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 Post subject: Johan Kobborg at the QEH - September 2003
PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2003 12:00 am 
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Click through for information about Johan Kobborg bringing Danish choreography and Alina Cojocaru, Zenaida Yanowsky and Jamie Tapper to the Queen Elizabeth Hall.

<small>[ 11 July 2003, 02:31 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Johan Kobborg at the QEH - September 2003
PostPosted: Wed Sep 03, 2003 6:52 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Prince of Denmark
One of the Royal Ballet’s biggest box office draws, Johan Kobborg
branches out on his own with Out of Denmark, a showcase of
160 years of Danish ballet. JUDITH MACKRELL for the South Bank Magazine spoke to him

Johan Kobborg had been a Principal with the Royal
Danish Ballet for five years before he came to
London in 1999. Yet during his first season at Covent
Garden audiences were granted only erratic sightings
of this slim, subtle, precisely poised dancer. The
Royal Ballet seemed to be taking its time to appreciate
the extraordinary artist it had acquired and few guessed
that beneath Kobborg’s aristocratic technique lay a fierce
theatrical intelligence.

click for more

<small>[ 15 September 2003, 02:24 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Johan Kobborg at the QEH - September 2003
PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2003 12:21 am 
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Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK
Preview from The Guardian.

Quote:
Launching himself into a stag leap, Johan Kobborg holds the position in the air, regards himself critically in the ballet-studio mirror and alights, gliding fluently into the next step. The sequence is a simple one, but Kobborg makes it tense and mysterious. Satisfied - he has repeated the sequence several times - he sinks to the floor next to his fellow Royal Ballet principal Alina Cojocaru. Neither speaks, but they are clearly at ease together. Both joined the company in 1999 - Kobborg from the Royal Danish Ballet, Cojocaru from the Kiev Ballet - and have already established one of the world's most highly regarded partnerships
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<small>[ 15 September 2003, 02:24 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Johan Kobborg at the QEH - September 2003
PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2003 12:20 am 
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Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK
Review from The Telegraph.

Quote:
When classical ballet-dancers head off to make a programme of their own, they give a sudden view into how they see themselves. Many Royal Ballet men have done this recently: Irek Mukhamedov defined himself as an expressionist music-theatre performer, the Ballet Boyz went for modern macho, while this summer Carlos Acosta rooted himself in Cuba's streets - none celebrating classicism as their shaping force.

Not Johan Kobborg. His programme shows him a Danish classicist and proud of it. It must be said, first, that the Queen Elizabeth Hall is a rotten place to watch classical ballet. You are piled almost on top of the dancers, and classical ballet demands distance to mist up the lens and translate the exacting artificiality into theatrical poetry.

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And The FT.

Quote:
What better idea, in this ballet-free season, than Johan Kobborg's tribute to his roots as a Danish dancer. So, a brief season of Danish choreographies on the less-than-helpful stage of the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Forward-projecting, cavernous, it needs special design, special planning. Kim Brandstrup made everything of its difficulties this year with his Hamlet, and in a new piece for Kobborg's season, he has again done splendidly well. Afsked is an emotionally fraught duet which studies those moments when two lovers separate. Set to a quartet movement by Boccherini, danced with passionate understanding by the tremendous Zenaida Yanowsky and Dylan Elmore (a fine dancer, new to me), this novelty deserves continued stage-life.

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And From The Times.

Quote:
NOW here’s something you don’t see very often, in Britain at least. An entire evening devoted to Danish choreography, courtesy of the Danish dancer and Royal Ballet star Johan Kobborg. He has gathered together colleagues from Covent Garden for this limited South Bank run which offers a curious mixed bag of dances old and new. Bournonville, of course, since he is the father of Danish choreography; but the 20th century too, and a world premiere from Kim Brandstrup to bring the programme right up to date. For many, the attraction of Out of Denmark is Kobborg himself and the opportunity to see other favourite Royal Ballet dancers in such an intimate setting.
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<small>[ 19 September 2003, 02:22 AM: Message edited by: Joanne ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Johan Kobborg at the QEH - September 2003
PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2003 10:22 am 
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Location: London UK
Johan Kobborg is to be roundly applauded for the programme he has put together at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, as he has achieved something that is usually beyond the powers-that-be at the Royal Ballet. He has thoughtfully put together a well balanced and interesting evening of works that is thoroughly rewarding for the spectator.

