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Nikolaj Hübbe's La Sylphide


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#46 Helene

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 07:14 AM

Alexandra,

Thank you so much for your reply. I wrongly assumed that the "Sylph" section of Etudes was meant to show the Bournonville style in the evolution of ballet.

I thought that the Sylph is supposed to be in many ways the opposite of Giselle, whom I could never imagine stealing someone else's fiance. But I did expected more of a contrast of temperament and style between the Sylph and Effy, to represent the difference between the relationship with someone James has known since he was a child and who will fit into his local life and the stranger -- glamorous or delicate or fine -- who represents a different world without obligation. Or even like the older women at the Catskills resort in Dirty Dancing whom Patrick Swayze describes in awe ("They really take care of themselves") in comparison to the working class older women from his home town. But maybe James was just a leg man :wacko:

I watched Queen Margrethe during the curtain calls. Since the first bow is always to her, she can't even enjoy a performance out of the direct public eye. I noticed that she was clapping a strong clap, not just a polite, public obligation clap. She did sit in the box alone, next to two empty seats. You are so right about this being a lonely way to attend a performance. I can't imagine going to the ballet alone and not being able to say something after the performance, even if to the complete strangers sitting next to me. I didn't know that was her lady-in-waiting in the opposite box (the one without the crown over it, duh). I did see a man dressed up in what looked like military dress in the box next to the royal box, and a man whose job was to pull out the Queen's chair before she was seated.

The royal box was empty for Tosca. I wonder if the bowing protocol is the same for opera, if a member of the royal family is attending. The ballet dancers grew up with the Queen, while the opera singers, at least the principals, were mostly an international lot. If they also bow to the royals, there must be a prompter somewhere to remind them, since opera singing is often a "If it's Tosca this must be Copenhagen" sort of profession.

#47 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 07:31 AM

Hockeyfan - thanks for the great remarks (I also liked Hojlund's Effy when she did it in 2000; she also alternated with Bojesen in the role of Eleonora in Kermesse in Bruges). When I was there, Queen Margrethe had guests in the box at least one night; I believe the King and Queen of Norway. So at least she had someone to talk to!

#48 Alexandra

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 08:26 AM

Hockeyfan, you might be interested in this review by Tobi Tobias, on Arts Journal:

The Danes at Home

Several posters here did not like Bojesen and Lund, thinking them too light; Tobias did, and writes why.

I think the difference between the Sylph and Effy is that one is of the air and the other is of the earth. (And your comment that Bojesen has beautiful feet -- that is considered one of the prime technical qualifications, because the legs are hidden by the full skirt, and the feet are the primary means of expression.)

There have been changes, too, in Gurn over the years. For much of the 20th century, he was a middle-aged man, comic, with red hair. To many, that seemed incongruous, and there was a push in the '60s and '70s to change this. (I don't know what the 19th century tradition was for Gurn.) "James is a Romantic boy, and Gurn is a happy boy," as Kronstam put it, and that's the way he cast it. To me, James and Gurn must be different, too -- one a dreamer, the other more grounded -- and I worry that, like Hilarion, Gurn is becoming more sympathetic.

As for James, there have been two performance traditions for him (at least; again, I'm only writing of the 20th century). Some have insisted that James be a peasant (that's the Realist Party speaking). Others that he is a dreamer; a hunter, yes, but also a dreamer.

As for "Etudes," I think the Sylphide section is supposed to be soft, but with a (then) contemporary softness (?) Perhaps not originally, when Margot Lander did the role -- she wasn't a Sylph. But in the revision with Toni Lander (which I've only seen on video) it seems as though Lander is not only moving her out of the classroom and onto the stage, but turning the Sylph into a Swan.

#49 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 11:05 AM

I thought Alexandra's comments on Gurn and Hilarion would make an interesting topic on their own, so here it is! Casting the "Villain"?

#50 Helene

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 11:21 AM

Alexandra,

Thank you for the link to Tobias' review. I am so sad that Hubbe replaced Lund :wacko: Although, given how much she loved Bojesen, I'm not sure we saw the same performers :) I guess I felt that Bojesen's Sylph wasn't offering an alternative to a bourgeois world, but a bigger house and a richer father-in-law.

Helene

#51 carbro

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 02:48 PM

I think that by definition James must be a dreamer, or how can you explain the Sylph appearing to him? I also think that the Sylph, in and of herself, has no moral value. She is innocent to the point of not knowing that anything might be wrong. At least those are the portrayals of those characters that have spoken most vividly to me.

Gurn strikes me as very down-to-earth. His contrast is not James, but the Sylph. James' dilemma is being caught (without realizing it, probably, until too late) between the realm of the earth and the realm of the spirit.

