CriticalDance Forum

Copenhagen Diary: March 25 - April 13
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Author:  ksneds [ Wed Mar 26, 2008 12:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Copenhagen Diary: March 25 - April 13

I'm in Copenhagen for the next few weeks, and will be posting on my experiences, primarily the performances.

First installment to come later tonight...Don Q

Author:  ksneds [ Wed Mar 26, 2008 6:28 pm ]
Post subject: 

Don Quixote
Gamle Scene, Royal Theatre
March 26, 2008

The key to enjoying the ballet "Don Quixote" is not to worry about the storyline. It stops, starts, meanders and goes off into dreamland. It's the dancing that counts. And the Royal Danish Ballet was more than satisfactory in that regard.

The Royal Danish Ballet has performed "Don Quixote" in past years, but this season the company has staged Alicia Alonso's version of the classic. Jens-Jacob Worsaae's sets, however, have been retained from a previous incarnation in 1989, and do not serve the ballet well. Whilst the backdrop of spanish-style building roofs is pleasant enough, the somber faux-brick wings are more highway-overpass than Spanish village. With only a few chairs and tables between the backdrop and the front of the stage, there was nothing to create the needed illusion of a bustling village. Even the colorful costumes and superb mime skills of the dancers couldn't quite create a warmth out of the cold sets.

This production is similar to that of Petipa and Gorsky - Kitri loves the poor Basil, but her father wishes her to marry the rich, foppish Gamache. She and Basil run away to prevent the marriage, and take shelter with a band of gypsies. Along the way, the Don becomes involved, and mistakes Kitri for Dulcinea, his ideal love. While the young lovers dancer with gypsies, the Don sleeps and dreams of Kitri as his Dulcinea, in dream sequence full of dryads. Eventually, the Gamache's soldiers catch up with the lovers, but the day is saved when the Don intervenes, and Basil fakes his suicide, and Kitri convinces the priest to marry her to her 'dying' lover. All well, the lovers, villagers, gypsies et al dance away the wedding night.

Leading the cast were the opening night Kitri, Diani Cuni, and Tim Matiakis. Cuni is one of the gems of the company; a dancer who has long deserved - along with Tina Højlund - a promotion to principal. She's a strong, if deceptively delicate seeming dancer, but her wiry power is tempered with a rare, refined musicality. In her solos she showed off that special connection with the music, dancing with panache, yet always in harmony with Henrik Vagn Christensen's tempos. Cuni pulled off the 32 fouettes in the final solo, in addition to being particularly stunning in the tricky pointe work.

[In contrast to Yao Wei. Yao Wei was quite beautiful in her debut as the Queen of the Dryads, but her dancing at times seemed to be just ever so slightly at odds with the music, rather than being impelled by the music. She also had notably loud pointe shoes as compared to any other dancer...]

On the other hand, Basil is perhaps not the best showpiece for Matiakis' talents as a dancer. He's got the swagger, but the choreography for Basil places more of an emphasis on jumps than turns. And it is in turns where Matiakis is sensational. I would certainly disagree with comments elsewhere than he's not a jumper - from what I've seen, his amplitude and height are at a level with any other dancer in the company. He does, however, have a very compact physique, so his jumps don't always have the appearance of being as stretched or sleek in line. But that's not to say that can he can't be very elegant - in his solos there were a couple of gorgeous, soaring assembles and tour jetes that seemed to come from nowhere, and landed very softly. And, while his menage of grand jetes was not outstanding in terms of height, there was no loss of amplitude at the end and a careful attention to pointed feet.

I'm not sure to what extent Cuni and Matiakis had a chance to rehearse together, but there were certainly some shaky moments. Cuni clearly was not confident about the balances (for whatever reason), with much trembling of supporting arms. In the end, she omitted almost all of the unsupported balances. There were also a couple of other slight uncertainties in the partnering including a press lift that went up shakily and came down too soon, yet at other points it was beautifully smooth. This including a spectacular split to catch to fish dive to end the wedding pas de deux. I think that Cuni is probably not an ideal match for Matiakis - she's just a bit too tall to make the partnering work perfectly.

In the secondary roles of Espada and Mercedes, Mads Blangstrup and Amy Watson were also a bit hot and cold. Watson is not the most musical of dancers, but the role of Mercedes suits her power and panache to a T. Blangstrup on the other hand, has a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde quality to his performances. There are times - in particular in his signature role as James in "La Sylphide" where he's utterly stunning in dance and acting. He's got the looks, the refinement, the gorgeous technique, superb acting stills and elegant lines. On a good day in the right role, he's one of the best in the world.

Yet, much like NYCB's Damian Woetzel a few years ago, there are days when he seems to be barely there; just 'phoning in' his performance. Back in the last Bournonville Festival, his performance in the spanish flavoured 'La Ventana' was frustratingly bland. His final scene as James can rip your heart in half with the intensity of the emotion, but he could barely raise a pulse as a flashy matador.

To be fair, part of the issue may be the Jekyll and Hyde act Blangstrup's back has been doing - he's had two extended absences in the last few years due to back problems. However, I think it also takes the right role to get the best out of Blangstrup and Espada lies somewhere in the middle.

As Espada, he started out on a high. The cape-twirling choreography is not one of the strengths of the production, but Blangstrup dove into the role with flair. We got to the best of his long lines combined with crisp steps. Then he seemed to flame out just a bit, with a couple of very loose jumps that were not finished with the precision he's capable of.

I was not overly impressed with his 3rd act solo. However, he did attack it with a focused intensity, and my disliked had more to do with the choreography and the hideous costume. Blangstrup was coated from chin to toe in black, the overly ornamented, sparkly bolero top most unflattering as it made his legs look short (and they are not!). Black jacket and tights are fine, but it needs a contrasting colour shirt and a much lower cut neck. Strangling a dancer isn't conducive to a high quality performance!

The corps had a few loose moments, but the overall quality of the performance suggested that a lot of rehearsal time had been put into the production. The women, especially, have a pleasing unity in line and motion. Compared to many top companies where the corps often seem to be a patchwork of styles, the RDB is a rarity in having a corps that has a cohesive style.

There were a few more timing glitches in the male corps, but the men some standout moments when difficult moves were done in perfect synch. Not an easy task with 6 men of differing heights. Morten Eggert continues to shine in every role, and out of the corps Eliabe D'Abadia and Alban Lendorf caught my eye. D'Abadia, a Brazilian is a gifted actor and can sell a performance. Lendorf, who I remember back a student in the school, appears to have grown both in height and artistic maturity. Marcin Kupinski also blasted out a couple of jaw-dropping high grand jetes.

