CriticalDance Forum

Copenhagen Diary: March 25 - April 13
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Author:  ksneds [ Fri Apr 11, 2008 6:22 pm ]
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As my trip draws to a close, I was privileged to see another performance of "Onegin" with Yao Wei and Jean-Lucien Massot in the principal roles.

Yao Wei gave another superb performance, demonstrating the sparkling technique and moving emotional presence that has earned her plaudits in the Danish press. Her dancing in "Swan Lake" last season was a showcase of her impressive technique, but as Tatiana, Yao Wei has given notice that she is a complete ballerina. She is not longer a star in the making - she is a star. In Onegin, she not only dances with a sparkling grace, but through her dance and acting, develops a character to an emotional crescendo. It was this emotional development that I felt was lacking from her Odette in 2006, and Yao's improvement in this respect has taken her to a new level. The step she has taken is what differentiates a dancer with technical ability from a ballerina, and importantly a soloist from a principal. Many dancers can do the steps, few can do them beautifully and interpolate the emotion into them.

Much credit should go Jean-Lucien Massot, and to the stagers (including Jane Bourne who is most glaringly omitted from the glossy print program, and Reid Andersen) for their astute pairing of dancers in "Onegin". While I prefer Mads Blangstrup's interpretation of the title role - few dancers can match his emotional commitment to a character - to my eye, Massot & Yao Wei are a far finer partnership than Blangstrup and Gurdun Bojesen. The latter pair were hardly unimpressive, but they simply lacked the inspiring chemistry of the former.

Bojesen & Blangstrup are technically beautiful and are committed performers, but as a pair, they never had my heart in my mouth as did Massot and Yao Wei. Massot seems to support Yao, providing a strong, masculine counterpart to her willowy delicateness. Cranko's choreography is not for the faint of heart, and no matter the talent of a ballerina, she cannot succeed without a partner she completely trusts - and Yao seems to have found that trust in Massot. If there is any complaint in their performance, it's that the pair have not yet matched the timing of the soaring floor to sky split lift in the final pas de deux with the musical crescendo. Bojesen and Blangstrup, who have been paired in the roles before, timed the lift perfectly on Thursday evening, and there are few words to describe the emotional impact.

In watching Massot a second time, I find better words to describe his interpretation of the role. Blangstrup, brought up in the Bournonville tradition, emotes through his face, his eyes, his hands, his kinetic dancing. He's very slight dancer, though all lithe muscle, and thus relies on the projecting of emotion through mime and body/facial language to empower his stage presence. On the other hand, Massot has a steelier face with a lesser emotional range, but he makes use of his more solid physique to bring emotional power to his characterisation. He's economic with gesture, convey meaning through a change in posture or sweep of the arm.

I've never thought of Massot as a great technician, but watching him in performance and rehearsal, I have been impressed by his double tours. Though he has had some off moments, he generally has the power to get well up in the air so his rotation finishes in time for a clean and unrushed landing in 5th position. It's a contrast to many dancers, who have to eke out the last bit of rotation as they come back into contact with the floor.

Opposite Femke Mølbach Slot, who was excellent in her third performance of Olga in as many nights, was the company's budding talent, Charles Andersen. Henrik Lyding in the Jyllands-Posten musingly suggests that Andersen might be a "Romeo in his infancy" (less literally, a budding Romeo). Neumeier's "Romeo and Juliet" returns to the rep next season, and a debut by Andersen would be entirely fitting and an event NOT to be missed.

Both Lyding and Vibeke Wern in the Berlingske praise Andersen (and of course Yao Wei) in his debut, though Wern comments that Andersen does have room for improvement in his partnering, specifically the lifts. The pas de deux in the first act did appear smoother tonight, though I agree with Wern that this is an area in which Andersen is less profecient. Yet, for a 20 year old first year corps dancer, this was as impressive a performance as Yao Wei's stunningly emotional interpretation of Tatiana was for a 23 year old soloist (hopefully soon to be principal!!). ... 704100023/

Author:  ksneds [ Sat Apr 12, 2008 1:41 pm ]
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I happened to have the TV on, and as a part of the comedy/talk show (Comedy 3's Fight Club), a number of men are receiving an 'intro to ballet' from Nikolaj Hübbe.

The concept seems to be that the men have to learn some basic ballet steps to put on a small performance. I can only understand some of the Danish, but it's worth watching just to see the guys' jaws drop when some of the RBD's dancers demonstrated bravura moves (Sebastian Kloborg in beats and a menage of grand jetes and Tim Matiakis showing turns in seconds into pirouettes).

The episode concludes with a "gala performance" including a "critique" by Eric Aschengreen, the renowned critic and an audience of RDB dancers (Elisabeth Dam, Alexander Stæger?, and Maria Stokholm among others).

I'm not entirely sure where this is being filmed, but it looks like it's one of the big studios down on the lower floors of the Royal Theatre backstage complex. They're not normally used for dance, but there seems to be a piano moved in and a strip of temporary flooring rolled out. The 'performance' is not in the Royal Theatre (old stage), but in one of the newer stages.

You can see the show here (clips of the RDB dancers around minute 4:30 to 5):

Mostly unrelated, there is a big party tonight at the theatre to celebrate the release of the special issue of Cover (a style magazine), which includes a 30+ page supplement solely on Hübbe.

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