Van Cleef & Arpels
Prize for Ballet 2021


12 / 11

Les Saltimbanques

Ballet du Capitole

Picasso et la danse : Les Saltimbanques

In their wandering existence, the crazy hearts of the tribe of acrobats, inspired by Picasso, perform acts on the circus ring, juggling between amazing jumps and laughable frailty: who are they?


Kader Belarbi loves painting, a passion that inspires his work as a choreographer. At the origin of Les Saltimbanques is the painting of the "Family of Saltimbanques", which deeply moves him. When he discovered it in the Washington museum, the painting came to life for him. He wanted to create a ballet inspired by the atmosphere of this painting: a ballet that shed light on the other side of the set and brings together circus people, as recurring and singular characters in Picasso's work.

This ballet will not be narrative but a sequence of « collage » where scenes and acts follow one another, juggling between light and shadow. It is not, however, a circus work: it is a transposition, an evocation through the choreographic gesture. 

Nevertheless, Kader Belarbi wishes to contrast the glorious leaps of ballet, by working, for example, on the ethereal flight of the ballerinas, the prodigious jumps of the dancers as well as their falls. This fragility of the acrobat-dancer, balancing between grace and fall, defying gravity but also the harshness of a wandering life with its uncertainties of the next day, is of course that of our human condition, and echoes the current crisis and pandemic that artists and so many people have to face.

For the music, the accordion, the « piano with straps », a popular instrument from the street, will play perfumes from the past as well as contemporary compositions. The musician is himself a saltimbanque. For everyone speaks, dances, sings, plays and participates in everything in a process of daily gestures that leads to the performance.

Our intention is to stage the heart and body of a dancer in the circus world: to lay bare the human truth of achievement, fall, derision and life - as opposed to the bluffing society of speed and technology. This choreography is an ode to live performance, made of flesh, blood and sweat, for an extra dose of soul. The opposite of virtual reality.

Artistic Team

Kader BELARBI has set up a project team that combines excellence and gender diversity.

Coralie LÈGUEVAQUE, French set designer
Elsa PAVANEL, French costume designer
Sylvain CHEVALLOT, French lighting designer
Sergio TOMASSI, French accordionist and composer


Coralie Lèguevaque

Set Designer


Elsa Pavanel

Costume Designer


Sylvain Chevallot

Lighting Designer

Sergio Tomassi

Sergio Tomassi


Co-producing Partners



Rial & Eshelman

Rial & Eshelman



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