Alexander Stæger's gypsy solo was very impressive, given that he's probably half a foot taller than most dancers who perform the role in other countries. He might not be as fast or as spectacular as some, but getting well over 6ft of body through some of the bravura moves, and doing it was little apparent effort, is impressive enough! Stæger is one of the ones to watch, and hopefully his efforts will be rewarded sooner rather than later. Opposite him, Alba Nadal added spice and solid turns as Graciosa.

And finally, the ballet would not be complete without the Don himself, played with utter dignity by Mogens Boesen. As with most versions, the Don has little to do, but the story would not exist without his journey. This production opens with a scene of the Don upon a wire horse, an image that Boesen - easily the tallest dancer in the company - made powerful and poignant by his ramrod straight posture and sheer presence. In the dream sequence, the Don partners Kitri, and despite the massive height difference, Boesen handled with lifts and shoulder sit without a hitch. His combination of character skills and still solid technique are an illustration of why the RDB's character dancers are so valuable to the company.

Author:  ksneds [ Fri Mar 28, 2008 5:46 pm ]
Post subject: 

Lost on Slow and Sylfiden
March 28, 2008

In one of the finest programs I've seen yet from the Royal Danish Ballet, the company performed the newest piece in the repertoire, and one of the oldest. It's often difficult to find a companion piece for 'Sylfiden' (La Sylphide) because while the ballet is too short for a whole evening, it's too long to pair with many single act pieces. Jorma Elo's "Lost on Slow", which is neither lost nor slow, is a perfect fit for the 'before the sylphs' slot. This was my first exposure to Elo, with my memory being that reviews of his pieces for other companies were decidedly mixed. Based on this ballet, there's no question about Elo's talent - he's exciting, original, fresh and has a great eye for choosing the right dancers for his style.

The piece, set to music by Vivaldi, is a 20-minute marathon for both dancers and the solo violinist (the outstanding Mikkel Futtrup, making - I believe - his debut in the solo). The stage is obliquely lit (Thomas Bek Jensen) by smoky light pouring in through a slit that expands as the two sections of the backdrop split apart horizontally.

Both Elo's choreographic palette and Annette Nørgaard's stunning costumes suggest at classic ballet, but with an entirely modern outlook. The trio of women are clad utterly gorgeous classical pancake tutus - metallic toned with shades of blue or red woven into the design - tiara like headpieces, and soft slippers. Opposite them, then men are shiny pants - metallic or blue hued, with sleeveless metallic tunic tops.

Silence starts the piece, a single dancer (Kizzy Howard) spasmodically moving and stopping. As the first strains of Vivaldi emanate from the orchestra pit, the rest of the dancers come alive. From there, Elo splits up his ballet into a series of vignettes - a solo here, the full sextet, then a trio or a duo. His choreography is grounded in the classical, but Elo's movement draws from his background in Graham and Cunningham styles. Limbs are often held stiffly at angles, moved as if the doll in Coppelia, arms fluttering. The effect is heightened by keeping the women in soft shoes despite the tutus - without the restriction of blocky pointe shoes, the women can create different shapes out of their bodies. Many might consider pointe shoes the very definition of ballet, but here one often didn't even notice their absence. Additionally, the RDB dancers have gorgeous feet, but outside of class one rarely gets to see the women's feet in soft shoes, so it was a welcome change to see their lines unencumbered by pointe shoes.

What really stands out here is Elo's choice of cast- intriguingly enough (for this cast) all non-Danish. Amy Watson, the newest principal, is the senior female dancer, and the piece suits her crisp power. Vivaldi's music can reach near hectic crescendos, but Watson has the fast feet and control to make every position stand out despite the speed of the steps. Alba Nadal and Kizzy Howard completed the female trio; both are dancers perfectly suited to the blend of classic and contemporary.

However, it was the men who made the biggest impression. Whilst he may have looked just a bit out of his comfort zone in 'Don Quixote', Tim Matiakis seems to made for Elo. Unburdened by the need to create a specific character, he could focus on the dance itself. And focus he did, putting his full power and energy into every sequence. Christopher Rickert, one of the emerging talents in the corps, seemed to come into his own here, at one point soaring into a breathtakingly high double-rotation jump.

The real star of the evening - and one of the brightest talents in the company, I think - was Charles Andersen. Trained at the Anaheim Ballet and the Royal Ballet School, Andersen joined the company two years ago, and at just 20 (21?), already has impressive technique and stage presence. His name suggests at Danish heritage, and he has the tall, long limbed physique shared by many of the Danes in the company. Andersen's elegant lines are matched by an expressive face and hands. With a body near perfect for ballet, he shines in both adagio and fast paced bravura dancing, plus appears to be a capable partner. He reminds me much of Mads Blangstrup, both having a dance style that mixes technical skill with extreme, flowing expressiveness. Thus far, I have only seen Andersen in non-Bournonville pieces, so I will be interested to see how he fares in Bournonville when the repertoire returns in future seasons.

The evening's Sylfiden was solidly danced, if not the finest performance ever given at the Royal Theatre. This was the 802nd performance of the company's signature work, and the final performance of Sylfiden prior to the gala farewell (as a dancer) for Nikolaj Hübbe next Wednesday.

While I can't fault the dancing - two big gripes. One, whilst it may be partially due to lack of time to work on costumes, something MUST be done about the overly long kilts in 'La Sylphide'. Blangstrup, as James, was the only dancer who appeared to have paid any attention to the instructions given about the appropriate length. Kilts should hang just to the top of the knee - mid kneecap at the longest - and longer kilts look silly, totally un-authentic and flap around oddly during the dancing. No excuses - and the worst offenders were the ones who should know better - Julien Ringdahl, Alexander Stæger and Fernando Mora. Yes, shorter kilts do mean more is visible during the dancing, but only James and Gurn have any substantial solos, and the black briefs worn under the kilts cover more than many complete costumes!

In addition, while the orchestra sounded fine, I've never heard a performance with more rustling of papers, items dropped and general non-music noise from the pit. Please - Løvemskjold's score is one of the finest - it doesn't need to be marred by extraneous noise.

The performance was led by Gudrun Bojesen and Mads Blangstrup. Bojesen is a rather earthly Sylphide, but gently playful and utterly earnest. One of the company's finest Bournonville technicians, Bojesen has the delicacy of foot and soft, but elegantly supported port de bras that are so classic of Bournonville.

