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Nikolaj Hübbe's La Sylphide


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#1 vila

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Posted 18 September 2003 - 05:19 AM

from the Royal Theatre:


Bournonville news: New La Sylphide

James has lost his beloved Sylph 755 times at the Royal Theatre Old Stage in
Copenhagen. But with the 756th performance, curtains will be drawn on a
reinterpretation by the Danish dancer Nikolaj Hübbe.

As a brilliant interpreter of James on stage, Nikolaj Hübbe - principal
dancer at the New York City Ballet since 1992 - has always had a passion for
La Sylphide. Now he debuts as director of his own rendition of this
Bournonville classic in close collaboration with the Danish set designer
Mikael Melbye.

Nikolaj Hübbe was trained at the Royal Danish Ballet School in Copenhagen
and his experience with La Sylphide - from children's parts to that of James
- spans a full dancing career. In his new staging he emphasises the living
continuity of the unique Royal Danish Ballet tradition.

"La Sylphide is one of the principal works of the Bournonville repertoire.
An ingenious story that is emblematic of the Romantic epoch yet timeless. It
is no coincidence that La Sylphide is among the most performed ballets the
world over. As a prelude to the 3rd Bournonville Festival in 2005 we present
a reinterpretation of La Sylphide complete with new sets. I find it vital
that the younger generation of dancers contribute to maintaining the
Bournonville heritage - his style and expression. I have therefore invited
Nikolaj Hübbe to stage La Sylphide according to his own heart."
Artistic Director Frank Andersen

La Sylphide is sponsored by Danisco



Danish Premiere | Old Stage
20 September 2003

Performances:
20 | 21 | 27 September
2 | 3 | 4 | 7 | 16 | 22 | 24 October 2003 with Etudes

4 | 6 | 7 | 11 November 2003 with Napoli III act.


More about La Sylphide:
http://www.kgl-teate...e/Bsylfiden.htm

http://www.kgl-teate...for_festivalen/
balletterne/sylfiden/sylfiden.htm

#2 vila

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Posted 18 September 2003 - 05:21 AM

...and the second link doesn't seem to work :)

#3 vila

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Posted 18 September 2003 - 05:44 AM

the casts :

Sylfiden
Gudrun Bojesen
(20/9, 3/10, 16/10, 11/11)
Rose Gad
(21/9, 2/10, 4/10)
Silja Schandorff
(27/9, 7/10, 22/10, 6/11)
Caroline Cavallo
(24/10, 4/11, 7/11)

James
Thomas Lund
(20/9, 3/10, 16/10, 11/11)
Mads Blangstrup
(21/9, 27/9, 2/10, 4/10, 22/10, 24/10, 4/11, 7/11)
Kenneth Greve
(7/10, 6/11)

Madge
Lis Jeppesen
(20/9, 3/10, 16/10, 24/10, 11/11)
Jette Buchwald
(21/9, 2/10, 4/10, 4/11, 7/11)
Mette Bødtcher
(27/9, 7/10, 22/10, 6/11)

#4 Effy

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Posted 21 September 2003 - 01:02 AM

The Hübbe production of La Sylphide is most of all a step back to previous production values. He has scrapped all the little extras put in by Dinna Bjørn in the latest productions, mini solos examples, add. mime. Compared to the old Brenaa/Kronstamversion there is only one major change. In this production Gurn cannot see the sylph, which in my view lessens the impact of the final scene in act one. It is ok to loose the "falling on his bum - ha ha " element, but it makes a almost empty "line" for Gurn to deliver at a crucial point in the story.

He is also driven up the tempo. This is surely the fastest La Sylhide there has even been. The dancing is spacious and it is wonderful to see a sylphide that is not forced to limit her movements, which was a very sad developement in the Bjørn version.

I am not very satified with the scenography and costumes by Michael Melby. Somehow he has managed to dress James in the dullest colours, blu and dark green as opposed to very bright yeloows and reds for the corps. Adding also three Scoth pipers in full Trooping the colour gear is making a much to dominent feautures. The sylphs costume is to much like a ballgown and the fireplace is to big.It almost signal: Someone will use this exit. Unfortunately the scottish girls still looks like girls guides. The decor for act two is neither pretty nor alluring. The backdrop need much more attention. Is has an uncanny feel of a dolls theatre. Michael Melby has done some great decors for opera, but ballet do not look like his field. It is as he cannot get the scale right. In hinsight I would have preferred Mia Steengaad, who made a great Manon to do the decor.

