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Royal Danish Ballet

'La Ventana'

by Ana Abad-Carles

June 6, 2005 -- Royal Theatre, Copenhagen

The Royal Danish Ballet presented "La Ventana" as part of a double bill with "La Sylphide". "La Ventana" was first performed in 1856, and my only knowledge of the piece was the male variation and a fragment from the finale from a recording with Lis Jeppesen and Frank Andersen featured in the 1980s Peter Schaufuss series, "The Dancer".

The ballet is only 30 minute long, and the story is very simple. A young girl is followed by a man to her house and he serenades her. She dances to his music in her room, and then receives a flower as token of his love. She throws a ribbon at him as a response to his advances. In the street, the man dances and a woman appears wearing a mantilla that hides her face. Of course, the woman in question is the young girl. When she reveals herself, the man asks three of his friends to dance for her and the ballet finishes with the whole street celebrating the romance of the couple.

The story is not a deep transcendental one, but as it is set in Spain, it reflects a certain aspect of Spanish romance and manners in the nineteenth century that allow the choreography to explore its folklore in a very peculiar way. The costumes and atmosphere are very much in the goyescas style as depicted by the great paintings of Goya, where majos and majas were depicted in scenes of dance and courtship. In fact, Goya’s 'Naked Maja' is featured prominently in the backdrop used for the girl’s bedroom (an anachronism, as no woman in Spain would have had that painting in her room!).

The main roles were danced by Izabela Sokolowska as la Señorita and Mads Blangstrup as el Señor. There was certainly a lack of chemistry between the two, especially from Blangstrup’s part.  He danced the final variation with such a lack of feeling of any kind that it was quite uninspiring. Sokolowska tried hard, but she was left on her own in her displays and it seemed that the courtship was a bit desperate on her part. The pas de trois was danced elegantly, though unremarkably, by both Diana Cuni and Femke M. Slot, and with greater sense of style by Andrew Bowman.

It was not a greatly inspired performance. Blangstrup’s apparent boredom did not really help the ballet to shine or even entertain, which is a pity, as it is one of the very few attempts from Bournonville’s part to tackle Spanish dance, a major source of inspiration for nineteenth century choreographers. Bournonville apparently had problems with its lack of decorum – as the programme notes explained – and he tried very hard to keep it as devoid of sexual allure as possible. The choreographic result is a unique exploration of Spanish dance re-elaborated under Bournonville’s strong style. It could have been a charming little ballet to open the evening; unfortunately it failed to establish any sense of character and the ballet remained an uninspired affair, lacking both in soul and charm.

 

Edited by Staff.

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