‘Out of Denmark’
by Johan Kobborg
‘Festpolonaise,’ excerpt from
‘From Siberia to Moscow,’ pas de deux from ‘William Tell,’ ‘Afsked,’ ‘The
Lesson,’ excerpts from ‘Napoli’
2003 – Queen Elizabeth Hall, London
I managed to get to the Queen Elizabeth
Hall for the programme. An enjoyable evening - being so up close to Alina
Cojocaru and Jamie Tapper was very special. Wherever one sits in the Royal
Opera House, one is never up close and personal. Having the opportunity
to watch their styles and technique so closely was like being in class.
Although in the final piece, Divertissements from “Napoli,” none of the
dancers had top billing and it really was a democratic Pas de Six and
Tarantella, Tapper and Cojocaru brought a class to the piece that made
it come alive. Tapper's arms are particularly elegant and her subtle changes
of positioning from the shoulder mark her out as a principal.
Why do we not seem more of Zenaida Yanowsky? I have always been her most
ardent fan ever since I saw her endless legs encased in black stockings
kick the ceiling in Ashley Page's choreographies. She is also the best
'first harlot' (“Romeo and Juliet”) I have ever seen. In fact her performance
is one of the things you talk about in the bar afterwards once you've
dispensed with the deceased couple themselves.
And now it is confirmed that she can master contemporary choreography
as if she were trained for it. Dylan Elmore and Yanowsky in Kim Brandstrup's
duet made the evening. The couple have parted and now they are trying
to saying to goodbye. At once all certain of their decision, and yet uncertain,
they are completely believable. Yanowsky's body is liquid and flows like
the very best of contemporary dancers: she is not ballerina in bare feet.
She uses her training and technique but the incorporation into Brandstrup's
language is seamless. Elmore from Batsheva Dance Company and Gulbenkian
Ballet was no less impressive. One of the few World Premieres I have seen
recently that I could sit through again! Indeed I would not only sit through
it again, but I would like to dance it myself. When choreography is truly
communicative, I want to dance it.
I would never want to dance in Flindt's “The Lesson.” I can only assume
that the reason this received applause – the like of which I have not
heard in London for a long time – is that we as a society are so desensitized
by the graphic portrayal of pain, death and violence in film, that we
are only moved when it hits us in the face. If Kobborg had played the
teacher in a way so we felt his dilemma and watched him wrestle with his
desires, I would have put up with the near groping of Cojocaru's breasts
and her ultimate strangling. Instead, it was clear from the moment Kobborg
walked into the room that she was 'done for' and that, because of the
music strewn all over the floor with chairs in places that you don't normally
find them in dance studios, this had happened many times before. “Silence
of the Lambs” goes Laurel and Hardy.
The over-acting from Kobborg was
dismal. Performed in the Bolshoi with me sitting at the back, I would
still have got the point. Do the dancers appreciate they are normally
acting when they perform in “Romeo and Juliet” and so when they are given
a very dark and dramatic piece, they should just apply the same principles.
Of course I am being unfair – it is Flindt's fault. Zenowsky didn't have
the opportunity to play the piano teacher like Mrs. Danvers. Instead she
storms around the room with a sour look on her face as if she is repressed.
The reason I am so critical is that I think if you are going to portray
child abuse and murder on stage – particularly in front of children sitting
in the audience wearing pink party frocks – there has to be a point.
Flindt's piece is obvious and I don't know what he is saying other than
"there are some real weirdos out there” so "Don't put your daughter
on the stage, Mrs. Robinson."
However, the piece divided the audience. Some people did not clap at all
and others practically gave standing ovations.
Edited by Jeff.
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