#52 Effy

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Posted 27 October 2003 - 02:18 AM

I can follow Hockey-fan some of the way regarding Gudrun Bojesens sylph. She is still partly in the one end of the scale, where the sylph is presented as a lovely girl in love. This was exactly where Rose Gads interpretation originated som 15 years ago. I would like to see her move more in the fairy/illusion direction. However, it is my opinion that Hubbe has directed the Sylphs to on the sweet and girlish side, as Silja Schandorff whos sylph is usually on the other side of the scale than Bojesens has also become sweeter and more girllike. The roles as James and the Sylph can be interpreted in as many ways as Hamlet. As James You can be poetic and a dreamer (a male sylph), you can be lord of the manor, arrogant, passionate, young, mature etc. The Sylph can be girlish, dramatic, ice queen, fairy, aloof, wicked, young, eternal etc. Each dancer is supposed to find his or hers own take on the part. However it should be Man meet Sylph not Boy meets Girl.

#53 Mel Johnson

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Posted 27 October 2003 - 02:44 AM

That's why this ballet lasts and lasts and lasts. There can be many, many variations on how the parts are played, but up to a certain point, the work retains its integrity.

#54 Effy

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 01:55 AM

I caught a performance last week with Silja Schandorff, Mads Blangstrup, Mette bødcher and Nicolaj Hansen. I was pleased to see that both Hansen and Bødcher are getting stronger in their parts as Madge and Gurn and that Schandorff has returned to her original and stunning take on the Sylph, rather than the sweet young girl approached she was coached to by Hubbe.

The combination Schandorff/Blangstrup is the stongest and most interesting of the ones present, and I sincerely hope that this will be the premier cast at the festival next year. Silja Schandorff has just been norminated for a Danish Drama award for the Sylph. She also won another Danish award last year for the same part. This time La Sylphide was paired with Napoli III act and allthough this is an ok combination for a festival performance I do not think it work for repetoiry use.As both stagings are big and complicated we end up with 2 X 30 minutes intermissions. The company has problems because of injuries and sickness to get a well matched cast on Napoli. For this performance Silja Schandorff had to dance Pas de Six and solo to cover for another dancer. And a young dancer Kristoffer Sakurai danced the Gennaro solo while Jean Lucien Massot danced and played Gennaro. I do not like to see the split in the role, even though it might be forced by injury. But what I in particular missed in this performance and in other recent Napolis is a common and clear perception presented by all the dancers (and mostly the director) on what and how Napoli III act should look like. You see in the small things as the cannot place the dancers rightly in the combinations so th small guy ended up lifting the tallest girls while the tall andrew Bowman lifted to tiny girls
and the larger view on how this should be performed. castingwise the first male solo has been the archilles heal for Napoli Act III. ever since Ib Andersen departed the company in 1980. On a good day Thomas Lund can handle the solo well. Otherwise it seems like they have decided that if you are slightly build, you get that solo and that looked like the main qualification for this nights offender. Giving so much problems to get the ballet on, the amount of casts, costumes, make-up, extras etc. and the missmatch with the tone of La Sylphide my advise would be to do another ballet before la Sylphide or conclude with an abstract ballet with little scenery demands.

#55 jorgen

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 04:53 AM

I think it would be best to start the evening with a small "appetizer" ballet and let La Sylphide be the final and main attraction. It worked out pretty well when Etudes was replaced with Vers un Pays Sage as a starter.

#56 Effy

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 06:23 AM

I totally agree. La Sylphide should be the last ballet on the program. I fear that it may be the fact that the decor for the first act is so heavy and diffucult to mount that have been the decisive factor for the planning of the program. As itist now the intermissions are to long and it is a strange sensation to see the Sylph rejuvinated as an Italian gypsy girl after her tragic demise

#57 Alexandra

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Posted 11 December 2003 - 08:56 AM

In the interest of fairness, considering the discussion of Caroline Cavallo on another thread, I wanted to report that I had a long talk with a Danish friend (former RDB dancer from the Brenaa era) who'd seen all the "La Sylphides" this season. Like me, this person had found Cavallo too bland as the Sylph in prior years, but thought she was excellent when dancing with Hubbe, really transformed, much more relaxed and with a deeper understanding of the role.

#58 Alexandra

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 09:12 AM

I thought someone had posted a link to this earlier, but couldn't find it; apologies if this is a repost.

There is a brief trailer on the company's web site of La Sylphide:

http://www.kgl-teate...let03/frame.htm


This is not a direct link. Click BALLET in the lefthand nav bar. Then click on the photo from LA SYLPHIDE.

You'll have three choices, depending on your connection, and there's an instruction in Danish to download Windows Media Player if you don't already have it.

There are two trailers, one of the dancing (about 2 minutes, mostly of Rose Gad wiith Mads Blankstrup, although there are split-seconds of others in rehearsal) Nikolaj Hubbe, who staged the production, is talking (in Danish) throughout. There's also a separate trailer that's only of him talking.

#59 Helene

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 11:52 AM

There are two trailers, one of the dancing (about 2 minutes, mostly of Rose Gad wiith Mads Blankstrup, although there are split-seconds of others in rehearsal) 


Is that Bojesen with Thomas Lund in rehearsal?

#60 Alexandra

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Posted 16 December 2003 - 11:59 AM

I'm pretty sure it is, HF -- I don't know who the Effy, though.


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