This evening showed off Mads Blangstrup's balletic gifts. Technically, this wasn't his finest performance of the role; he's still not long returned from an extended absence due to injury. Yet, when it comes to emotional power, he has no equal - at least that I've seen. Emotions flicker across his face and through his body like lightning bolts - the tentative groom to be, the ecstatic smile of the man enraptured by the Sylph, and the utter, inconsolable grief of one who has condemned his beloved to death. The sheer intensity of the emotion Blangstrup is able to convey is breathtaking, and the drama comes to height in his penultimate battle with Lis Jeppesen's Madge. [Jeppesen, a slight dancer, seems to grow when she embodies the character of Madge.]

In their final confrontation, the two come face to face, each with arms upraised in anger. There is a brief pause before Madge wins the confrontation, James collapsing at her feet. The tension was electric in these interminable seconds, fueled by an invisible, but palpable connection radiating from the tense muscles and two sets of eyes locked on each other. In just a few seconds, Jeppesen and Blangstrup conveyed a novel's worth of emotion. The ability to create such a moment is special gift that only a few dancers possess. The depth of the characterisations is all the more evident in rehearsal, when devoid of almost all props, costumes and sets, the story and the emotion are as clear as ever.

As ever, the female corps de ballet is at its best in La Sylphide. This was neither the finest nor quietest performance, but the unity of the corps is beautiful. In particular, in the final sequence marked by slow raising and lowering of arms, there seemed to be single inhalation and exhalation controlling each and every arm. Much credit should be given to the dancers and the coaches.

As a note, this performance come the day after the release of Anne Middleboe Christensen's new book 'Finding the Syphide', a gorgeous volume which is the source of all information on 'La Sylphide'. In addition the extensive text, there are beautiful black and white images, all taken in the course of one day's rehearsal and performance of 'La Sylphide' with Blangstrup opposite Caroline Cavallo. The text is all in Danish, and unfortunately, as a result, the book is not likely to be available outside of Denmark except by special order. The cost is around $60, but well worth it for the quality of pictures and the extensive text on the ballet.

Another note - in a moment of procrastination, I did a search to find the names for the tartans used in this production. James and his family are in Murray of Atholl and Gurn in a Dress Macleod and Effy in a MacIver.

Finally, kudos again to Henrik Vagn Christensen, who is one of the top ballet conductors around.

Author:  ksneds [ Sat Mar 29, 2008 5:51 pm ]
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In honor of Nikolaj Hübbe's farewell as a dancer, I will post a number of times between now and Wednesday with memories, reviews and thoughts about his years as a dancer.

Brief Bio

1967 - born
1988-1992 - principal dancer with the Royal Danish Ballet
1992-2008 - principal dancer with the New York City Ballet
2003 - stages La Sylphide for RDB
2004 - stages La Sylphide for Ballet Arizona

La Sylphide
By my count, Hübbe was the 31st dancer to perform the role of James. He was 21/22 at the time of his debut on October 3, 1988, which came less than a month after Gregory Osborne's first performance and was followed two months later by the debut of Julio Bocca. [Only 9 more dancers have danced the role in the twenty years since - this is not a role awarded lightly]

In her book, Christensen includes a review of this performance in which the Det fri Aktuelt critic Birth Johansen characterises Hübbe's James as 'fuldkommen', which translates as 'complete' or 'perfect'.

Hübbe's own staging of the ballet premiered on September 20, 2003 at the Royal Theatre. With sets by Mikael Melbye, lighting by Jørn Melin, the staging was the 14th version of the ballet danced at the theatre.

Personal memories
I first saw Nikolaj Hübbe dance with the New York City Ballet. My collection of programs is in a box back on the other side of the Atlantic, so I can't pin down the date, but it was probably in the early or mid 1990s. For a number of years in the early 2000s, I managed to miss Hübbe's performances because he was always injured, ill or otherwise not dancing when I attended the ballet. (all quotes are my own unless otherwise specified)

In 2002, I wrote: "...I found this commentary on Hübbe, which I made back in 2002:

"Nikolaj Hubbe is a terrific dancer! He's unique at NYCB in being one of just a handful of dancers who weren't trained at SAB (Beskow, Macovici, Ritter, LaFosse, Robertson). It's too bad that we didn't get to see more of him this past year-I think he's been dealing with injuries on and off over the past year. He's about 35, and I think the knee injury he suffered awhile back has limited certain aspects of his dancing. However, he has a passion for dancing that is obvious in the depth he brings to his roles. His "Poet" in La Sonnambula is my absolute favorite and he was wonderful in "Who Cares". (I hope to see him in "Apollo" some day). He's also one of the few principals at NYCB that can really do the full-length character roles. I would have loved to see him in "Swan Lake"-even if I didn't like Martins' version very much. Ulrik Wivel, a NYCB alum and friend of Hubbe's, did a short film on Hubbe this past year which was shown at a film festival in NYC. It focused on Hubbe's journey in seeking the job of Aristic Director of the Royal Danish Ballet. Hubbe did not get the position, and not suprisingly is not happy about that fact. Hubbe also just joined the permanent faculty at the School of American Ballet. As one of the few RDB alums, and persons knowledgeable about Bournonville NYCB and SAB, he is great resource."

La Sonnambula
However, one of my indelible memories is of having the great privilege to watch him in a rehearsal and performance of Balanchine's "La Sonnambula" in 2002. One of the trademarks of his performance is the beautifully arched position he achieves when he bends over backwards, his hands looped around the sleepwalker. As his hands slide down, the arch increases, and Hübbe is one of the few dancers who can bend completely backwards, and he never looks strained or awkward.

"...Hubbe gives a touch to the role that is missing in Boal's interpretation. When the Poet has his hands encircling the sleepwalker, he arches over backwards as she "floats" away. When I saw Hubbe in the role, he slowly arched over backwards, in perfect timing with the swell of the music...I'm sure it's not an easy move, but holding out the back arch makes it much more effective and poignant..."

Twilight Courante
In the spring of 2002, I saw Hübbe in the premiere of Stephen Baynes' "Twilight Courante". Unfortunately, my review doesn't mention much about him...

