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Nikolaj Hübbe's La Sylphide


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#16 Mel Johnson

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Posted 22 September 2003 - 02:06 PM

Whatever else that the Sylph and Madge may be to each other, I've always thought of them as elementals. The sylph is an air creature. Madge looks like she sprang out of the earth. Now all we have to add is fire and water, and we would have a complete universe there!

#17 Alexandra

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Posted 22 September 2003 - 02:38 PM

Well, James can be pretty fire-y! And Effy is calm and cool, like water. I don't know where that leaves Gurn and Mum.....

#18 Effy

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Posted 22 September 2003 - 11:20 PM

Regarding the decor. Michael Melbye was chosen probably not because he had worked with Frank previously, but because he is highly regarded for his scenography and directing of some of the most succesful opera productions at RDT. Michael Melbye originated as baryton and had an international career primarily as Papageno in The Magic Flyte. He was also a better actor than singer, and when he returned to Denmark he came to the conclusion that his voice had peaked and then reinvented himself as director and scenographer. His opera is very fine, his ballet productions less so. He have dressed Symphony in C, The TIVOLI Nutcracker and now La Sylphide. He has also been involed with make up design and was the make up artist behind Sorella Englunds Madge.

#19 Alexandra

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Posted 23 September 2003 - 05:34 AM

Not saying that Melbye isn't respected or qualified, not at all, only that he also did the designs for Andersen's production for the Royal Swedish Ballet in 1999. I've emailed you :thumbsup:

#20 Alexandra

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Posted 23 September 2003 - 12:42 PM

I also have some questions on the dancing -- how did the style look, if it's possible to remember Bournonville style after the past decade of changes :)

#21 Effy

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Posted 24 September 2003 - 01:54 AM

The dancing look good and on a grander scale than the Dinna Björn production. However, Gudrun Bojesen did not have the grandest Sylphide grand jete I have ever seen. If the tempo was a bit more human, she could probably manage a better jump. It is pushing the boat a bit regarding a more "international" Bournonville style of dancing.

Re. Melbye yes he has done decors for Frank Andersens La Sylphide in Stockholm and China before. We have seen the Chinise version in TIVOLI but it is harsh to judge any scenography on that stage. On the introduction he spoke as if he had done newer research on the subject. Given his status in Denmark I think he would have been chosen, no matter who was doing the production. He is rightly aclaimed for his Opera productions which have been sell-out for years. Several of the reviewers have noted that espciallyy the second act and some of his choices for act one is less than stellar. It is not a bad scenography (execp the backdrop for Act two) It is just too little of an improvement and in some respects less effective than the older poduction. You ended up loving that old battered decor

#22 Mel Johnson

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Posted 24 September 2003 - 02:25 AM

I wonder if some stagers of Bournonville's works aren't unduly influenced by the knowledge that his very first works were arranged for a very small (8 meters wide?) stage, and so make their work very intime and internal, rather than consuming space, which always seemed to me a hallmark of the Royal Danish Ballet. Eight meters or twenty-five, they could always fill the stage space without overflowing it.

#23 Alexandra

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Posted 24 September 2003 - 06:32 AM

Mel, exactly. That's what I've found with Bjorn's stagings, and Andersen's direction. Some of the dancers I've intereviewed call it "Bournonville in a box" (a pun, because it refers not only to the small scale of the dancing, but that it's a "canned" style, taken out of a box rather than organic). And one of the phrases dancers who'd worked witih Brenaa and Kronstam on Bournonville said repeatedly was that they'd been told "use all the space available to you" -- which is why the dancing would look so explosive, rather than dutiful. In the Bournonville Week of 2000, of the young dancers, only Tina Hojlund had that use of space, and that daring.

#24 Effy

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Posted 25 September 2003 - 12:05 AM

You can see excepts of the rehersals and snippets of a stage rehersal in costumes om www.kgl-teater-dk. Just press on the picture from La Sylphide and then press on triailer and choice your connection speed. The dancer are Thomas Lund and Gudrun Bojesen in practise cloths and Mads Blangstrup Rose Gad in costumes. If you go to the "presse" section you can also dowload high quality photos from this and other RDB-productions

#25 vila

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Posted 25 September 2003 - 08:29 AM

Late as usual, but still :