Kobborg himself, together with regular partner Alina Cojocaru opens the programme in a piece by Harold Lander dating from 1942, totally unknown to me, called “Festpolonaise”. To very tuneful music by Johan Svendson that incorporates the familiar Irish air “Lillibullero”, the pair performs a stylish classical pas de deux that shows off both their technical abilities and their considerable charisma.

The second two items were Bournonville rarities, The Jockey Dance from the ballet “From Siberia to Moscow”, followed by a pas de deux from the Tyrolean Divertissement of the Rossini opera “William Tell”. The first item features two jolly young men in racing silks galloping around brandishing whips on imaginary horses, along (apparently), the banks of the River Thames. This was followed by an amorous Alpine couple in pretty peasant costumes, not one of August B’s more memorable pieces I’m afraid, but blonde Bethany Keating really looked the part and it wasn’t without some period charm.

The first act concluded with the world premiere of a work by that exceptionally fine Danish choreographer Kim Brandstrup. “Afsked” is Danish for “to depart”; it depicts the end of a relationship and the sorrows of parting. Superbly danced by Zenaida Yanowsky and Dylan Elmore, they dance out their pain and remorse with a raw intensity. The sublime music by Boccherini gently contrasted with the desperation of dying love while the choreography depicted both anguish and resignation. The storm of applause that greeted the dancers at the end was I feel, as much because it had struck a universal chord within the audience, as it was appreciation of a profound and moving work.

After the interval came that amazing modern classic by Flemming Flindt, “The Lesson”. Sadly neglected here in the UK, I last saw this ballet in 1977 danced by Vivi Flindt, Natalia Makarova and Rudolf Nureyev. The setting is a darkened ballet studio where overturned chairs and music manuscript paper strewn across the floor, indicate that all isn’t as it seems. A stiff, unsmiling woman with a shawl pulled tight and protectively across her torso (Yanowsky) begins to restore order. The bell rings and she reluctantly admits a pretty, eager, young dance student (Cojocaru) who warms up at the barre until the teacher (Kobborg) arrives. He is a gauche, awkward, young man, clearly lacking any social graces. The class commences and it becomes apparent that this man isn’t just a social inadequate, but a crazed being unable to control a warped sexuality that develops into hideous violence. The pianist flees and the helpless young girl is strangled against the barre.

I felt that the proximity to the dancers at the QEH intensified the horror one feels watching this ballet and the three dancers were staggeringly good, chillingly convincing and terrifying to watch. Cojocaru was a cute unsuspecting nymphet, transformed into a powerless, doomed victim and that cool beauty, Yanowsky, was unrecognizable as the frosty, unbending pianist, oddly complicit in this depiction of a serial killer at his grisly work. As the demented ballet-master Kobborg was almost completely successful, but I felt his youth told against him and there were a few odd laughs shortly after his entrance. I remember Nureyev in this role, grizzled and unkempt, a sinister presence from the start. Kobborg will grow in this role. He is potentially the finest dancer-actor we have seen in years and his performance in “The Lesson” was ultimately totally commanding in its gruesome intensity. His comparative youth though made me wonder for the first time if the pianist could actually be the teacher’s mother. It would explain her unfeeling acceptance of a crazed murderer.

Flemming Flindt himself took a curtain call at the end of the ballet, giving us the opportunity to acknowledge the creator of one of the finest dance dramas of the 20th century.

In the final piece of the evening it was back to Bournonville with the familiar pas de six & tarantella from “Napoli”. Familiar to the audience perhaps, but not to the Royal Ballet dancers accompanying Kobborg. Frankly they were lacking that quality I always think of as the “Bournonville Bounce”, though the girls seemed to be picking up the style a little more readily than their male colleagues. This is always a fun, uplifting divertissement and only the mean-spirited would dwell on any minor shortcomings but the problem could be solved by the Royal Ballet finding room for Bournonville in the repertory. Even if we can’t have La Sylphide, at least this pas de six would be a start.

Finally, a message to Mr Kobborg: Can we have more of the same please?