"Who Cares"
"...Hubbe and Ringer were spectacular in the "Man I Love" pas de deux. Hubbe does not have the long lines of a dancer like Philip Neal, but he gives the role a stunning intensity and passion. His eyes were focused on Ringer for the entire pas de deux, and his passion brings out the best in her dancing. Hubbe was also wonderful in his "Liza" solo. It's been a long time since I've seen him in a role with this much dancing, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much height he still gets and the punch his dancing projects. He's not a natural spinner, but didn't try to push it beyond his limits, so though the pirouettes were not fast, they were beautiful and balanced. Hubbe also has gorgeous carriage and nice, fast beats..."

Swan Lake
In the spring of 2003, after he'd recovered from an on-stage knee injury during a performance of "Jeu de Cartes", I saw Hübbe in Martins' "Swan Lake":
"Of particular joy, was the return of Nikolaj Hubbe from a serious knee injury, who danced a solid, quirky Russian Dance with Yvonne Borree."

Author:  ksneds [ Sun Mar 30, 2008 3:14 pm ]
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In the fall of 2005, New York City Ballet returned for a long weekend of performances at Tivoli. I was fortunate to see two of the performances, one of which included a performance of "Zakouski" with Nikolaj Hübbe. What still remember about that performance was the enthusiasm of the crowd towards Hübbe. Despite having left Denmark more than 15 years ago for NYCB, he clearly is still beloved here:

"Martins' "Zakouski" is a trifle choreographically, but Nikolaj Hübbe, dancing in front of an adoring crowd, made it worthwile. Created on him, shortly after his arrival at NYCB, it plays to his strengths - quick beats and powerful movements - while allowing for some playful moments between him and Yvonne Borree. And Hübbe proved, that at 38, he is stil a magnificent dancer."

Author:  ksneds [ Mon Mar 31, 2008 3:55 pm ]
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Don Quixote
March 31, 2008

Sometimes it's amazing how different two performances of the same ballet can be - even when the casts are almost identical. Last Wednesday, Diana Cuni and Tim Matiakis led a spirited cast in "Don Quixote", but the performance never really sparked. Tonight, due to a much more lively audience and a host of inspired performances, the Royal Danish Ballet presented a sensational evening of dance.

Tim Matiakis and Diani Cuni in the title roles, have clearly been working hard over the last few days, because the wobbles and shakes of last week were gone. It's still clear that Cuni is not comfortable with long balances, but tonight she was able to balance a little in each section, and without overly long preparations. The wobbly lifts of last week were also replaced with lifts that if not radiating complete confidence, were sure and solid. Matiakis, too, upped his performance a notch, the double turns in his solo looking better rotated and more cleanly landed. Among the high notes in his performances were a couple of gorgeous delayed (hitch) split jumps. But what was most obvious was the increased intensity, and the bouyant response of the audience.

Mads Blangstrup may have been every so slightly off his peak last week, but tonight he was nothing less than sensational. His Espada is intense, cocky and a bit mysterious; a toreador who's gotten his way with the bulls and the women, and knows it. In both his Act 1 and Act 3 solos, Blangstrup danced as if every fibre in his body was coursing with electricity, eyes flashing, not a foot out of place. His performance was matched by that of Amy Watson, an equal in intensity of dance and mastery of the flashing glance over the shoulder.

Blangstrup also was able to insert a little dry humour - in the chaos when the villagers are trying to prevent Kitri from being married to Gamache, Lorenzo (her father) grabs what he thinks is his daughters hand, placing it on that of Gamache who's too much in a rush to have the Priest get going to look at his "bride". It's not Kitri, but Espada, and in the few seconds before Gamache realises the mix-up, Blangstrup glances over at the audience and with perfect comic timing lifts his eyebrows with a slight shrug of the shoulders as if to say "I'm not sure what's going to happen, but what the heck". It's a moment of mime that adds a huge amount to the action, and it's done perfectly.

Speaking of mime, the performance of Flemming Ryberg as Gamache turns what could be a one-joke character into something with a bit more depth.

In the only major cast changes, Gudrun Bojesen was a delicate Queen of the Dryads, with Rebecca Labbé an enchanting Amor. Labbé is one to watch in the corps - a tiny, blond bundle of power. Her technique still needs some polishing, but she dances with a 1000-watt smile and special spark. Cuni was gorgeous in this act - Mogens Boesen partners her with elegance despite a huge difference in height. In addition, the long, gauzy tutu floats around her with a slight delay so that adds softness to the movement.

The corps earned their applause, though there were a few loose moments, especially amongst the Act 2 Dryads.

The least flattering of the costumes -- other than Espada's Act III black nightmare -- is that of Amor. It's best described as a flesh colored mini-toga with a pair of sylph wings tacked on the back. One of the prettiest costumes is Graciosa's multi-coloured dress. The nearly floor length, round cut skirt of the dress is made of the brightly coloured vertical panels in light, silky material. Thus, when she does her sequence of turns in Act 2, the dress swirls around her, opening up so that full rainbow of colours is visible. It's a beautiful effect.

I also noticed tonight for the first time, the striking moment when the Don appears to rise from his own sleeping body. After the windmill sequence, the Don is escorted back onstage to sleep off his adventures. This Don is a double, and the real Don hides next to him, and illuminated in ghostly green light, rises up from behind. Tonight Mogen Boesen did it with perfect timing so the effect was a bit spine tingling.

Author:  ksneds [ Tue Apr 01, 2008 12:56 pm ]
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As I've just returned from an Onegin marathon of sorts - two full run-throughs with a hour break between, I though it would be fitting to post the official press release:

Sæsonens sidste forestilling af Den Kongelige Ballet på Gamle Scene er den dramatiske og tragiske helaftensballet Onegin af John Cranko. Ballettens handling er fra Alexander Pushkins berømte versroman Eugene Onegin, som er en væsentlig del af den stolte russiske kultur- og litteratur arv. Rent faktisk er der ud fra denne versroman opstået et begreb – Onegin Stanza – som kendetegner en helt speciel verstype. Musikken til forestillingen er af Tjajkovskij (ikke at forveksle med Tjakovskijs partitur til operaen Eugene Onegin), bearbejdet af Kurt-Heinz Stolze. Bag den originale og smukke scenografi, som endelig kommer tilbage til Gamle Scene, står Jürgen Rose. At vi får fornøjelsen af den ypperste indpakning til denne forestilling er kun muliggjort via et særligt produktionssamarbejde med Den Kungliga Ballet i Stockholm.

