After a trip to New York in which he discovered the work of Merce Cunningham, Lucinda Childs, Steve Paxton, Trisha Brown, Stuart Sherman and Yvonne Rainer, Jean-Claude Gallotta — with Mathilde Altaraz — founded the Émile Dubois Group in Grenoble in 1979, which, in 1981, joined the Grenoble Arts Centre as a dance creation unit. This was where Ulysse was born, a playful ballet using both classical and modern vocabularies.
The Émile Dubois Group became the National Choreographic Centre and took up Ulysse again in 1984 for the Olympic Games Festival in Los Angeles, the American Dance Festival, the Holland Festival and the Avignon Festival.
This was followed by: Les Aventures d’Ivan Vaffan, Les Louves and Pandora. In 1986, Jean-Claude Gallotta was asked to be the director of the Grenoble Arts Centre — renamed “Le Cargo” -, thereby becoming the first choreographer to be appointed to run this type of institution.
In 1987, the ballet Mammame was performed at the Montreal International Festival of New Dance: the Canadian press (dance and theatre) awarded him the prize for the Best Foreign Performance of the Year. In 1989, after some ten audiovisual collaborations with, for example, Claude Mouriéras and Raoul Ruiz, Jean-Claude Gallotta produced his first full-length film: Rei Dom — La Légende des Kreuls. This was followed by Docteur Labus and Les Mystères de Subal.
Jean-Claude Gallotta then resigned as director of the Grenoble Arts Centre and published his first book, Mémoires d’un dictaphone.
During the 1991-1992 season, two choreographic creations combining dance, words and music were performed: La Légende de Roméo et Juliette, performed in November 1991 for the Albertville Olympic Arts Festival, and La Légende de Don Juan, performed in June 1992 for the Universal Exhibition in Seville, as a joint production with the Avignon Festival. Jean-Claude Gallotta then shot his second full-length film: l’Amour en deux.
1993: publication of Les Yeux qui dansent (interviews with Bernard Raffalli).
In July of the same year, Jean-Claude Gallotta recreated Ulysse at the Châteauvallon Festival. This was followed by a long international tour.
1994: Prémonitions, a new choreography created in Grenoble. 1995: at the request of ‘Lyon Opéra Ballet’, Jean-Claude Gallotta composed La Solitude du danseur, four solos performed to music by Erik Satie. Gallotta then worked with Nicholas Hytner and Sir Charles Mackerras to produce La Petite Renarde Rusée, an opera by Leos Janacek, performed by the Théâtre du Châtelet.
At the Châteauvallon Festival, Jean-Claude Gallotta choreographed and performed the solo Hommage à Pavel Haas. In Grenoble, he created La Tête contre les fleurs for the company. This was followed in 1996 by Rue de Palanka, and in 1997, La Rue (an event for 3,000 spectators) and the creation of La Chamoule ou l’Art d’aimer.
A longstanding collaboration was set up with Japan, at the invitation of the director Tadashi Suzuki: from 1997 to 2000, Jean-Claude Gallotta ran the dance department at the new Shizuoka Performing Arts Centre, training and directing a permanent company of eight Japanese performers. In 1998, Jean-Claude Gallotta also directed Le Ventriloque by Jean-Marie Piemme and Le Catalogue by Jean-Bernard Pouy, and wrote Pierre Chatel for “l’Adieu au siècle”.
Jean-Claude Gallotta created Les Variations d’Ulysse for the Paris Opera Ballet, which was performed at the Opéra Bastille in 1995, and repeated in 1998. He also created Nosferatu in May 2002 to music by Pascal Dusapin; the ballet was performed again in spring 2006 at the Opéra Bastille.
In 1999, he created Presque Don Quichotte at the Douai Hippodrome; the piece was also performed in Shizuoka, Japan. In 2000, he created l’Incessante, a solo for Mathilde Altaraz, at the Avignon Festival as part of Le Vif du Sujet. In 2001, he created Les Larmes de Marco Polo for the Lyon International Biennial.
In 2002, he created 99 duos at the Chaillot National Theatre, the first part of a trilogy on ‘People’. In 2003, he prepared Trois générations for the Avignon Festival, which was eventually cancelled. The piece, which includes children, former dancers and the Company, was performed at the Rampe d’Echirolles in March 2004.
It was performed in May of the same year at the Chaillot National Theatre and was repeated in November 2005. The same year, he worked with the director Hans-Peter Cloos to produce a show combining dance, theatre and music, Les sept pechés capitaux by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill. In 2006, he created Des Gens qui dansent, the third part of the trilogy initiated by 99 duos and Trois Générations and, in 2007, he repeated his flagship piece from the 80s, Ulysse, under the title Cher Ulysse.
In 2008, Bach dance experience with Mirella Giardelli and “L’Atelier des Musiciens du Louvre”; Armide by Lully with the conductor William Christie and the director Robert Carsen at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris; Chroniques chorégraphiques - season 1, a sort of “stage movie” that allowed him to pursue his poetic research into genres and people.
In 2009, he created l’Homme à tête de chou, with the original words and music by Serge Gainsbourg in a version recorded for the show by Alain Bashung. In April 2011, he performed a solo with Faut qu’je danse ! as a prelude to the recreation of his trio Daphnis é Chloé in Grenoble.
In October 2011, again in Grenoble and with a piece for thirteen dancers, he took on Igor Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du printemps, which he presented in April 2012 at the Chaillot National Theatre, Paris, along with Tumulte and Pour Igor in the first part.
At the end of 2012, he is to present Racheter la mort des gestes - Chroniques chorégraphiques 1 at the Théâtre de la Ville, then at MC2; in early 2013, his recreation of Ivan Vaffan (first performed in 1984) will enable him to continue his work on the repertoire, alternating with his creations and thereby pleading for a certain “continuity in art” and seeking patiently to share with his audience the same story: the story of a shared artistic history and future.
In October 2013, he directed the singer Olivia Ruiz in El Amor Brujo by Manuel de Falla, a piece presented together with Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale, a show on which he worked together with the conductor Marc Minkowski and the director Jacques Osinski.
For the 2014-2015 season, he presented The Rite and its Revolutions (including the first performance of Xenakis’s Jonchaies and Six Pieces for Orchestra, op. 6 by Webern (Homage to Angela Davis) at the Philharmonie de Paris, and in June he gave the first performance of The Stranger, based on the novel by Albert Camus at the MC2 in Grenoble.
He opened the 2015-16 season with My Rock at the MC2 and at the Théâtre du Rond-Point in Paris.
On December 31, 2015, Jean-Claude Gallotta stepped down as director of the Centre Chorégraphique national - Grenoble.
Today, with his dance company fully reconstituted under its original name - Groupe Émile Dubois – he continues on his artistic way.
In association with the Théâtre du Rond Point (Paris) and MC2 : Grenoble, where his company is now based, he is creating new forms of work to explore the choreographic
universe. In 2016, the Groupe Émile Dubois will go on tour with three shows : My Rock, l’Étranger, l’Enfance de Mammame.