Ms. Gillot’s first choreographic attempts were in collaboration with her boyfriend at the time, Jiri Bubenicek, principal of the Czech-born Dresden Opera Ballet. After some success with these pieces at festivals and galas, Olivier Meyer, director of the Théâtre de Surènes (and husband of Mrs. Lefèvre), invited her to create a piece for a group of hip-hop dancers.
Madame Gillot’s general fearlessness came to the fore. “Why not?” she says. “I’ve always loved hip-hop.
Ms. Lefèvre’s commission is far larger in scale than any of the pieces – a flash mob, a piece for the Paris Conservatoire, duets for television – that Ms. Gillot has produced since. It has gone from small groups to 19 dancers, from minimal productions to an elaborate work, set to music by Bruckner, Morton Feldman and Ligeti (the musical dramaturgy is by Laurence Equilibey), with striking sets by Olivier Mosset and costumes by surrealist inspiration of Walter Van Beirendonck.
Most surprisingly, she placed men, as well as women, center stage for the entire play. (Mme Gillot herself does not dance in “Sous Apparence”.)
“I’m a big fan of restraints,” Ms Gillot said, when asked if this was a feminist commentary on the role of women in ballet. “I think that’s what gives you freedom in the end. And there, I wanted to explore the idea of a point man in a way that was not parodic, but as a purely choreographic idea. In a way, alongside a work by Cunningham, I also wanted to mark the history of dance — it will be the first time that this will be done here. ”
Mrs. Gillot knows everything about constraints; due to severe scoliosis, she spent many of her school years in a neck-to-hip corset when not dancing. It’s all in “Under Appearance,” she added.
“The ballet is in many ways autobiographical,” she said. “The whole piece is an act of resistance.”