For two weeks legendary ballerina Monique Loudières has been in Houston, coaching dancers performing as the Sugar Plum Fairy. Soloist Nao Kusuzaki gives an update on what she has learned from this remarkable teacher.
Amy Fote in Ben Stevenson’s The Nucracker. Photo Amitava Sarkar
Guest writer: Soloist Nao Kusuzaki
“Take pleasure in your dancing”, Monique Loudières reminded me during a recent sugarplum fairy rehearsal. She is our newest guest teacher to join the Houston Ballet for 2 weeks, teaching morning classes and coaching the sugarplum fairies and princes. Petite in size but full of energy, Monique’s presence is luminescent. She brings with her a wealth of knowledge in time for the the Nutcracker to open on November 25th. This week was especially exciting. Along with our family of ballet masters, Damian Welch, Stanton Welch’s brother is here teaching the men and coaching for the Jubilee as well as The Nutcracker, Ben Stevenson is here to oversee the Nutcracker, and Monique takes care of the morning classes and the Grand Pas de Deux rehearsals. Yes, it’s true the Nutcracker happens every year, and yes, this one is particularly invigorating. With all of the staff and the fiercely talented dancers, each of the 12 casts are dancing with their own delicious blend of spices. You really want to come see all 12 sets.
Our special guest from France, Monique Loudières, danced from 1972 to 1996 with the Paris Opera Ballet, where she was appointed Danseuse Ètoile in 1982. She danced leading roles in all of the major classical works. Her favorites include dramatic characters in Mat Ek’s and traditional Giselle, Manon, Eugene Onegin, and Romeo and Juliet, along with a large number of ballets by master choreographers in the neoclassic and contemporary repertoire (Balanchine, Lifar, Kylián, Béjart, Ek and Neumeier). She was handpicked by Rudolph Nureyev to dance the role of Kitri in Don Quixote, and they danced together on many occasions. Her special partners also include Manuel Legris, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Fernando Bujones, to name a few.
After a steller career at the Paris Opera and as international guest artist, Monique Loudières was artistic and pedagogical director at l’Ecole Supérieure de Danse Rosella Hightower in Cannes till 2009.
In 1996, she was awarded the title Commandeur des Arts et Lettres. She was recently named Officier dans l’Ordre du Mérite National.
Ballet fans can still see her dance on DVD:
Rudolph Nureyev’s Romeo and Juliet (Opera National de Paris)
Comme les Oiseaux
Translates into English as “like a bird” and applies to Monique Loudières. A biographical documentary by director Dominique Delouche. Delouche shot much of the performance footage at the Paris Opera, where she interprets selections from works including Giselle, Don Quixote, and In the Night.
Yvette Chauvire: France’s Prima Ballerina Assoluta
Monique Loudières dances Nauteos in the film
When I asked about her impression of the company, she replied, “This company has positive energy to work, and positive energy together. This kind of energy, day by day in class is a very good way to work. Because they are serious workers, as a result, dancers are ready very quickly.” She adds, “Even within the class, there is progress. When they repeat the exercise again, I see that they understand. I see improvement….. This is a gift for me–to receive this positive energy and to rediscover through teaching.”
“I learned so much from these wonderful people in my career, and I think I can help use it for dancers’ future and for classical ballet– to be more articulate in their movement and have freedom, even in classical ballets. Always ask “what does it mean?” what can I do, what can I say. what does it mean for me.Take the freedom to feel first. When you are aware, you’re prepared to work with any choreographer.”