Nikolaj Hübbe's La Sylphide
Posted 10 October 2003 - 05:35 AM
Nikolaj Hübbe will guest in the role of James three times with three different Sylphs.
Sylph: Gudrun Bojesen
James: Nikolaj Hübbe
Madge: Lis Jeppesen
Sylph: Silja Schandorff
James: Nikolaj Hübbe
Madge: Mette Bødtcher
Sylph: Caroline Cavallo
James: Nikolaj Hübbe
Madge: Lis Jeppesen
Posted 10 October 2003 - 09:31 AM
Posted 10 October 2003 - 09:36 AM
Posted 10 October 2003 - 03:38 PM
My two cents about Silja: I felt like I watched her eyelids for the entire ballet--as she spent most of the time looking about 45 degrees to the floor. Mind you, I was in the orchestra so it wasn't a matter of seeing the top of her head as well.
And a question: in the original libretto, i believe, there used to be a mime scene after the Slyph's opening variation with James and Gurn that more clearly indicated their troubled relationship. Has anyone ever seen this done? I think that Flemming Flindt stuck it back in a while ago when he set the ballet in the states?
Posted 10 October 2003 - 04:24 PM
Would you mind expanding on what Mette-Ida Kirk's Sylphide was like? I just LOVED the way she danced -- a fascinating combination of accuracy, impetuousness, lightness, reticence, fastidiousness -- marvellous line, w unique way of seing her head, and what timing!! I just LOVED the way she danced... (which I've only seen on video).
I'm told Balanchine liked her....
Posted 11 October 2003 - 10:40 AM
Posted 11 October 2003 - 12:04 PM
I feel yet another hole in my ballet-watching career. :nopity:
Posted 11 October 2003 - 08:27 PM
You see Kirk rehearsing and performing with Ib Andersen in Kermesse in Bruges in the documentary "Dancing Bournonville" which Effy menions above. So it's a double treat.
Posted 17 October 2003 - 04:13 AM
Last time Nicolai Hubbe danced James he was presenting the ultimate Turbo James. Evening little gesture pumped to the max by the man who rightly claimed I have never underplayed anything on stage. It was a performane almost killing the performance.
This times around as the the director and still not back in top form after injurys. Hubbe in my mind managed to perform a much better James, by being more subtle in his approach. The dancing may be a little weaker than before, but his interpretation won big by being more nuanced and clearer. Gudrun Bojesen has a wonderfull lightness and sweetness as the Sylph, but could be more dramatic. It is almost a seduction by change. Lis Jeppesens Madge is still a work in progress. She has changed hair and make up, but is still a bit of mark. Christioa Olsson was powerfull and sparkling in Etudes supported by three men Massot, Thomas Lund an Mads Blangstrup, who seeamed to have divided the difficults bits between them.
Posted 17 October 2003 - 09:16 AM
I'll second Effy's post (though can't say that I have the ability to compare this James to one in years past). Hubbe seemed to be thoroughly involved with the ballet, not simply filling his role and then watching all the others that he had coached. I was most impressed by his use of stillness in the mime sequences. There have been criticisms of the tempo here, but I think that this might be due in part to the "mushy mime" that sometimes happens. With this James you had some time to digest what was said and let it register.
Particularly sweet, was the somewhat befuddled Bojesen at the curtain who against her will kept getting dragged into the limelight by Hubbe who, after taking his flowers from Frank Andersen and a solo bow, refused to go up alone again--and so they had a funny little bit of bowing to each other, knowing that the foot stomping was indeed in his direction. (This isn't to say that Bojesen didn't deserve her fair share, she has a lovely and innocent quality about her--especially when first appearing at the window)
Posted 17 October 2003 - 10:41 AM
However I cannot fully agree with you regarding the growing tendency from others dancers and friend to form a claque (I think it is called. In Danish the word is klakør).I think they should join an entusiastic house but not try to build one. bournonville was very opossed to claques, and I mustagree with him. No one espicially people on the payroll of the theatre should engage i that sort of activity
Posted 17 October 2003 - 11:17 AM
Posted 18 October 2003 - 08:12 AM
Posted 24 October 2003 - 08:12 AM
I'd never seen the Royal Danish Ballet before. I'd seen a production of La Sylphide staged by Peter Martins for the Pennsylvania Ballet and performed by Tamara Hadley, William DeGregory, and Robin Preiss, and Etudes by ABT, performed by Marianna Tcherkassky. But my only exposure to the RDB style was second-hand, through these and Stanley Williams' stagings of Bournonville Divertissements for NYCB, and through films and performances by former RDB dancers, like Bruhn, Martins, Andersen, and Luders. So my context is limited, and I'd appreciate it if someone could give me the proper one if I'm way off the path.
My expectation for the Sylph was that she is supposed to be an other-worldly spirit, a contrast to down-to-Earth -- literally and figuratively-- Effy, living by a non-human code, and oblivious to the inevitable ramification of being "captured" by a human. While the grudge between Madge and James and Madge's revenge furthers the story line and brings it to dramatic conclusion, I would expect that, allegorically speaking, being domesticated in a relationship should have killed her as well.
Gurdrun Bojesen is a tall dancer. To me she looked like she had a short torso and long legs; that could have been exascerbated by the style of the costume. Her dancing was rather athletic, and her characterization struck me as being too close to Effy. I got the impression that she was a cleaned-up, more refined Wellesley-educated version of Effy, but not from another plane. In general, I found her dancing hunched over from the waist, and her shoulders bowed inward, like a tall girl trying to appear small and delicate. The exception was when upstage center in profile, she performed a gorgeous, soft, effortlessly stretched arabesque with her arms crossed and her head high.