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 Post subject: Re: Johan Kobborg at the QEH - September 2003
PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2003 1:16 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Northern highlights
So what has Denmark ever given the world? Great choreography for a start. By Jann Parry for The Observer.

Denmark vies with Russia as proud possessor of the oldest ballets still in performance. Now that Russian companies travel so much, their Petipa ballets and gala bits and pieces are widespread. The Danes, however, display the family jewels more selectively. To see the range of their Bournonville repertoire, you have to wait for a special festival. The next celebration of the Royal Danish Ballet's great nineteenth-century choreographer, August Bournonville, will be in Copenhagen in two years' time.

The 1992 festival was the occasion of young Johan Kobborg's rise to prominence. At the age of 19, he was stepping into sacred solo roles, an inheritance he left behind four years ago to join the Royal Ballet in London. Aware that we've lost touch with the Danish connection, he mounted his own programme during the summer break, danced by Royal Ballet colleagues.

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 Post subject: Re: Johan Kobborg at the QEH - September 2003
PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2003 7:33 am 
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I managed to get to QEH for the programme. An enjoyable evening - being so up close to Cojocaru and Tapper was very special. Wherever one sits in the Royal Opera House, one is never up close and personal. Having the opportunity to watch their styles and technique so closely was like being in class. Although in the final piece, Dviertissements from Napoli, none of the dancers had top billing and it really was a democratic "Pas de Six and Tarantella," Tapper and Cojocaru brought a class to the piece that made it come alive. Tapper's arms are particulary elegant and her subtle changes of positioning from the shoulder mark her out as a principal.

Why do we not seem more of Zenaida Yanowsky? I have always been her most ardent fan, ever since I saw her endless legs encased in black stockings kick the ceiling in Ashley Page's choreographies. She is also the best 'first harlot' (Romeo and Juliet) I have ever seen. In fact her performance is one of the things you talk about in the bar afterwards once you've dispensed with deceased couple, themselves.

And now it is confirmed that she can master contemporary choreography as if she were trained for it. Dylan Elmore and Yanowsky in Kim Brandstup's duet made the evening. The couple have parted and now they are trying to saying to goodbye. All at once certain of their decision, and yet uncertain, they are completely believable. Yanowsky's body is liquid and flows like the very best of contemporary dancers. She is not ballerina in bare feet. She uses her training and technique but the incoporation into Brandstrup's language is seamless. Elmore from Batsheva Dance Company and Gulbenkian Ballet, was no less impressive. One of the few World Premieres I have seen recently that I could sit through again! Indeed I would not only sit through it again, but I would like to dance it myself. When choreography is truly communicative, I want to dance it.

I would never want to dance in Flindt's The Lesson. I can only assume that the reason this received applause, the like of which I have not heard in London for a long time, is that we, as a society, are so desensitised by the graphic protrayal of pain, death and violence in film, that we are only moved when it hits us in the face. If Kobborg had played the teacher in a way where we felt his dilemma and watched him wrestle with his desires, I would have put up with the near groping of Cojocaru's breasts and her ultimate strangling. Instead, it was clear from the moment Kobborg walked into the room that she was 'done for' and that, because of the music strewn all over the floor with chairs in places that you don't normally find them in dance studios, that this had happened many times before. Silence of the Lambs goes Laurel and Hardy. The over-acting from Kobborg was dismal. Performed in the Bolshoi with me sitting at the back, I would still have got the point. Do the dancers appreciate they are normally acting when they perform in Romeo and Juliet and so when they are given a very dark and dramatic piece, they should just apply the same principles. Of course, I am being unfair, it is Flindt's fault. Zenowsky didn't have the opportunity to play the piano teacher like Mrs Danvers. Instead she storms around the room with a sour look on her face as if she is repressed.

The reason I am so critical is that I think if you are going to portray child abuse and murder on stage, particularly in front of children sitting in the audience wearing pink party frocks, there has to be a point. Flindt's piece is obvious and I don't know what he is saying other than "there are some real weirdos" out there so "Don't put your daughter on the stage, Mrs Robinson."

However, the piece divides the audience. Some people did not clap at all and others practically gave standing ovations.