Frank Andersen, balletmester:
”Onegin er en af de mest suveræne helaftensballetter. Perfekt i sin opbygning og struktur. Danserne skal benytte sig af alle deres særlige mimiske kundskaber og samtidig danse på et meget højt teknisk niveau. Forestillingens handling breder sig over 10 år – hvilket i sig selv er en stor udfordring. Det er det store følelsesregister vi skal igennem i dette fortættede kærlighedsdrama, men det gør også at forestillingen er som skræddersyet til Den Kongelige ballet.”

Onegin havde premiere på Det Kongelige Teater i 1989 og har senest spillet i 2002. Det er en smuk og smertelig handlingsballet, hvor det er lykkedes koreograf John Cranko at fange den russiske smerte i de lidenskabelige pas de deuxer og dramatiske, mørke roller, hvor de modne solodansere og kommende stjerner får plads til at vise nye dramatiske sider af deres talent. Det kan bl.a. nævnes at solist Yao Wei får debut i rollen som Tatiana og de unge korpsdansere Marcin Kupinski og Charles Andersen skal prøve kræfter med rollen som Lenski. Balletten er en sjælden helstøbt helaftensballet, der foruden det at være en rigtig god historie også kan tale til det mere intellektuelle publikum.

Author:  ksneds [ Tue Apr 01, 2008 1:46 pm ]
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Translation (mine, so there may be mistakes):

[quote]The season's last performance by the Royal Danish Ballet on Old Stage is the dramatic and tragic full-evening ballet "Onegin" by John Cranko. The ballet's story is from Alexander Pushkin's famous verse-novel Eugene Onegin, which is a essential part of the proud Russian culture - and literature legacy. As a matter of fact, from the verse-novel there has come a concept - Onegin Stanza - which characterizes a while special type of verse. The music for the production is by Tchaikovsky (not to be confused with Tchaikovsky's score for the opera Eugene Onegin), arranged by Kurt-Heinz Stolze. Behind the original and beautiful sets, which at long last return to Gamle Scene, stands Jürgen Rose. That we have the pleasure of the ? sets for this performance is only possible via the special production-agreement with the Royal Ballet of Sweden in Stockholm.

Frank Andersen, balletmaster:

'Onegin' is one of the most brilliant full-evening ballets. Perfect in its composition and structure. The dancers shall make use of all their special mime skills and together dance at a very high technical level. The performance story spreads over ten years - which is in itself a large challenge. It is a large emotional range we shall cover in this ? love-drama, but it makes it that the performance is tailored for the Royal Danish Ballet."

Onegin had its premiere at the ROyal Danish Ballet in 1989 and has most recently been performed in 2002. It is a beautiful and painful story-ballet, in which the successful choreographer John Cranko captures the rusian emotion in the passionate pas de deuxs and dramatic, dark roles. In these roles, the mature principals and the up-and-coming stars get a chance to show the new dramatic side of their talent. Among others, soloist Yao Wei will debut in the role of Tatiana and young corps dancers Marcin Kupinski and Charles Andersen will try their craft in the role of Lensky. The ballet is a rare ? full-evening ballet which besides being a good story, also can talk to the more intellectual audience"

Author:  ksneds [ Tue Apr 01, 2008 1:58 pm ]
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As a 'prep' for tomorrow's performance, I've been watching the DVD of Nikolaj Hübbe's performance in "La Sylphide' back from ca. 1989. It's fascinating to see a young Hübbe, and to see other dancers, many of whom will be dancing - or presumably present - tomorrow.

Among others, the Sylph is danced by Lis Jeppesen, who currently dances the role of Madge. Madge is played by Sorella Englund, who returns for a special performance as Madge tomorrow. In the DVD, the first sylph is danced by Silja Schandorff, who will be Hübbe's final sylphide.

Gurn is danced by former dancer (and husband to former dancer/company teacher Christina Olsson) Morten Munksdorf.

The sets are from an older production, and I think better capture the true nature of the Scottish highlands. Intriguingly, James' tartan looks like it may well be Dunbar, which is my family tartan.

You can see images from that production at David Amzallag's website: (along with photos from a previous RDB production of Onegin, albeit with different sets)

Author:  ksneds [ Wed Apr 02, 2008 3:39 pm ]
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Lost on Slow & La Syphide
Nikolaj Hübbe's final performance
April 2, 2008

The Royal Danish Ballet has bid farewell to one of their greatest dancers, and bid welcome to their next artistic director. It's fair to say that while this was his last dancing performance, Nikolaj Hübbe's proper farewell to the stage was several months ago in New York City. This evening was more of a welcome - a warm greeting to the next artistic director.

As with the prior 'La Sylphide' double bill, the evening began with Jorma Elo's "Lost on Slow" Tonight's cast included Jean-Lucien Massot and Fernando Mora along with Tim Matiakis, Kizzy Howard, Alba Nadal and Amy Watson. It's intriguing that neither cast has a single Dane. Is this a first for a Royal Danish Ballet production?

Mikkel Futtrup again was superb in the extended violin solo, backed by the Royal Danish Orchestra. Massot and Mora bring a slightly different asthetic to the piece than previous casts, with Mora, especially, giving his a role a brisk sensuality. Unfortunately, the piece continues to be plagued with technical issues - last week the curtain was lowered on the bowing dancers, tonight backstage lights were not turned off, illuminating parts of the rear stage area which should not have been visible.

But, what the sell-out audience was waiting for came in the last two acts. With Silja Schandorff stepping in as his Sylphide, and Sorella Englund returning to be his Madge, Nikolaj Hübbe took to the stage for the final time as a dancer. When he returns to the stage, it will be - at long last - as director of the company where he trained, danced and taught.

It was, perhaps, not the finest performance of "La Sylphide" the company has ever given, but it was the emotion that counted. And it was emotion that seemed to carry Hübbe and Schandorff through roles that physically challenge dancers half their age. Hübbe's jumps don't soar the way they used to, but his feet fly as fast as ever and his epaulment is simply gorgeous. His is a thoughtful James, never entirely convinced about marrying Effy, yet devoted to her until his thoughts turn to the Sylph. His final moments of emotional agony are heart-wrenching.

Englund's Madge is a marvel of detail woven into a character who is believable despite the outlandish appearance. It should be noted that Englund wore a costume which I presume is from the previous production - now on loan to the Royal Ballet in London, where Englund has danced the role. I assume that it did not make sense to create or alter a costume from this production for a single performance, especially given that Englund's costume did not look at all out of place.

