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The Royal Danish Ballet

'The King's Guard on Amager' and 'La Sylphide'

by Kate Snedeker

May 25, 2005 -- Royal Theatre, Copenhagen

In the final week before the season-ending Bournonville Festival, the Royal Danish Ballet added the final touches on the Bournonville repertory by performing six ballets in four days. On Wednesday night, the audience travelled from Denmark to Scotland, with inspiring performances of "The King's Guard on Amager" and "La Sylphide".

The program began in old Amager with a solid, but not sparkling performance of "The King's Guard on Amager". The action takes place under the roof of Karen Betz's colorfully cozy Amager farmhouse set. In this performance, a real feeling of family warmth came from the host of minor characters played by talented character dancers like Flemming Ryberg, Kirsten Simone, Ulla Frederiksen, Christina Nilsson, Kenn Hauge and Poul-Erik Hesselkilde.

The role of the talented and flirtatious Edouard Du Puy is just perfect for Peter Bo Bendixen, though he was not in top dancing form on this evening. Gitte Lindstrøm was elegant as DuPuy's wife Louise, but the chemistry between the pair never developed to great intensity. And thus, the penultimate moment, where she takes off her mask, and he realizes the trick that's been played on him for fooling around isn't as powerful as in other performances.

Yet, it's hard not to enjoy the final scene, with its abundant dances, including a reel and a more classical pas de trois. Tim Matiakis was an athletic Otto, his spins as breathtaking for their speed as their control.  In the pas de trois, Susanne Grinder towered over him on pointe, but while this would have been almost comical in some situations, Matiakis partnered her with such aplomb and smoothness, that the height mis-match became much less obvious.

The evening closed with a heart-wrenching performance of "La Sylphide", as re-imagined by Nikolaj Hübbe. Though restrained the prior evening in "La Ventana", Mads Blangstrup came alive as the doomed Scots farmer, James. Though engaged to Maria Bernholdt's feisty, red-headed Effy, it was no surprise that Caroline Cavallo's ethereal sylph stole his heart and soul.

In the first act, H.S. Løvenskiold's throbbing score provides the musical backdrop for some of the most moving and technically challenging male solos in the Bournonville repertory. Blangstrup stood out here, his legs scissoring in fast, precise beats and his grand jetes propelling him across the stage. In Gurn's solo, Morten Eggert displayed raw power while still retaining precision.

Caroline Cavallo was superb as the sylph, blending ethereal fragility with playful innocence. Though betrayed by creaky machinery in her flying scenes, she otherwise created a sense of delicacy, skimming across the floor, darting around James' chair in the opening scene. She managed the tricky, speedy footwork and the jetes without losing the sense of fragility that is so important. There was no doubt as to why James was so instantaneously and completely entranced by this sylph. And thus it made his eventual destruction of Cavallo's sylph so much more heart wrenching.

An imposing, creepy Madge, Jette Buchwald demonstrated the power of gesture and action. Though Blangstrup towered over her, there was no doubt as to who was in control when the two crossed paths. Intriguingly, Madge's faded, tattered robes are of the same tartan as James' kilt, suggesting that she is family. An outcast, perhaps back to have her revenge by destroying James and ending the family bloodline.

The power and pain that Cavallo, Buchwald and Blangstrup brought to the final scene was breathtaking. This was dancing and acting that pierced the heart, especially James' final collapse.

Yet, it was not just the principals who stood out, but also the outstanding female corps in the second act. The corps always looks so beautiful swathed in crisp, white tulle, but on this evening they were truly magical in the way they danced and breathed as one.

Henrik Vagn Christensen conducted the Royal Orchestra.


Edited by Staff.

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