Greetings from Copenhagen
A brief note about Kulturkanon, a special celebration of Danish art which took place tonight at Operaen in Copenhagen. It included music, film, dance, spoken word and film clips representing Danish architecture, music, song, paintings, film and literature. The evening was televised live on DR1.
The finale of the first act - and my main interest - was a performance of Flemming Flindt's "Enetime" (The Lesson) with Johan Kobborg, Gudrun Bojesen and Silja Schandorff. "Enetime", which tells the story of a predatory ballet teacher and his unfortunate student/victim, is not for the faint of heart. Down in the bowels of grungy ballet studio the eager student becomes the victim of her sadistic teacher and his reluctant piano-player accomplice.
The evening provided my first live glimpse of Kobborg, who has been touring this ballet with the "Kings of Dance" performances and has also performed it recently with the Royal Ballet in London. Though not a tall dancer, he has imense presence on the stage and his twisted malevolence was a perfect foil for Bojeson's enthusiastic, naive ballet student. From the beginning this a fractured fairy tale of a ballet - the steps at the bar are off center, disjointed and not what one is used to, a la "Konservatoriet" or "Etudes". Schandorff, in the essentially non-dancing role of the accompaniast, showed off considerable acting skills, all stiff, unflinching disapproval.
It was a lovely evening at the Opera House, which is a wonderfully peaceful location for performances. With the exception, perhaps, of the Sydney Opera House, this must be the only opera house where one can stand outside and not hear the sounds of cars whizzing by. The peace here is broken only by the harbor taxis chugging by, as there are no major/busy roads close by.
A side note:
When this ballet was performed in London last year, it was accompanied by all sorts of warnings and purposely not scheduled for matinees. Yet I did not find it nearly so disturbing as the London reaction would have one believe. The Danes' lack of fuss is refreshing, and I would suggest, healthier. If this ballet is perceived to be worse than all the violence, sex and foul language kids see in TV and on movies everyday, that we have our priorities wrong.