The premiere cast was Thomas Lund and Gudrun Bojesen with Lis Jeppesen as Madge. I think tha Hübbe could have casted himself to a bigger impact with Schandorff with either Kenneth Greve or Mads Blangstrup. Bojesen is lovely but also very naive sylph. Thomas Lund is well Thomas Lund. A great little dancer with the love and tecnique for Bournonvilll. an intelligent dancer, who understand what he is doing but without the looks and personally to portray a tormented, good looking soul. Which is exactuly what James be (and what we have been use to from our best James´s). He seem interested but not overwhelmed by the sylph and combined with Bojesens approach you get nice dancing but no tragic or existental drama. The last time i saw a debut as the sylph I cried. This time my eays stayed dry. The alternative cast may still produced tears and a clearer vision of what Hübbe wants. It may also be added that Lis Jeppesens choices for Madge is more personal than optimal. She has chosen to play the part with her own rather short cut hair as opposed to her balding gnom, produced last time. But as she cannot or will not use the opposites in the role like old -young, tall - short , weak -healthy it lack drama. Unfortunately Sorella Englund is no longer on the rooster and it is a grat loss. Morten Eggert was a capable Gurn, Tina Højlund a nice Effy, but "LaSylphide" needs a stellar trio on top, and we cannot call this more than a nice try.

Following La Sylphide we got "Etudes" with a trio of our imported dancers Cavallo, Massot and Bowman, of which neither really managed to bring on that little bit of extra. The corps was fine but we could do with a new decor or rather a decor for this work.

#5 Mel Johnson

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Posted 21 September 2003 - 02:37 AM

Following La Sylphide we got "Etudes" with a trio of our imported dancers Cavallo, Massot and Bowman, of which neither really managed to bring on that little bit of extra. The corps was fine but we could do with a new decor or rather a decor for this work.

Effy, leaving "La Sylphide" quite aside for the moment, as they may still be trying to find the "heart" of this staging, as your very good review points out, what would you think of a set for "Etudes" that made a stylized version of the recognizable classrooms/rehearsal halls of the Royal Danish Ballet? Failing that, perhaps the lobby of the Theater Royal could work as well. I have always had this feeling while watching "Etudes" that it says important things about ballet, and not just any ballet, but things rather specific to the Danish School. I know that the classroom set has been done in "Konservatoriet", but to me, that ballet and "Etudes" have always been the best choreographic international goodwill ambassadors for Danish ballet. I love them both very much.

#6 Nikolaidenmark

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Posted 21 September 2003 - 06:10 AM

hey :o

well I thought that the saturday la sylphide cast was great - though agreeing on the hole Thomas Lund thing, I thought Gudrun Bojesen was absolutely wonderful.... :rolleyes:
Though she did the part in both madrid and rome, this was here rdb debut!
regarding the naiv thing - i think that the sylph have to be "naiv" (though i dont like that term) She must be sweet, wonderfull, fragile and in her own little fantasy world to justify the hole story... if the sylph was a little calculating bitch the witch could just go home and sleep... but it all depend on how you see the story!!! ;o) is the sylph and the witch the same person?? or is the sylph jamess fantasy creature?? and what about the possible previous love relation between james and the witch?? i mean why is the witch welcomed by everyone except James??? :shrug:
And Etudes was really really good!!! :ermm:

:party:

#7 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 21 September 2003 - 06:43 AM

Nikolai -

Maybe this is just me, but I think James is hostile to Madge not because they were previously having an afair, but because she's the only person who knows he can see the Sylph, and that his love for Effy is not as unencumbered as it seems. Madge knows his secrets and that makes him afraid of her.

#8 Alexandra

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Posted 21 September 2003 - 07:34 AM

Thanks very much, Effy and Nikolai. Effy, I was glad, too, to read about the decor. And I agree with you about Gurn -- he HAS to see the Sylph. It's in the mime. He sees her twice. (Kronstam's view on this, as he told it to me, was that the Sylph has been there all the time, but no one could see her, until she chose to "materialize herself" to James. Then she's "real" -- she can be seen, not only by him, but by anyone else who is there. Also, re Leigh's comment about Madge and James, that was Kronstam's view, that he's frightened by the witch because she can see into his soul and dreams, but I think that was a personal interpretation not a production standard.)

Effy, am I reading you right, that they've cut the mime scene now where Gurn explains that he saw a creature flying? Also, does Effy have a solo? I know Bjorn took out the Brenaa one and added one of her own, but I wasn't clear whether the whole solo had been cut, or three was a new one, or the Brenaa had been put back.

#9 Nikolaidenmark

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Posted 21 September 2003 - 11:49 PM

B) hey

- Leigh

well it was not really my view of the story that james and the witch ... you know..
but im just saying that people read the story in so many different ways, therefore when Gudrun Bojesen are doing the sylph as "naiv" it might not be "right" because it doesnt fit with the way effy see the story... :( but for others its perfect - soo

- Alexandra
they did change gurns lines and effy did have a solo... :hyper:

#10 Alexandra

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Posted 22 September 2003 - 06:36 AM

Thanks, nikolai!

