Far from Denmark (with Le Conservatoire)
Royal Danish Ballet
Det Kongelige Teater
8th June 2005
This is the story of Wilhelm, a handsome Danish sea captain, dallying with a beautiful Argentinean girl, Rosita, and putting to the back of his mind the fact that he has a fiancée back home. Rosita also has a local admirer, Alvar, who prowls around the stage in a permanent state of jealous outrage. Ole the boatswain arrives with letters from home, including one from Wilhelm’s fiancée, but this is ignored, as he is too busy with Rosita.
In the second act, a ball is taking place on the deck of Wilhelm’s frigate, to which Rosita, her father the Consul, Alvar, and a host of local dignitaries have been invited. Wilhelm is wearing Spanish costume to impress Rosita but is forced to ruin his nice outfit when the headstrong Rosita throws her fan into the sea, announcing that she will give her love to whoever retrieves it. Earlier that day Wilhelm had dropped his engagement ring that Rosita had promptly tied to the ribbons of her fan, so there’s nothing else for it if he wants his ring back he’s going to have to get wet; Wilhelm dives in and successfully emerges with her fan. However, deciding that perhaps Rosita is potentially too much of a handful, Wilhelm hands her over to Alvar
My verdict on this ballet was that of all Bournonville’s works, this one is definitely not for export. There is far more mime than dance and much of the national dances with blacked up performers would prove embarrassing to modern audiences. There are some good points though and I loved the two cheeky midshipmen Poul and Edvard danced by Dian Cuni and Izabela Sokolowska who provided the highlight of act one with their dance with the “negroes” (sic).
The second act divertissement featured Eskimo, Chinese, and American Indian dances, all of which I found rather uncomfortable to watch. The sailors also dance a hornpipe and perform a kind of “crossing the line” ceremony, dressed up as Neptune and his sea creatures. The second act was visually the more attractive with a handsome shipboard set decked with Danish flags. You couldn’t fault the enthusiasm of the dancers who threw themselves into those somewhat outlandish dances with vigour. The principals were good with Marie-Pierre Grieve as a smouldering Rosita and Ib Jeppeson as her admirer, Wilhelm. Jeppeson’s dive into the sea to rescue Rosita’s fan was truly spectacular and I’m still wondering how it was done and whether there was a group on hand to catch him or maybe a pile of mattresses. Either way I was very impressed.
After this ballet, I asked around the knowledgeable ballet goers in the audience for a second opinion, but I’m afraid all seemed to give it the thumbs down, so it seems that “Far From Denmark” is the one miss to offset the other hits.