A most wonderful evening last Saturday for the premiere of la Sylphide at the Royal Theatre. The lanterns were red, the house well sold out and the feeling of anticipation rather palpable with all the expectancies borne on this production (« one of the classic ballet’s most captivating characters – an innocent soul and femme fatale all rolled into one. See the premiere directed by NH , one of the greatest Danish dancers ever… » read the blurb in the papers) which in many ways acted as a pre-pre opener to the festival in two years time. Bojesen was an ethereal sylph of great beauty (and a wonderful dancer, confirmed by her remarkable performance in Etudes the following night), but while her playfulness and that incredible lightness were utterly disarming – the man sitting next to me was falling in love by the minute- I too somehow regret the choice of naïve innocence she embodied and was therefore all the more very sensitive to the Rose Gad’s interpretation on the following matinée, which seemed to convey a slight sense of doom ; surely the sorceress can’t be the only one “aware”. Or is it that « lurve » transforms one into a butterfly (all the more when you are a spirit to start with?) Perhaps… Lund’s James screamed escapism, (though his affection for his Scottish bride came across as utterly genuine) and the décors suggested the sort of « doll house à l’envers” (sheltered/pampered existence, Anna’s power, arranged wedding…). Lund was a rather boyish James, chasing after the object of affection/illusion that forever eludes his grasp with frantic gestures, and can he dance! In the first act, after Eggert’s very laudible solo (a wicked man that Gurn of his), James storms out center stage, beats and open arm jétés like none, erasing all we have seen just before and leaving an ever lasting impression. Lund, and the following day Blangstrup, both manage to pinpoint their focus and have the audience questing after their reverie, so much so that when the sylph is dying you want to protest and beg to be allowed to paste her wings back for the sake of a happy ending. Lund’s intensity of distress, his broken James who dares not behold what he has done is haunting. Tina Holjund was a charming earthly bride-to be all wrapped in her tartans and woollies, in great contrast to the diaphanous spirit of the woods; Lis Jeppesen, a witch who spits with force and eloquence…and how that hex downs her whiskey! Her threats - eyes gleaming eerily as she lays her curses- resembles at times those street characters prophesying the end of the world. An ultimate spit after James lies prostrate with grief and collapses, brings the story to the end. Rapturous applause, flowers for everyone, bows, curtseys and reverences to the Queen ended this performance which paid an exquisite tribute to Bournonville's work.

#26 Alexandra

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Posted 25 September 2003 - 09:24 AM

Thank you for that! I will say I'd heard from friends that it would be impossible to tell what this production was like from reading the press there, because no matter what it was, it would get raves. :rolleyes: [hastening to add, not to imply that it doesn't deserve them.....]

I think the Sylph should be naive. Or at least can be. But I think Bournonville's Sylph WAS. (She doesn't understand the human world. She thinks James can follow her up the fireplace and doesn't understand when he does not; a wonderful metaphor, I've always thought.) I think there's was a 20th century trend to make ballet heroes and heroines darker -- that matched the taste of our times. (Though, paradoxically, some villains have become more sympathetic (Hilarion, Gurn). ]

I will say that one sylph I interviewed for my book talked about how Kronstam would encourage them to age their characters as they aged (which had been his approach) rather than trying to keep the character looking perennially young, and both Ryom and Jeppesen used the example of his saying, "perhaps you should change it a bit, you're not so young and innocent any more". Not to say that others won't have a different view or interpretation, but just to offer an idea about how the roles have been viewed.

Edited by Alexandra, 25 September 2003 - 10:16 AM.


#27 Nikolaidenmark

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Posted 26 September 2003 - 01:46 PM

HEY :)

well regarding decor for Etudes I dont think that the current set is that bad... i mean in Etudes I really dont look at anything else but the dancers so...
I agree that it should NOT be a studio set - and i also think that statues of some people would only distract.... it should be a perfect frame for the dancers to look their best and nothing more... :cool2:
Etudes is about what you see them do - the adagio section is about adagio and the pirouette section is about pirouettes...
- therefore if you suddenly put items on stage it doesnt make sence... Thats just my thought :)

regarding a almost hole other thing - how many of you guys are coming for the 2005 festival??? its actually closer then you should think.... tickets are already on sale this spring...

:D

#28 Alexandra

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Posted 28 September 2003 - 07:04 AM

I'm sure several people from this board will be coming to the Festival, nikolai.