Hübbe got loud roars of applause after each solo, but it was after the final curtain that the Danish audience (including past and present dancers, critics and balletomanes alike) poured out its appreciation. Curtain calls for the entire cast were followed by a solo curtain call for Hübbe during which he was showered in 'rainstorm' of gold confetti. The standing ovation, during which even her Majesty, Queen Margrethe rose to applaud, was accompanied by a little drum roll from the orchestra (for the Queen or Hübbe, I'm not entirely sure). Frank Andersen presented a large bouquet of flowers, accompanied by a long series of words with Hübbe.

The standing ovation, accompanied by the pounding of feet - a tradition here in Denmark - last for several more curtain calls, the final of which included the whole cast, clapping for Hübbe.

I think Hübbe really said his farewells in New York, and appeared overwhelmed by the response from the audience here. Though, the level of response should come as no surprise given the respect with which he is held in his native country. I hope the Hübbe views this evening not as a farewell, but as a resounding welcome (back).

Author:  ksneds [ Thu Apr 03, 2008 12:45 pm ]
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Vibeke Wern reviews the performance for the Berlingske: ... /80403097/

Included is a beautiful series of photos by David Amzallag who photographed the performance from the wings.

Henrik Lyding reviews for the Jyllands-Posten:

Mona Dithmer for the Politiken:

She adds, a rather odd section (see below), which appears to criticise the theatre for the lack of a festive farewell they gave to to Hübbe. I thought it was an appropriate and wonderful farewell - thunderous standing ovation led by the Queen of Denmark, numerous curtain calls, gold sparkles raining down, and a bouquet from the outgoing artistic director.

After all, Hübbe had already had a gala finale at the NYCB, which is where he actually spent more of his professional performing years than the RDB. And, he's not leaving the Royal Danish Ballet, so it's not like this was a farewell - as she's say's, it's really a welcome. Perhaps there's a little reluctance to admit that Hübbe's dancing career belongs more to NY than to Denmark at this stage. For the record, it is my understanding that Hübbe was feted by friends, his dancers and the Queen backstage after the curtain dropped.

Men hvorfor er Det Kgl. Teater så dårligt til at feste? Det er jo ikke alene et farvel til en danser af exceptionelt format, der vel at mærke lagde en stor del af sin karriere på Kgs. Nytorv, men også et goddag til en ny balletmesterepoke.

Det kvitterede man for med en sølle dusk og et kram fra afgående balletmester Frank Andersen. Til alt held har vi så dronningen, der i signalrød dragt stod op og klappede, ledsaget af en endeløs hujen og trampen fra gulv til galleri.

Rough (partial) translation:

"By why is the Royal Theatre so bad at celebrating? It is not just a farewell to a dancer of exceptional calibre, who spent a large part of his career at Kongens Nytorv, but also a welcome to a new balletmaster..."

Author:  ksneds [ Fri Apr 04, 2008 3:34 pm ]
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Don Quixote
April 4, 2008

Tonight's cast was almost identical to that of the previous two performances, with the exception of Anastasia Paschali as Amor, Hilary Guswiler as Dulcinea and Kenn Hauge as Sancho Panza. Gabor Baunoch replaced Hauge as Kitri's father. That and the fact that I was tired enough to nod off during a rehearsal of Onegin, mean that I'll just add a few brief thoughts tonight...

Last week's performance was definitely the strongest of the three Don Q's I've seen in Copenhagen. Tonight, Tim Matiakis and Diani Cuni were much stronger in the lifts, but some of the other partnering was a bit loose. One supported turn into a penchee courted disaster, and there were some minor timing bobbles.

Having had a chance to see the two perform several times, I'm not convinced that the choreography of the grand pas de deux does them any favours. Balances are not her strength - at least partnered with Matiakis - and the pas de deux seems to rely so heavily on balances as flashy moments that it seems a bit hollow when they're not done. But it's not just the balances - the choreography seems to be more posing and waving arms, with not much substance. Nonetheless, the couple got huge applause - and rightly so, as balances or not, it's a very long and difficult pas de deux.

Again, though, the real highlight of the evening were Mads Blangstrup & Amy Watson. Their dancing is defined by its flair, passion and precision - two performances that define what it takes to be a principal dancer.

Author:  ksneds [ Tue Apr 08, 2008 1:40 pm ]
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Casting has finally been posted, and I think both of the present casts are equally as appealing. There are no new Onegins - both Blangstrup and Massot took on the title role last time the company performed the ballet. Other 'veterans' include Gudrun Bojesen as Tatiana, and both Cecilie Lassen and Femke Mølbach Slot as Olga.

On opening night, Yao Wei will debut as Tatiana and Charles Andersen as Lensky. Audiences have seen Yao Wei's promise in such roles as Odette/Odie in "Swan Lake", but I think here it's Andersen who is the one to watch in Onegin. A product of the Anaheim Ballet and the Royal Ballet School, Andersen joined the company in 2006 as an apprentice. He was featured recently in Jorma Elo's "Lost on Slow". (And yes, as his name suggests, he has Danish heritage - his paternal grandfather is from Denmark).

There are mini-profies of Andersen from the Anaheim Ballet on YouTube:

9. april
Tatiana: Yao Wei
Onegin: Jean-Lucien Massot
Olga: Femke Mølbach Slot
Lenski: Charles Andersen
Gremin: Julien Ringdahl
Larina: Rose Gad
Amme: Lis Jeppesen

10. april
Tatiana: Gudrun Bojesen
Onegin: Mads Blangstrup
Olga: Cecilie Lassen
Lenski: Marcin Kupinski
Gremin: Byron Mildwater
Larina: Rose Gad
Amme: Jette Buchwald

11. april
Tatiana: Yao Wei
Onegin: Jean-Lucien Massot
Olga: Femke Mølbach Slot
Lenski: Charles Andersen
Gremin: Julien Ringdahl
Larina: Rose Gad
Amme: Lis Jeppesen

15. april
Tatiana: Gudrun Bojesen
Onegin: Mads Blangstrup
Olga: Julie Valentin
Lenski: Sebastian Kloborg
Gremin: Byron Mildwater
Larina: Mette Bødtcher
Amme: Jette Buchwald

16. april
Tatiana: Yao Wei
Onegin: Jean-Lucien Massot
Olga: Femke Mølbach Slot
Lenski: Charles Andersen
Gremin: Julien Ringdahl
Larina: Rose Gad
Amme: Lis Jeppesen

Author:  ksneds [ Wed Apr 09, 2008 6:17 pm ]
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April 9, 2008
Royal Theatre, Copenhagen

This evening, veteran dancers and talented newcomers combined for a stunning re-premiere John Cranko's poignant "Onegin". The Royal Danish Ballet is performing the ballet for the first time since 2002, and through a collaboration with the Royal Swedish Ballet has brought back the gorgeous Jurgen Rose sets and costumes. The first sets painted without asbestos, they are richly layered, sumptuous and vividly coloured.

