Home > Companies > JOSÉ MONTALVO


José Montalvo, Artistic Director

While studying history of art and visual arts, José Montalvo learned to dance with American choreographer Jerome Andrews and with Françoise and Dominique Dupuy, followers of the "expressionist" choreographer Jean Weidt. He danced for their company Les Ballets Modernes de Paris and added to his training by taking part in workshops with Carolyn Carlson, Lucinda Childs, Alwin Nikolais and Merce Cunningham. José Montalvo began by directing short, amusing pieces that were like choreographic aphorisms or fleeting emotional miniature-stories told through dance. He won various international awards in Nyon (1986), Paris (1987) and Cagliari (1988). His pieces were performed by Dominique Hervieu, marking the beginning of an artistic adventure and a solid working relationship that would produce the Montalvo-Hervieu Company in 1988.

In 1989, José Montalvo began exploring a new avenue, creating events in situ with Les Danses à Voir et à Danser. In 1993, he took part in Arts Étonnants at the Théâtre National de Chaillot during the Paris quartier d'été Summer Festival. That same year, he and videographer Michel Coste created Double Trouble. Since then, with the assistance of Dominique Hervieu, José Montalvo produced a series of works. Each stands alone, but when taken together, dialogue with one another: Hollaka Hollala (1994), La Gloire de Jérôme A. (1996), Pilhaou Thibaou (1996), Les Surprises de Mnémosyne (1996), La Mitrailleuse en état de grâce (1997), Paradis (1997), Le Jardin Io Io Ito Ito (1999), and Babelle Heureuse (2002). In 1999 he wrote Le Rire de la lyre for the principal dancers of the Paris Opera. In 1998, José Montalvo and Dominique Hervieu were appointed as directors of the Créteil and Val-de-Marne National Dance Centre. In 2000, José Montalvo also became dance director for the Théâtre National de Chaillot. In 2001 in London, he and Dominique Hervieu received a Laurence Olivier Award for best dance production of the year for Le Jardin Io Io Ito Ito. In 2004, he and Dominique Hervieu wrote the choreography and staged Jean-Philippe Rameau's opera Les Paladins at the Théâtre du Châtelet, with William Christie of Les Arts Florissants as music director. Les Paladins opened to unanimous national and international critical acclaim and was nominated in 2005 for a Laurence Olivier Award in the Best New Opera Production category. It received the award for best recording of an opera performance in Prague for François Roussillon's film; the 2006 audiovisual and DVD Grand Prix from the Académie Charles Cros; and the 2006 Diapason d'Or for the best DVD. In 2005, On danƒe received an enthusiastic welcome from both critics and audiences.

In 2006, José Montalvo and Dominique Hervieu were awarded the SACD's* choreography prize. In 2008, they paid tribute to George Gershwin, with a diptych comprising two highly contrasting works: Porgy and Bess, to thunderous applause and rave press reviews; and Good Morning, Mr. Gershwin. In June 2008, José Montalvo and Dominique Hervieu became directors of the Théâtre National de Chaillot where they created Orphée, in May 2010. Lalala Gershwin, a variation on Good Morning, Mr. Gershwin, opened in autumn 2010 at Chaillot and was their final co-creation before Dominique Hervieu joined the Maison de la Danse in Lyon and the Lyon Biennial, leaving Chaillot.

José Montalvo remains at the Théâtre National de Chaillot as permanent artist working alongside Didier Deschamps, the current director. He created Don Quichotte du Trocadéro in 2013, shown again on Chaillot's stage in 2014. He received a prize for the best foreign show in Italy, during the ceremony for the Maschere del Teatro Italiano. In 2014, he created a show for younger audience called Asa Nisi Masa. 


© Patrick Berger




Y Olé !

