I wonder if Copeland's hyperextension and feet - beyond genes - might be related to her very late start in ballet. I think she didn't start ballet until 13, though she'd done other forms of dance. And I remember that there was a big fuss because she wanted to take a year out of high school to concentrate on ballet, but her parent(s) didn't agree, so she had to petition to make her teacher her legal guardian...or something like that. At the time it didn't seem like a healthy situation - great talent or not - but it seems to have worked out for the best.
As to the Danes...
Ulrik Birkkjær is 21 (or possibly 22) and this is his third season in the corps (after two full time a apprentice years). He didn't catch my eye until the Bournonville Festival in 2005, but has steadily risen in the last two years and has danced some of the toughest male parts in the RDB rep, including one of the solo parts in "Etudes" and the pas de six in "Napoli". Like the other Danes in the company he's a product of the Royal Danish Theatre Ballet School, and is very much a Bournonville dancer. He's tall, long limbed and has that soft elegance that is so typically Bournonville.
When I saw him dance this past December, what really struck my eye was his poise and elegance in finishing out of pirouettes. Bournonville's male solos not infrequently end in a series of pirouettes with a low working leg, finished in releve with a balance before the working foot is placed neatly into fifth. This is a not infrequent source of difficulty for the younger dancers, as that kind of control isn't easy after a challenging solo, but Birkkjær both in Swan Lake and Napoli, finished into perfectly balanced releves on the music.
There's a great photo of Birkkjær in Etudes here
(copyright David Amzallag/RDB, not to be used without permission)
Yao Wei, who is 22 or 23, was named a soloist during the Bournonville Festival in June 2005. She joined the company right out of the Shanghai Dance School/Drama College and received the Hope Prize at the Prix de Lausanne.
Since joining she's danced lead roles in a number of large ballets, her first major lead role being Elonora in "Kermesse in Bruges" (The lead roles in Kermessen are usually given to young dancers on the cusp of something big, and all four dancers in the lead roles were promoted soon after their debuts). This season she danced Odette/Odile in "Swan Lake" - a real test of any dancer, and I think she certainly passed. Initially I had reservations about her Odette, but she she was smashing as Odile, and after that a much more feeling Odette. She's not hugely tall, but long limbed and flexible - a physique that is well suited to contemporary and classical ballet. She does sometimes push the 'tricks' a bit, but I think her edges are softening and maturing with age and experience.
There's a picture of her in the Swan Lake Pd Quatre here
(copyright Henrik Stenberg/RDB, not to be used without permission) and as Eleonora in Kermessen in Bruges here
(copyright Martin Mydtskov Rønne/RDB, not to be used without permission)
Both dancers are in the shot of Etudes at the Jacob's Pillow website photo gallery
. Ulrik is the gentleman, Yao Wei is the second fully visible dancer from left (Femke Mølbach Slot, Yao Wei, Susanne Grinder, Elisabeth Dam, Charlotte Amaand and Alba Nadal(?))