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Choreographer Peter Quanz’s evening-length evocation of the torrid romance between famed artists Auguste Rodin and Camille Claudel receives its Winnipeg premiere, performed by Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal. Set to a pastiche score of French and Russian composers, the impassioned artistry and neoclassical choreography beautifully depict the tumultuous and tragic love affair between the genius  sculptors. As the narrative ballet unfurls, Les Grands Ballets’ gorgeous dancers decorate the stage, molded into familiar shapes of Rodin and Claudel sculptures.

“Quanz has seized an ambitious subject and has gone a long way toward proving his mettle as a choreographic storyteller.”
- The Globe and Mail

Rodin/Claudel from Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet on Vimeo

Choreography: Peter Quanz
Music: Hector Berlioz
             Erik Satie
             Francis Poulenc
             Albert Roussel
             Maurice Ravel
             Claude Debussy
             Alfred Schnittke
Musical Consultant: Florian Ziemen
Set and Costume Design: Michael Gianfrancesco
Lighting Design: Marc Parent
Peter Quanz knew he wanted to be a choreographer at age nine. In his first year at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, he was given the opportunity to choreograph for dancers from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Company. After graduating in 1999, he performed with Stuttgart Ballet, but decided to become a freelance choreographer instead. A recipient of the 2005 Clifford E. Lee Award for emerging choreographers, he became the first Canadian to receive a commission from the legendary Kirov Ballet (Mariinsky Theatre, Russia) in 2007. Three years later, he launched his own company, Q Dance. To date, this Ontarian has created some thirty works for some of the world’s leading ballet companies, including Kirov Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Hong Kong Ballet and National Ballet of Cuba.
One of the most iconic artists of the early 20th century with famous pieces including: “The Kiss” and “The Thinker” Rodin was doing fabulous work in France, but was losing inspiration. He then drew inspiration from his young assistant, Claudel who worked on the hands and feet of his sculptures and would offer him her feedback and new ideas. 

Camille was one of the most important female sculptors of the early 20th century. Her works have an enduring place in the world of art. Women did not have the same opportunities as men in this era, and Claudel was discouraged from a career in art. Her relationship with Claudel, who was 24 years her senior, afforded her an opportunity to learn and also access to studio space and working materials. Their relationship spanned over many years and was very complex.
Auguste Rodin and Camille Claudel are born out of a mound of bodies, of clay, of ideas. Their lives are marked from the beginning for creation.

The Claudel family sweeps into Camille’s studio. The overbearing Madame Claudel demands that Camille create a sculpture of her younger brother, Paul. Camille has to remind her brother to sit still so that she can observe him. Their fun is interrupted when Auguste enters the studio. Paul has invited him to look at Camille’s works. Auguste remembers the chill of his own studios when he was beginning his career. Auguste blindfolds himself so that he is free to touch and feel the shapes of Camille’s sculptures with his hands rather than look at them. After he has sensed her work, he turns, still blindfolded, and has his first contact with Camille – running his hands over her face. When Auguste leaves Camille’s studio, he is met by Rose Beuret, his longtime mistress. She is concerned that he was upstairs so long with the young artist. Rose desires Auguste’s affection but must settle for the warmth of his coat as he leaves her alone on the street.

Paul aspires to be a diplomat and writer. Desperate to make a name for himself, he pleads with Auguste for introductions to influential people who can help him. Auguste agrees, out of pity and a desire to continue his relationship with Camille.

Work on the Gates of Hell is progressing well at Auguste’s studio. Many artisans have been employed, and they carry out the master sculptor’s orders. Auguste enters and tries to conceive of a new idea with his models, but nothing satisfies him. Camille enters, ready to work as an artisan. She suggests an idea to Auguste and soon finds herself the model for a series of his works. Auguste and Camille become intimately entangled. Everyone in the studio, including Rose, can sense the new relationship between the two sculptors.

The Claudel family invites Auguste and Rose on a family picnic. Underlying tensions stir and lead to a confrontation between Rose, Camille and Auguste. Camille knows she is pregnant with Auguste’s child, but she doesn’t tell him. She demands that Auguste choose between her and Rose. He is unable to make a choice and runs out.


Camille believes that as a single woman, she has no alternative but to have an abortion. She checks herself into a hospital that is willing to perform the illegal and very expensive procedure. Intensely emotional after the operation, Camille fantasizes about her work. She sees bodies, sculptures and movement.

Camille sets up her sculptures for an exhibition of her work. Paul creeps in and suggests that she clean up before the opening. When the guests arrive, Paul shows off his sister’s work, but his mind is focused on social climbing. There is a stunned silence when Camille makes a flashy entrance in an outrageous red dress. The snobs ridicule her, sniffing that Camille can only imitate Auguste’s style and expression. This infuriates Camille. Still reeling from her failed relationship with Auguste and the loss of her child, she smashes her own sculptures in a rage.

Auguste quietly watches Camille’s destruction. He tries to calm her, but she is too unpredictable and wild for him to manage. Paul returns with a doctor and nurses from the hospital. Camille is restrained and led away–devoured by her own ideas, thoughts and creativity. Auguste is left with Rose at his side to ponder Camille’s fate and her place in his life.

CBC News Winnipeg    CBC One


Photo Gallery Photo Gallery

Mar 4, 2014, 7:30pm  Eve
Mar 5, 2014, 7:30pm  Eve

Centennial Concert Hall
555 Main Street

Map Parking Accessibility

Act I - 46 minutes

Intermission - 20 minutes

Act II - 36 minutes



Les Grands Ballet



Emilie Durville, Marcin Kaczorowski Photo: Damian Siqueiros



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