<small>[ 21 September 2003, 09:43 AM: Message edited by: Emma Pegler ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Johan Kobborg at the QEH - September 2003
PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2003 3:57 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
"Out of Denmark" had many positive features, including the innovative, underlying concept of an evening of Danish choreography in London. The superlative dancing of Johan Kobborg and Alina Cojocaru graced the evening and with top price tickets at £20, the programme was a great bargain for ballet lovers, despite the often-bare stage and inadequate quality of much of the recorded music.

Ricardo Cervera and Bethany Keating brought much style to their Bournonville dances and we saw the premiere of an excellent new duet, "Afsked", by Kim Brandstrup. The parting of two lovers provided the frame for this distinctive and sensuous modern dance work, which you can easily imagine appearing at vasrious galas. Brandstrup’s choreography gave Zenaida Yanowsky the material to weave sad magic, ably supported by Dylan Elmore.

However, I found Flemming Flindt's "The Lesson" a problematic treatment of an abusive dance teacher-student relationship. I have no difficulty with dark ballets in general and Cathy Marston's "Facing Viv" and Christopher Bruce's "Swansong" resonate with psychological insight and compassion. Whether the abuse and murder of a girl student can ever be satisfactorily presented in dance is a debatable point, but this work impressed me as as a gratuitous use of the material for dramatic effect and little else. This is in marked contrast to the treatment of a similar theme in the film “M”, where Peter Lorre also portrays a child killer. However, Lorre underplays the role and the film’s Director, Fritz Lang, explores society’s reactions and prejudices and finally makes us sympathetic for the plight of the obsessive central figure. “The Lesson’s” crude dramatics provide no equivalent underpinning and a tendency to caricature magnifies the hollowness of Flindt's approach. If Cojocaru, Yanovsky and Kobborg cannot make it work I doubt anyone can.

Whereas the Marston and Bruce ballets have powerful ideas at their core I saw little sign of this in “The Lesson”. Was it about the inherent abusive nature of ballet or the repetitive nature of abuse generally? If so, the heavy-handed treatment overbalanced consideration of such issues.

It’s only fair to report that many admired the work and the performance received loud applause. In addition, Debra Craine in The Times praised the ballet, together with some other critics. If it seems that I have dwelt too long on this section of the programme, my antipathy to “The Lesson” dominated the evening and the charming lightness of touch of the excerpts from Bournonville’s “Napoli”, which followed, did little to soothe my anger.

I certainly hope for more evenings of chamber ballet in London with a similarly imaginative format and I would see this programme again if it returns. Nevertheless, in future “The Lesson” will always find me propping the bar.

<small>[ 23 September 2003, 05:09 PM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Johan Kobborg at the QEH - September 2003
PostPosted: Thu Sep 25, 2003 1:40 am 
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Two reviews from The Independent.

Quote:
Johan Kobborg has been a star of two Royal Ballets - the British company, where he is now a principal, and his home company in Denmark. He's still a dazzling example of Danish style - clean line, buoyant jump and crisp, sparkly footwork. His programme at the Queen Elizabeth Hall is a showcase of Danish choreography
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And

Quote:
Johan Kobborg has booked the QEH for two nights. He's already a dab hand at programming, but just as crucially he knows how to rally his friends. Out of Denmark, a showcase of Danish choreography from the 1870s to the present, could have focused solely on his own brilliant technique, or at least used colleagues he easily outshone. Instead, Kobborg's big night out offered a feast of virtuosity in which the tastiest morsels were liberally shared.

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 Post subject: Re: Johan Kobborg at the QEH - September 2003
PostPosted: Sun Sep 28, 2003 2:02 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Out of Demnark
By David Dougill for The Sunday Times

So, but in a rather different vein, do the Royal Ballet stars Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg, who appeared with colleagues from the company at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in a special programme, Out of Denmark, devised by Kobborg to celebrate Danish choreographers. They were the 19th- century master August Bournonville; Harald Lander and Flemming Flindt from the 20th century; and today’s Kim Brandstrup, with a commissioned premiere.

Brandstrup’s duet, Afsked, to music by Boccherini, depicts the dying moments of a relationship, lovers parting in grief, danced with great subtlety and intensity by Zenaida Yanowsky and Dylan Elmore.

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