CriticalDance Forum

Principals & Soloists of the Royal Danish Ballet
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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Fri Jun 24, 2005 1:58 am ]
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Royal Danish Ballet
Debra Craine at Sadler's Wells

VISITS by the Royal Danish Ballet are rare. The last time the company was in London was a decade ago, and the last time the Danes performed Bournonville in London was in 1974. So it’s a happy occasion that a group of dancers from Copenhagen has come to Sadler’s Wells this week to celebrate their great 19th-century choreographer.

Unfortunately we aren’t getting the entire Royal Danish Ballet, only 19 of its principals and soloists; and we aren’t getting the entire ballets, only excerpts. So the focus here is on style rather than content. But what style. Such lightness and grace, such elegance of presentation and ease of technique. Bournonville’s vibrant choreography may be difficult to dance, but you would never know it by looking at these strong, lovely Danes.

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A celebration of Bournonville
By John Percival for The Stage

The rarest item on this programme is also the most enjoyable. The Jockey Dance was staged by the Danish Ballet’s great choreographer August Bournonville as a comic number for two men, making fun of the English love of horses. Short, lively, full of character and unexpected steps, it is most amusingly done by Morten Eggert and Nicolai Hansen.

They are among the eight men and eleven women assembled by leading dancer Thomas Lund to give Londoners a sample of Bournonville’s genius commemorating his bicentenary.

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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sat Jun 25, 2005 11:44 am ]
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Royal Danish Ballet
by JUDITH MACKRELL for the Guardian

Act two of La Conservatoire, which recalls Bournonville's student years in Paris, opens the programme with what seems merely a bravura dance showcase. But this class of students laying on their best moves also displays the subtleties of the choreographer's invention - the delicate daisy chains of steps danced by the girl students contrasted with the arrogant flirtatiousness steeling their teacher's demonstrations.

published: June 23, 2005

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Jun 26, 2005 12:50 pm ]
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There is nothing like a Dane
By Jann Parry for The Observer

The Royal Danish Ballet hasn't brought its Bournonville ballets to Britain since 1976, so it was good to welcome a group of soloists and principals in excerpts from the repertoire they had just given in Copenhagen. For anybody who couldn't get to the Third Bournonville Festival, this was an enjoyable taster. Thomas Lund, the leading dancer who directed the group, knows exactly how to convey Bournonville's exuberance.

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Sylph indulgence
A celebration of Bournonville sparkled amid our own masters, says David Dougill for The Sunday Times.

Ballerinas in the prettiest of frocks skim the stage in an embroidery of filigree steps; the male dancers bounce and soar blithely, as if on springs. And when they jump towards us, their arms reach out with the sense of an embrace. This is the Bournonville style, one of classical ballet’s great treasures — the spirit of joy, generosity and love.

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Author:  ksneds [ Sun Jun 26, 2005 2:17 pm ]
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I made the trip down to Sadler's Wells for the final weekend and wanted to offer some brief comments on the Saturday performances. I enjoyed seeing the dancers in a different venue, though it was disappointing to see so many empty seats in the second circle.

It was definately an evening of masterful men....

For me, the highlight was Thomas Lund's evening performance in the excerpt from the second act (?) "La Sylphide". Of the many time I've seen Lund dance, this was the finest - those crisp, lightning fast beats, huge Bournonville jetes and a final pas de chat that cut through the air with with razor sharp precision. He manages to pull of the trickiest of steps in such harmony with the music - flying across the stage carried on the winds of Lovenskold's stirring score.

Though the stage was bare, save for atmospheric lighting, Lund and his sylph, Caroline Cavallo managed to create the foggy forest atmphosphere with their dancing and convincing, natural mime.

Another of the fine men was Tim Matiakis, who has just completed his first year with the company. He's a polished, stylish dancer, not to mention a stunning turner, and looked equally as comfortable in the controlled 'Konservatoriet" solo as he did in the exuberant Tarantella from "Napoli".

And one couldn't help but to notice the newest male soloist, Dawid Kupinksi. He and Nicolai Hansen (in the evening) added new highjinks to the tongue in cheek 'Jockey Dance', two delightfully swaggering jockeys. (Jean-Lucien Massot, who partnered Kupinksi in the afternoon, didn't appear as scheduled in the afternoon "Napoli" excerpt and was replaced in the evening's performances - hopefully this was due to scheduling and not injury or illness.)

It was intriguing to see 20 year old Kupinski alongside the decade older Mads Blangstrup (as the ballet teacher) in "Le Conservatoire" - both are tall, elegantly proportioned, and of course, blond. Kupinksi is immensely talented, an exciting work in progress with rough edges to be polished, and in Blangstrup one could see a more finished work - flashes of the future. One hopes that Kupinski will continue to receive excellent coaching nad challenging, but appropriate roles to develop his impressive natural talents.

Kristoffer Sakurai also impressed opposite Diana Cuni in "Flower Festival from Genzano", though his final two solos did not match the ballon and precision of his first. He also took on Gennaro's solo in the closing section of the 3rd act "Napoli" though attired in the wrong colored scarf (pale blue, instead of the usual yellow).

