The last dance event of the 2002 Romaeuropa Festival was the Italian première of Babelle heureuse, staged by Compagnie Montalvo-Hervieu. Babelle heureuse, created just this year by Montalvo and Hervieu, is the result of their collaboration with the Iranian musicians Saeid Shanbehzadeh and Habib Meftahbousheheri, who perform onstage with the dancers. The music is very important in this work, because it connects the different actions together: all the dancers sing and the musicians dance.
This ballet mixes all genres in equal measure; they coexist on the stage with an effect that is pleasing and funny at the same time. There’s hip-hop, en pointe ballet, contemporary dance, acrobatic dance, contortionism and short intermezzos that are recited and sung. The backdrop is a screen on which funny still or moving images (e.g., ducks, juicy details of Reuben’s Venus, the dancers themselves) are projected; the artists interact with them, at times actually seeming to emerge from or enter the screen itself. Some of the pieces are simply hilarious. The score is a mixture of genres too: traditional Persian music performed live is interspersed with Bach, Vivaldi and even several Mozart arias.
The whole is extremely enjoyable and captivating. The show was wholly enjoyable, ironic, without a dull moment. Laughs were frequent, the artists were all excellent and fun, and were rewarded with very warm applause. Needless to say, all performances were sold out.