Choreography, scenography and video design : José Montalvo

Light design : Gilles Durand, Vincent Paoli

Artistic contribution : Mélinda Muset-Cissé

Artistic contributor to the video : Sylvain Decay, Pascal Minet

Computer graphics : Sylvain Decay, Clio Gavagni, Michel Jaen Montalvo

With : 16 performers

Length : 70 minutes

Production Théâtre National de Chaillot

Coproduction Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg



José Montalvo's statement 

"We will place an Egyptian figure next to a little Zeh [drawing] [one of Munich artist Auguste Zeh's children], a Chinese work beside a Rousseau, a folk print beside a Picasso and a lot of things like that!, wrote Kandinsky to his brother Marc about the mood that should accompany the birth of the Almanach der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider). Picasso's painting, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon and Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring are often linked as two great iconic works of modernity. This new piece that I am working on is a choreographic diptych in which I wanted to place a folk print next to a Picasso painting, pop songs next to a Stravinsky work.


The piece will consist of two highly distinct musical sections that bend the categories of high culture and popular culture without melding or confusing them. Two sections that are intentionally heterogeneous, as our life can be sometimes. In the same day, we will listen to baroque music in the morning, rock or hip hop in the afternoon, and feel bowled over as we come away from a performance of classical or contemporary music. For me, embracing this mix of genres is a way to think about and feel the world. To play around with no bias with the elite and mass cultures to make way for the requirement of invention. 



GLORIA, La vie est une fête

Choreography, scenography and video design José Montalvo

Artistic contribution to the choreography : Joëlle Iffrig

Light design: Didier Brun

Sound : Pipo Gomes

Costumes : Agnès d'At, Anne Lorenzo

Artistic contribution to the  video: Sylvain Decay, Franck Lacourt

Artistic collaboration: Sylvain Decay, Clio Gavagni, Michel Jaen Montalvo

Performed by: Karim Ahansal dit Pépito, Michael Arnaud, Rachid Aziki dit ZK Flash, Nadège Blagone dit Sellou, Eléonore Dugué, Serge Dupont Tsakap, Fran Espinosa, Samuel Florimond dit Magnum, Elizabeth Gahl, Rocío Garcia, Florent Gosserez dit Acrow, Rosa Herrador, Dafra Keita, Chika Nakayama, Beatriz Santiago, Denis Sithadé Ros dit Sitha


Production Maison des Arts et de la Culture de Créteil. Coproduction Chaillot - Théâtre national de la Danse; Le Channel, scène nationale de Calais (volet participatif); Festspielhaus Saint Pölten. Action financée par la Région Île-de-France. Avec le soutien de La Briqueterie-CDCN du Val-de-Marne.

Creating art is always something of an adventure.

More than a year away from creating the piece, there are still a lot of unknowns and loose ends. Everything can change. For me, it doesn't unfold like something that was thoroughly thought out in advance. A piece originates from a desire, a drive, an impetus that allow me to move ahead, start

anew and be recharged by a compelling and mysterious desire to reach further into life itself. "The vernal mystery is the cosmic, annual and seasonal figure of our own destiny." I like the idea of a project when getting started but it changes all the time. Gloria comes together as the result of planned and unplanned events. It's a shape-shifter.


Who is Gloria?

She is the passionate owner of a fantasy cabaret, now called "the Spanish inn" but might also be called "the cabaret Voltaire". It's a cosmopolitan place that celebrates life and its momentum resulting from cross-pollinations, blends and new and unexpected transformations occurring between human beings, cultures, ideas, dances, songs and music styles. This place would exude a song of love reflecting the joyful bastardization in ourselves. It would be frequented by flamboyant characters that would work as guideposts for building my piece and get the world's ballet dancing.

In the face of the impending ecological chaos, in the face of violence, terror, unbridled greed, exclusion and rampant commodification, Gloria harbors a utopia, a naiveté, an antidote that keeps nurturing me. With those disasters looming ahead, if there is any solace, it lies in art and emotions. It involves an awareness of our responsibility and commitment to preserving the beauty of the world. Baudelairian, witch artist, fairy, playful, Gloria, believes that evil is done effortlessly,

naturally, out of destiny, while good - on the contrary - is accomplished through art. Through artistic creation, reality takes on new dimensions, the world becomes more resplendent and rich. Gloria invites us to intoxicate ourselves with wine, poetry, dance, music, theatre or virtue, as we see fit, but above all to intoxicate ourselves.

Every man and woman can find in Gloria's path things that resonate with their lives.

José Montalvo



See all companies