But oh what feet! Strong, completely controlled on point -- not a single wobble, even though she had to stop on a dime repeatedly -- and wonderfully articulate. The only other dancer I've seen for whom there is that little distinction between feet and toe shoes was Suzanne Farrell, who had a little more roll-through than Bojesen. And among the Sylphs, there were more such miracles. I so wished that I had seen Bojesen in a more modern role, or even in Balanchine's Serenade.
I don't know how "big" Madge's performance is supposed to be, but I thoroughly enjoyed Lis Jeppensen's rendition. Generally, over-the-top performances make me yawn and roll my eyes, but she infused the stage with a pervasive energy, and after her first scene, the warning of her presence was there, even when she was not on stage.
I thought Nikolaj Hubbe's interpretation of James -- acting and dancing -- was thuggish. In my opinion, his first act solo was different from Morten Eggert's Gurn's only in that his landings weren't as loud. I felt that he lurched with his upper body to create bigger movement, which marred both the position and the line. I was more impressed with the way Eggert performed those beautiful juxapositions of direction and epaulement in the choreography.
I never saw any sense of wonder or conflict in his character. I got the impression that he was used to getting what he wanted; that he was imperious and rude rather than threatened by Madge, and thought he could just use physical force to swat her out of the way. I didn't see one example in Act II where Hubbe was torn between the Sylph and Effy, or where he thought of Effy at all. To me even Albrecht in Giselle had more redeeming virtue, and that this James would have been happy to marry Effy and have the Syph on the side, as his due.
I really loved Tina Hojlund's Effy, both as a character and her dancing. I was so taken by her clear leg- and footwork in the big group dance in Act I, that I couldn't stop watching her, and obviously missed James' temporary exit to follow the Syph. I just wanted to keep watching her dance that dance forever.
I was really impressed by the acting and well as the mime, especially from Effy and Gurn. Hojlund showed the disappointment of being left by James and her reluctant acceptance of Gurn's proposal was heart-wrenching. But I was glad to see that after the hurt, she didn't sulk her way through the wedding, and that she was with Gurn, who obviously adores her, rather than subjected to the brutish James.
That wasn't the conclusion that I came to when I saw Pennsylvania Ballet's production, and when I saw Thomas Lund perform in Etudes, I was disappointed that Hubbe replaced him in La Sylphide. I could imagine Lund portraying a James as a young man who was torn and conflicted, based on the quick-silver changes of mood and shape I saw in Etudes.
Christina Olsson was the Ballerina in Etudes, and any idea I had that being hunched over was part of the general style was tossed aside: as the Sylph in Etudes, Olsson's arm movements came organically from her wide and open back and shoulders, and her epaulment was free and fluid. It was remarkable to see her change from style to style, making each her own. Even though she didn't have the greatest stretch or amplitude, she defined a space for herself in which she positively glowed and from which she ruled the stage.
Lund, Mads Blangstrup, and Jean-Lucien Massot danced the male roles. I didn't think Etudes was a great role for Blangstrup -- it was very exposed -- but I could see how he might make a very interesting James. He had a slightly brooding, distracted quality. In the small ensembles, I believe that it was Diana Cuni who was the standout, unless there's a corps member -- no pictures in the program for the corps -- who also looks like Maria Callas. There was also one male corps dancer who had the most wonderful carriage and danced from fingertip to toe, but he couldn't land the repeated double tours. (He was atilt to the back and left on each.) He managed to come out of each bad landing as if nothing ever happened -- those poor feet and ankles -- with the same noble carriage and presence. He was blond with short hair, as if that narrows it down
The theater was lovely. I wasn't surprised that the ballet audience was on the older side; I was shocked when the opera audience for Tosca the next night was so relatively young. A member of the royal family attended the ballet performance. I wondered why everyone stood up at the beginning of the ballet -- this dumb American wondered if the national anthem was about to be played -- and then all eyes were on the royal box, as an older woman in a simple but elegant wine-colored silk dress took her seat. On the whole most of the older women in the audience let their hair turn gray; it wasn't the parade of extremely bad maroon and orange and black hair dye I saw in Estonia and Finland. I've decided that these women are my heroes.
Posted 24 October 2003 - 09:37 AM
You saw Queen Margrethe -- who lives right up the street, and comes to the ballet because she actually likes it. (Her lady in waiting sits in the box at the other side of the house. A lonely way to attend the ballet.)
Helene, I think you have a good eye. Much of what you wrote makes sense to me (although I haven't seen this production or these performances). The Bournonville Divertissements are very NYCB-Bournonville, except for Ib Andersen and Helgi Tomasson.
The body is bent forward in Bournonville -- he liked a curly, curvy line. I don't know whether it looked odd to you because you weren't used to it or because the dancer wasn't used to it; it could be either "Etudes" is in a different style -- the version they do now is the French one, not the one Lander made for the RDB, but in either one he is aiming at a more international (i.e., a la Russe, at that time) style.
Americans often expect the Sylph to be a kind of junior second-act Giselle, all pious and ephemeral. I don't think the Sylph is that in Denmark -- although I think there's a different performance tradition here. Originally it was a neoclassical (as opposed to demicaractere) role, and Bojesen has that body: long legs, short torso. The earliest film that we have of a Sylphide, though, is a very merry, rather round ballerina. There is a playfulness to her, though. She's a life force, not a ghost.
I'm glad Tina Hojlund is back -- of the dancers I saw three years ago, she was the best Bournonville dancer among the women, and I think she's a wonderful Effy.
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