Cranko's ballet is based on Pushkin's verse novel, but deftly simplifies and romanticizes the plot in order to make it comprehensible through dance. It's a tale of love - youthful, spurned, romantic, tragic and unattainable - and relationships that cannot be. Eugene Onegin is a man who has fled to the country to escape the balls and artifice of high society. He befriends his neighbour, the young poet Lensky. When Onegin is invited to meet Lensky's fiancee Olga, her oldest sister Tatiana falls in love with Onegin. Uninterested in Tatiana's affections, Onegin returns her love letter, but is invited to her 'name day' party. Thinking it to be an small family event, he is furious to turn up to a fancy ball. He seeks his revenge by flirting with Olga, but ends up infuriating the Lensky to the point that the young poet challenges him to a duel. In the dawn duel, Lensky is killed, and Onegin flees. Returning years later, Onegin spots the now married Tatiana at a ball, and realizes his love for her. He seeks her out, but despite still loving him, Tatiana is loyal to her husband and, in the end, orders Onegin away.

Cranko's ballet highlights the various facets of love in a series of duets, framed by lush sets. These sets, are richly layered, whether it's lacy curtains and decorated cornicing of Tatiana's bedroom, the fancy ballroom or the birch trees in the shady garden next to the Larin's house.

The four main characters - Onegin, Tatiana, Lensky and Olga - are the heart and soul of the piece. Returning as Onegin, Jean-Lucien Massot brings a brooding maturity to the role. His Onegin is a contemplative man of many experiences, much more world-weary than the 26-year old of Pushkin's novel. Massot, a darkly handsome dancer, expresses a great deal through simple movement and poses. He invests a great deal in each step of the choreography, but the emotional power is subtly conveyed. It's very much a less is more approach. While his technique may be starting to ever so slightly fade with age, his partnering skills remain superb. And there was no doubt about the chemistry with his Tatiana, Yao Wei.

In one of the two absolutely stunning debuts, Yao Wei gave a spine-tingling performance worthy of a principal dancer. Tatiana is a role of many challenges, both choreographic and artistic. Not only must the dancer conquer a series of long and intricate solos and pas de deuxs, she must also develop the character from a young, innocent girl to a mature woman. Yao Wei's performance was one of both sparkling dancing and heart-wrenching emotion. She was able to convey the fragile innocence of the young Tatiana, including the intricate mirror-pas de deux. Yet, she was equally as powerful in conveying the mature strength of the grown and married Tatiana. The final pas de deux sent chills up my neck, with the high lifts on the crescendos of Tchaikovsky's score and Tatiana's sobbing final refusal of Onegin. Mirroring his actions from the previous act, she tears up his letter, and points, trembling to the door. Once, tentatively, the second time with no doubt to the meaning: Go, I love you, but it cannot be, GO!. It was a performance that had my hands trembling, and as Yao Wei is only 23, we should hopefully have many, many more years of such performances in the future!

As Tatiana's younger sister Olga, Femke Mølbach Slot, reprised a role which she has danced at the Royal Danish Ballet and the Munich Ballet. It's a role that is deceptively difficult to bring to life because Olga is pivotal to the story, yet Pushkin gives her very little character (he all but calls her an airhead in his novel). A delicately attractive dancer with a beautiful smile, Slot brings to Olga an innocent sweetness that makes her childish love for Lensky endearing, but explains her willing flirtation with Onegin. Slot extended the delicacy to her dancing, which was solid technically, but attuned with just the right youthful air and daintiness. In her solos, and pas de deux with Lensky, it has the feeling a long gentle giggle - joyous, light and flowing.

However, whilst Yao Wei's performance was truly outstanding, her talent is well known. Thus, for me the stunning newcomer in Onegin was Charles Andersen as Lensky. In what I believe is his first year in the corps (he joined as an apprentice), Andersen already displays a level of attention character and technique far beyond his twenty years. He's perfect for Pushkin's romantic 18 year old poet, all long limbs and blond-haired Danish-Disney Prince looks. And his youth brings out the tragedy in the role - the agony of young life and love nipped at the bud.

Whilst his technique is still a work in progress - as it should be for such a young dancer - and there were a few rough moments, Andersen attacks the choreography with great emotional intensity. He also has gorgeous lines and flexibility. In Andersen's final solo, just prior to the duel, there comes a moment when he arches over, hands outstretched. At this moment, you could see his hands trembling. Whether from nerves, exhaustion or intentional, it was simply heart-wrenching and made the moment. Additionally, he beautifully matched with Slot, and an attentive, competent partner. Their long, flowing first act pas deux had a gentle, endearing quality.

Julien Ringdahl made the most of the roughly sketched role of Prince Gremin, Tatiana's husband. A company veteran, Ringdahl's elegant partnering and technique have lead him to a number of solo roles. The corps was also in fine form, sweeping through the party and ballroom scenes. The first act peasant dances seemed underpowered when paired with Tchaikovsky's powerful music, but I think it's Cranko's choroegraphy that is lacking, not the dancers. What Cranko does well, however, is to create little vignettes and character traits for the corps. And the RDB corps and character dancers take these opportunities and run with them. In the Act 2 party scene, in particular, the antics of the character dancers steal the scene - Henriette Brondshom's tottering granny, Mogen Boesen's aching-backed uncle, Kenn Hauge's elegant mustachioed, portly gentleman, Poul-Erik Hesselkilde's grumpy gent, Morten Eggert's young man confused by the attention of too many women, Rebecca Labbe's lonely girl who breaks out into a sweet smile when rescued by a Chris Rickert's romantic young man. Each are wonderfully individual, well-thought out characters. In so many ballets, large corps scenes often seem to be populated by carbon-copy characters. Here, with Cranko's choreography and the RDB's talented dancers, there are no clones to be seen!

Author:  ksneds [ Thu Apr 10, 2008 4:57 pm ]
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April 10, 2008
Royal Theatre, Copenhagen

The most difficult performance can often be the night after a major premiere or re-premiere. The Royal Danish Ballet's second performance of Cranko's "Onegin", though marked by several excellent performances, lacked the fire and polish of Wednesday's opening night.