#29 Alexandra

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Posted 29 September 2003 - 09:25 PM

Tobi Tobias writes about the Danish Ballet's La Sylphide in her Arts Journal blog:

THE DANES AT HOME She liked Lund's James; I've quoted that paragraph here -- but the whole review is interesting, I think. For our European readers who might not know her, Tobias has long had a special interest in the Royal Danish Ballet. In 1979, inspired by the Bournonville Festival, she began an Oral History Project on the company and its Bournonville tradition, interviewing the dancers of that generation -- many of them who are now deceased (N.B. Larsen, F. Bjornsson, K. Ralov, F. Schaufuss, Bruhn, Kronstam, Brenaa). The tapes of these interviews are in the library of the Royal Theatre -- some were transcribed, others just in tape form. In case anyone is interested. :)

Thomas Lund, an exemplar of the Bournonville style, played James.  At the peak of his performing career, Lund offers his technical prowess as a given.  His space-seizing leaps, shaped with infallible grace, float in the air; their landings are confident and lushly cushioned.  Swift and rhythmically precise, the multiple beats that adorn his jumps bring to mind the heartbeat of a bird.  Timing is everything in Bournonville, and Lund gives the choreography, in danced and mimed sequences alike, the musical phrasing essential to it.  In this new production, though, Lund has come alive as an actor for the first time.  Perhaps modeling his approach on Hübbe’s own dramatically fervent James, Lund creates a powerful and original temperament.  In his James, the appearance of the Sylphide suddenly awakens an overwhelming unconscious desire to escape the world he knows.  This James is utterly disconcerted—even to the brink of madness—by the prospect of abandoning the familiar for the fatal attraction of the unknown and irrevocably doomed to do so.  Lund takes the risk of working at the outer margin of control and it makes for the kind of theater in which the performer himself, caught, all senses aflame, in the middle of the story being told, doesn’t appear to know how it will end.



#30 Effy

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Posted 08 October 2003 - 01:24 AM

As I predicted others dancer would change the performance. Due to injury, Kenneth Greve did not dance James on tuesdays performance, but the lead was danced by Silja Schandorff and Mads Blangstrup, who have danced the parts previously together and has proven themselves a killer kombination in this ballet.

On Tuesday Mads Blangstrup did a particulary fine James. His dancing was superb. He jumped well and even though he is in the Erik Bruhn school of tours en airs (doing all three in the same direction as opossed to going both ways - the more difficult version) they were spot on. The special quality of Mads Blangstrups dancing is how well he gets the dramatic context interfused with the dancing, which is so crucial for La Sylphide. Another feauture with Mads is, that although he is not the greatest technician in the RDB, his teqnique always raised to the challenges and perform on the required level. Unlike Thomas Lund he never disappears or is overshadowed by the noisy colours and clansmen.

He is so much the focal point that Silja Schandorffs La Sylphide is delegated to second place. She had very beautifull jumps and danced well but it looked like Hubbe has coached her to perform a more innocent and sweeter Sylph. I prefered her normal fatal ice maiden interpretataion and hope she will return to this interpretation as it does makes the drama stronger with Blangstrups passionate, young and wild James (as opposed to Thomas Lunds innocent James).

Blngstrup has the glamour and hunkiness, that is needed for James. He is born leading man material and has a certain resemblance in his dancing and acting to Henning Kronstam, although he is fair and Kronstam dark.

Mette Bødcher as Madge was not a revelations. She seems more like a ghost than like a witch. Bøtcher specials has always been an ability to get the audience to like her. She is so likeable and positive a performer. When she dances one of the sylphs in Etudes, she overshadows Caroline Cavollos ballerina woth her personality. But she cannot use this ability in Madge and is therefore rather bland. I thhink she would have been better placed as Effy, as thes teams is set to match the tower, that is Kenneth Greve.

This is probably the reason for giving Maria Bernholdt the parts as Effy. The costume does not become her and she lacks the that cute girl next door, that has worked so well for previous Effys. Hans Brenna in particular used a certain type of girl Arlette Weinreich, Eva Kloborg, Ann Kristin Hauge for the part.

Young Nicolai Hansen is obiuosly considered a coming Bournonville man danced Gurn, but he still has some maturing to do. Marie Pierre Greve was an elegant 1. Sylph and is one of the best to dance this part since Mette-Ida Kirk, who had to make do with this untill she, quite late in her career finally got the chance to show how stunning a sylph she was.

Re. the decir. I asked Frank Andersen st the introduction whether the decor is idetical with the Stockholm, and he assued me that there were significant changes. Allthough he could not really recall what they were.


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