There have been other "naiv" (or innocent?) Sylphs -- Lis Jeppesen did it that way when she was very young. I've read the idea that The Sylph and Madge are sisters -- I believe it was Svend Kragh Jacobsen's theory. (It's not mine :( ) But I know there are people who read the story that way.

#11 Effy

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Posted 22 September 2003 - 06:53 AM

Do not get me wrong. Bojesen is a great sylph in the making and one of my favorate dancers. Her take on the role is very much what I expected it to be. I feel personally that her intrepretation would work better with say Mads Blangstrup as James. If the sylph is sweet and innocent she need a very passionate James for it to work. And a soft James needs a willful Sylph to drive the drama. A willful and erotic sylph can also work with a strong James. Here we are stock with a sweet sylph and a mellow James, so you do not reach the highest drama level. As often casting is everything. I think it may also work if (or when) Morten Eggert get the chance opposite Bojesen. They are very effective in the recent tripple bill. Effy has a solo (the Brenaa one). Regarding the mime sequence. Gurn returns and explains that he has seen a crazy James. full stop, I totally agree that Gurn as well as Madge should be able to see the Sylph. It also makes the previous scene whre Gurn collects Effy to show what James is up to, meaningless.

Re. a decor for Etudes we are presently stock with a decor, that combines black velvet drapings with a few chandeliers and some awful pillars (they actually look somewhat like the original black decor for the 1948 periere). It cannot be a class room because the ballet evolve from the class room to the stage, but I am convinced that it must be possible to create something with more style and atmosphere. The original 1948 had a sort of fouer thing with busts on piedestalls if i remember corectly.

#12 Nikolaidenmark

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Posted 22 September 2003 - 07:52 AM

HEY :cool2:

first of all im really amazed on alexandras extensive rdb knowledge - wauw - howcome you know so much?? and i thought I was somewhat knowing... :huh: :speechless: :( :lol:
I noticed you live in DC - you must be looking forward to the rdb tour then....

regarding the sylph set i think its somewhat crazy to spend soo much money on something that's just that little bit different and you can question if its even any better...

:D i mean i see the sence in investing and showing that its the bournonville rep that counts... but i could imagine that the many money could have been better spend...

#13 Mary J

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Posted 22 September 2003 - 08:03 AM

Hey, Nikolai!
Alexandra may be too modest to tell you that she wrote a great biography of Henning Kronstam (one of my all-time favorite dancers!), and also did her thesis on Bournonville, so she has spent a lot of time and effort in recent years getting to know rdb, its history, dancers and repertoire!

Thank you so much to Nikolai and Effy for their reviews. Some of us would very much have liked to be there, too, but will have to wait until the tour in January instead.

#14 Alexandra

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Posted 22 September 2003 - 08:07 AM

Effy, I've seen photographs of the set from "Etudes" that you mention too. I think perhaps having the busts of figures from Danish Theatre as a backdrop does make the most sense (and agree that it can't be a classroom; we think of it as a classroom ballet here, but it's not. I keep referring people to Alexander Meinertz's article on Etudes that's on the main DanceView site -- www.danceview.org in the Commentary section -- which I'm sure Effy has read).

I have to say I wasn't impressed with Morten Eggert as a Bournonville dancer when the company was here, in miniature, last spring. But I'd very much like to see Boesen's Sylphide. I'd imagine she was paired with Lund because of his youth and gentleness -- he could be overpowered by someone like Schandorff. I do see a darkness in him, though, that could be interesting in James, and I'll be curious to see him as well.

I hope you all will report on the other casts!

nikolai, you do know a lot about the company! :( We have quite a few people on the board who are interested in the RDB, not only from the company's tours to the U.S. (speaking as an American poster) but some of us have gone to the Bournonville Festivals -- even the 1979 one! So we're very happy to have people like you and Effy and maria and kay reporting on what you're seeing. [Editing because I missed Mary J's post above; we seem to have been posting at the same time!]

I think the reason you got those sets is because they were made for Frank Andersen's production in Sweden a few years ago. It's a shame, because there was a lovely second-act backdrop for Kronstam's production in 1992. It was very well-lit at the Kennedy Center -- better than at home, if I may say so -- and it was very light and delicate, a suitable bower for a sylph.

Edited by Alexandra, 22 September 2003 - 09:38 PM.


#15 Paul Parish

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Posted 22 September 2003 - 08:25 AM

Gurn has to see the sylph --

I think he can see her because he is in love


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