Bravos all around to the dancers. The next leg of the tour takes them below the equator to South America.


Author:  ksneds [ Mon Jun 27, 2005 1:54 am ]
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Jolly jaunts with a genius
by ISMENE BROWN for the Daily Telegrph

From these instinctive signals of flirtation Bournonville codified some of the prettiest grace notes of ballet, and, if Frederick Ashton charms us today, much of his vocabulary was given him by the Frenchman in Denmark.

published: June 23,2005

Royal Danish Ballet: Bournonville, Sadler's Wells, London
by ZOE ANDERSON for the Independent

Thomas Lund, who directs these Royal Danish soloists and principals, has tremendous speed and sharp timing. His movement is full as well as quick, with a plumped-up texture to the bouncy jumps. He can lose spontaneity as he dallies with a step, but his dancing has ease and aplomb.

published : 27 June 2005

Author:  Cassandra [ Mon Jun 27, 2005 4:14 am ]
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There are a few inaccuracies in the Telegraph review that need to be corrected:

However, only in his native Copenhagen are Bournonville's ballets now seen, .

Actually La Sylphide and Flower Festival at Genzano are regularly danced just about everywhere, Conservatoire used to be danced by ENB and even that rare Jockey Dance was performed by the Royal Ballet in London recently. Bournonville's work is admired and danced worldwide.

the Frenchman in Denmark.

August Bournonville was Danish, born and bred, it was his father, Antoine who was French.

his native Paris in Le Conservatoire,

Again, Bournonville was a native of Copenhagen which the author got right in the first quote and therefore not a native of Paris, though the widely travelled Bournonville studied in Paris in the 1820's.

Author:  ksneds [ Mon Jun 27, 2005 5:07 am ]
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Thanks for the corrections...sometimes I think professional editors have come to rely on the spellcheck, which, as I've found out on several occasions, is far from perfect.

Recently, the most glaring example of poor editing I've seen is this article by Deborah Jowitt on the Bournonville Festival. I counted seven different names mispelled:

Lis Jeppeson (Jeppesen)
Mads Blankstrup (Blangstrup)
Nikolai Hansen (Nicolai)
Suzanne Grinder (Susanne)
Sila Schandorff (Silja)
Gitte Lindstrom (slash through the o in Lindstrom)
Peter Bo Bendixon (Bendixen)

Kudos to them for taking the effort to insert the special characters, but it helps to check to make sure the spelling is correct for that person. Just as there are Katherines, Katharines and Kathryns, there are Nicolais, Nikolais and Nikolajs.


Author:  coda [ Mon Jul 04, 2005 6:03 am ]
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Those who live or happen to be in London might be interested to know about the current "Hans Christian Andersen" exhibition at the British Library. From its "What's On. What's There" brochure: "Original manuscripts and early editions are on show, together with ballet costumes from the Royal Opera House. Wonderful illustrations across the decades reflect the changing times."

Author:  AnaM [ Mon Jul 18, 2005 10:27 am ]
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On Tuesday 21st June, some principals and soloists of the Royal Danish Ballet appeared at Sadler’s Wells with a programme to celebrate the works of their famous founder choreographer August Bournonville.

The Programme opened with the dance section of “Le Conservatoire”. The section of the ballet the Royal Danish Ballet presented provided a good opportunity to get a glimpse of what a ballet class looked like in the nineteenth century. It is a living document that allows the viewer to understand Bournonville and Romantic ballet as a whole and it is interesting to see the exercises that were set at the time, with the emphasis on the paradigmatic attitude and pirouettes. The ballet was well danced in its solos and variations, but whenever there was more than one dancer in action there was lack of synchronicity in the movements that took away some of the beauty of the enchainments.

Next came the best part of the evening, “The Flower Festival in Genzano Pas de Deux”, danced by Caroline Carvallo and Thomas Lund. The freshness of their interpretation made justice to the exquisite choreography of this famous pas de deux. The dancers received the biggest ovation of the evening and it was a well deserved one.

“La Ventana Pas de Trois” showed Bournonville’s vision of stylised Spanish dance and, though it was interesting to watch, it did not really shine through, out of the full ballet’s context.

The “Jockey Dance” was a delight to watch, as it brought a completely different side of Bournonville’s choreography. The humour that the two male dancers, Morten Eggert and Nicolai Hansen, brought to their interpretation showed that there is more to Bournonville than the beautiful pas de deux.

“La Sylphide” was represented by its pas de deux in the second act as well as the two numbers for the three soloists. Silja Schandorff and Mads Blangstrup performed the leads well, but the fragment did not really come alive without the rest of the story or corps de ballet to help create some sort of mood for the piece. Having said this, it has to be said that at a later date, Thomas Lund and Caroline Carvallo did achieve this by extraordinary performances that made the viewer aware, if not of the whole story line, of the fact that these two beings truly loved each other.

Finally, the divertissement from “Napoli” closed the programme. This is always a joyous moment and, as a finale, it really serves its purpose. The solos were well executed and the final Tarantella was a joy to watch.

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