Greetings from Copenhagen...
Last night was "A Folk Tale" the final full-length ballet to be presented - tonight's performance will be comprised of short divertissements, excerpts from the Bournonville schools and the ballets.
"A Folk Tale" is an intriguing ballet because the first two acts are heavily dependent on mime, with the bulk of the dancing in the final act. In the first scene, we are introduced to the main characters - Junker Øve, a nobleman and his fiancee, the volatile Birthe. Kenneth Greve is a noble Øve, elgant but clearly despondent at his fate of marriage to the economically, but not emotionally desirable Birthe.
Tina Højlund, in one of the finest performances of the evening, deftly balanced Birthe's opposing personalities - the noble bearing of her upbringing and the trollish quirks of her birth. Højlund throws a proper tantrum in the second act, but doesn't not let the trollish antics in her solo overpower the more elegant sections. Kirsten Simone, ever superb in her mime, was the gentle, caring nurse.
The trolls and the troll party in this production have been the subject of much debate, but I find it all quite impishly delightful. By casting a woman, here a wonderful Lis Jeppsen, in the role of Viderik, the relationship between the two trolls changes, but for none the worse. Peter Bo Bendixen's Diderik is the undesirable match for the lovely Hilda, all uncouth manners, while Viderik is the winsome younger brother, clearly no match for Hilda, but with good intention in his heart.
The troll party is borderline chaos, but so are many human parties, and we fancy ourselves far more civilized than trolls. Though having so many different, indivudually characterized trolls may pull some of the focus away from the principals, it makes for fascinating viewing. One really has to see the act multiple times to take in all the action´- trolls dancing, Muri and Diderik getting thoroughly drunk in the corner, Viderik fretting, Hilda dancing and plotting with Viderik to escape the festivities. And the dancers seem to have great fun with the various personalities.
For the first time viewer, though, it could be confusing to keep track of the vital threads of the story - Hilda and Viderik planning to escape - while all the rambunctious dancing is taking place, but it's pretty clear what happens when Act 3 begins anyway.
Though Bojeson looks tiny next to Greve, the partnership works beautifully in this ballet, for her strong, but sweet Hilda is a perfect compliment to his tall, handsome Øve. Greve's first Bournonville grand jete was massive, and a bit startling, as there was a great hollow thud on the landing. I would presume that he landed directly on the trap door, thus the unexpected loudness of the landing.
Both here and in the other two acts, the corps was at a high level, with energetic, neat footwork in the dances and equal energy focused into the mime and characterization. When I first saw " A Folk Tale" in early 2004, I was struck by a one the young corps members, whose presence, charm and dancing skills stood out. He turned out to be Dawid Kupinksi, recently promoted to soloist. Kupinski reprised the 'role' of the main peasant, and again made a more minor role a real delight to watch (not to mention his nimbleness at the rotund troll...).
The pas de sept was fantastic, combining the footwork of Thomas Lund with the airy jetes of Andrew Bowman and the precise tours & pirouettes of Nicolai Hansen. Diana Cuni, Lesley Culver, Femke Mølbach Slot and Amy Watson completed the septet. If there is one fault, it's int he quick end to the third act. It seems like the ballet rushes to an end after the pas de sept, and it would be nice to see more wedding festivities, and more of the enchanting Wedding Waltz.
Tonight is the gala and I will post my comments as soon as I am awake and able to type in the morning!