The evening's major debut was that of corps member Marcin Kupinski as the Lensky, the young poet and fiancé of Olga. Unfortunately, a last minute change in the cast meant that he was paired with Femke Mølbach Slot instead of the original schedule Cecilie Lassen. Slot, who was one of the highlights of Wednesday's performance, danced commendably given the circumstances, but she and Kupinski are not a natural pairing in the ballet. Kupinski, for his part, deserves a praise for the quality of his partnering in the Act 1 pas de deux, despite the late change of Olgas. Having already been showcased in such ballets as "Etudes", Kupinski is an elegant and technically capable dancer. In his final solo, the extension in the jumps and lunges was especially noteworthy (though his line was marred by the fact that his jacket was, for reasons unknown, unfastened throughout the act). However, as beautiful as his positions are, there is still a jerkiness in his transitions which creates a slight break in the flow of the dancing. His acting is still a work in progress, with the emotion of the role not quite reflected in his face or his hands.

With the roles of the young lovers in capable, if not well-matched hands, the principal roles - Tatiana and Onegin - were taken on by two veterans of the ballet, Gudrun Bojesen and Mads Blangstrup. At 31, Bojesen is probably in her last years of being credible as the young Tatiana - there's a very fine line in casting this role as the ballerina must be young enough to play an innocent girl, but accomplished enough to develop the character and take on the complicated choreography. However, there is no doubt as Bojesen's ability to create a complex and nuanced character, and to push Cranko's choreography to its emotional extreme.

Opposite her was Mads Blangstrup in a role that works to his strengths as a dramatic and passionate dancer. As with his performance in "La Sylphide" two weeks ago, there seems to be a slight hesitation in his dancing, which one assumes is related to the back injury that kept him off the stage for many months. Blangstrup is never one to give less than a fully committed performance, but one misses the gorgeous full-out arch of his back and notices the occasional lift that doesn't quite soar to its full potential. Yet and Bojesen are consummate professionals, and well-matched, adjusting and accommodating so that these hesitations are noticeable only to practiced of eyes.

Bojesen's Tatiana is not quite so innocent as some, but equally as crushed by the haughty Onegin. On this occasion, though impeccably performed, the dream pas de deux did not come alive as it might have. Part of the problem, perhaps, was a less than attentive audience, but also Blangstrup's (for good reason) focus on the complicated partnering. A passionate and emotional dancer who has an incredibly expressive face and hands, Blangstrup looked much more at home when he wasn't having to lift Bojesen, and that's when things really came alive.

When considering the dream pas de deux, it is worth noting Jürgen Rose's stunning original sets. Hand painted and heavily layered, each set brings to life the story, but allow for dramatic transformations. In the opening scene, the Larin's country house is depicted on the back drape, the surrounding birch trees depicted in delicate detail on overlapping panels. Tatiana's enormous bedchamber is cleverly created via the use of a richly painted backdrop which creates the illusion of a corner extending back from the audience and a heavily ornamented, corniced ceiling. Layers of heavy 'lace' curtains and deeply coloured draperies make the room feel a bit claustrophobic - a world that Tatiana is trying to escape through her romance novels and infatuation with Onegin. Yet, despite the sumptuous appearance of the room - and that of the ballroom in the next act, it takes but a simple change of the lighting (Steen Bjarke) to make the walls completely translucent, bathing the room in an eeiry blue - the color of dreams. Bjarke's lighting also creates an unforgettable mood in the lead-up to the fatal duel: the crisp outlines of trees at the cusp of spring bloom are visible against the pale yellow sky of dawn, the light slowly creeping into the rising sun and clouds of morning fog rolling off the stage. Anyone who has lived or stayed for a while in the country can relate to that first blush of light, when the earth is still warming and the day has to decide its fate.

Kurt-Heinze Stolze's orchestration of Tchaikovsky's music also adds infinitely to the ballet. Stolze drew from a variety of sources, primarily piano concertos, though specifically avoided using music from the Tchaikovsky's score for the opera Eugene Onegin. From the very beginning, the music provides a subtle clue as to the characters and their fates. The light-hearted, gentle music for Olga and Lensky is a simple and sweet as they are, but yet has a slight mournful undertone. This mournful melody repeats itself in Lensky's final solo. When Onegin appears for the first time, this cheerful music switches to a deeper, more complex melody again with an undertone of minor chords. It's a musical theme that reppears whenever Onegin is present.

Returning to Blangstrup and Bojesen, both seemed to hit their stride in the second act. Blangstrup throws himself into the emotion of the role, and it's fascinating to see the emotion play on his face and through his body language. The disgust over being 'trapped' in the party and over Tatiana's overt courting of him, is clear from the arrogant look on his face, and the aloofness of his stance. At one point, when the party-goers are dancing, the couples in a long line, Onegin finds himself dancing opposite the adoring Tatiana. He steps back slightly making himself obvious against the otherwise straightly ,body subtly twisting, eyebrows and lips pursing; a look of annoyance perfectly created. The final showdown with Lensky is volatile, Blangstrup reeling across the stage after the (mock) slaps from the insulted Lensky.

The crescendo of their acting and dancing continued into the third act, despite a number of glaring miscues by the corps during the ballroom scene (including one unfortunate collision front and centre). One moment that can be easily missed is that of Onegin's recognition of Tatiana as she dances with her now husband, Prince Gremin (endearingly and patiently danced in a debut by Byron Mildwater). Onegin, at first faintly and then clearly, realizes that the beautiful woman in front of him is the girl he spurned so many years ago. It's at the moment of recognition that Blangstrup, for the first time, opens his eyes wide open. Walking across the front of the stage, half turned to the audience, a series of emotions flash across his face - pain, grief, then a half-crazed look. It is a remarkable display of acting ability and these few seconds tell the story in a nutshell.

Bojesen, for her part, really shines in this final act where she takes on the persona of the mature Tatiana. In the penultimate pas de deux, we see the battle between her youthful romantic side, and her mature, honourable side. One lift aside, Blangstrup seemed much stronger and assured in this last act, freeing him to involve himself as much in the emotion as in the dance. Again, we saw the wide open eyes expressing an anguish mixed with the fear of losing love and the passion of finding true love, however briefly. In the signature lift, where Onegin yanks Tatiana up from the floor by one hand into a soaring split, Blangstrup and Bojesen hit the crescendo of the music perfectly. Yet even as Onegin sends her heart soaring, Tatiana realizes that she is no longer his, and while her body is convulsed in a heart-wrenching sob, her arm points to the door. And this it ends.

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