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Royal Danish Ballet

'Napoli'

by Kate Snedeker

December 21, 2006 -- Royal Theatre, Copenhagen, Denmark

For the second performance of "Napoli" this season, the lead roles were danced by some of the most experienced dancers. In a company where the constant demands of multiple casts in varied repertory don't usually lend themselves to constant pairings, Thomas Lund and Gudrun Bojesen have developed a long lasting and exquisite onstage partnership. They are without question, the two finest Bournonville dancers of the current generation, and the presence of Queen Margrethe at this performance is probably an indication of how highly they are regarded.

Lund has danced the role of Gennaro most recently with Tina Højlund, Bojesen not having danced the role of Teresina in recent seasons. However, Lund and Bojsen's partnership was flawless. They give the roles a softer, more genial edge than did Matiakis and Cuni, who were rawer and wilder. In solos and pas de deux, they were nearly flawless, with Lund achieving height in his jumps that is truly gasp inducing. He had one scary moment in Act 2, when an overenthusiastic male sea creature hurled him with such force that he slid just into the wings, returning with a hand on one hip. Fortunately, Lund did not seem to have suffered any ill effects from his near ejection from the stage.

Fernando Mora made a solid, if not especially impressive debut as Golfo. Mora, a long time soloist, has the height and fierce expression, but his slender figure looked overwhelmed by the bulky costume. Of the Golfos I've seen, only Morten Eggert and Peter Bo Bendixen have really had solid enough physiques to look at home in the costume. On slender dancers, the plastic-like scales and huge belt look oversized, almost cartoonish. Mora did bring a nice athleticism to the role, and his sea creature henchmen were more than realistic in trying to prevent Gennaro from rescuing Teresina.

Other debuts included Erling Eliasson as a genial Friar Ambrosio, and a handful of dancers in the third act Pas de Six and Tarantellas. Camilla Ruelykke Holst was enchanting in her first attempt at the 'pink dress' solo. Sebastian Kloborg looked more at ease in his pas de six debut (blue belt dancer), though he took a noticeable stumble out of finishing pose. Very impressive was Ulrik Birkkjær, who added nice nuance and phrasing to his solo, ending with a beautiful, balanced pirouette of the type that impressed me last week in "Swan Lake". Final turns to pose seem to offer a frequent source of difficulty for men, partly I'm sure because the low bent leg is not a natural position for today's dancers, so it was a treat to see Birkkjær finish so neatly. Alexander Stæger was more successful in the red belt solo that gave Sebastian Kloborg a bit of trouble last night.  Like others Stæger had some trouble staying balanced in the final pose, but he has nice streched lines and a soft plie, and handled the fast grand plies with aplomb.

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