the artistic director of the Ballet Monte Carlo. The who’s who of the Monte Carlo ballet along with presenters from around Europe were on hand to congratulate. When the dancers made their appearance at the reception the party once more stood and applauded. A night of pure celebration.

More details to follow with the upcoming blogs, for now it is well past 2:00 am and tomorrow we begin again — minus any anxieties.

Written by Executive Director Ann Marie Nemanich.