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Effy

Martins Balanchine program

55 posts in this topic

Effy, I share your thoughts on Cavallo -- and I don't think of it as a bias. To me it's an assessment, made after watching many performances. This is an age where "if you can do the steps, you get to dance the role," and that has not been, until the past decade, an attitude shared by the Royal Danish Ballet. In a time when rehearsals have been cut to the bone (which may be changing under Andersen; he does realize the importance of rehearsing) fast learners are also more likely to be cast. And, like you, I'm always ready to be surprised -- one role I did like Cavallo in very much (10 years ago) was "Serenade." It was, I believe, her first leading role and she was quite tentative in it at first; you could see her confidence grow in every performance. But there, her forthright approach to dancing works.

When the company danced Napoli pas de six and tarantella here last year (I reviewed this for Dance Magazine and will say the same thing here), Cavallo and Massot danced the leads opening night, and the whole thing looked like an exercise. A highly spirited exercise, Konservatoriet with tambourines. But it had no center. It was merely a collection of solos.

The next night Rose Gad and Thomas Lund did the leading roles and there was quite a difference -- the ballet DID have a center. It was a wedding again, not a series of solos. Cavallo was one of the soloists and she was charming -- fresh, and sweet, and beautifully clear dancing.

Now, there may have been those who would have seen both performances and preferred Cavallo because her dancing was "stronger" than Gad. Gad has been much injured and her dancing was not as sharp as it was 5 years ago; I'd call it mellow -- she knows what she can do and she doesn't push for anything beyond it. But she's still beautifully musical and she can still hold the stage. I find both Cavallo and Claire Still's lightness a bit insubstantial -- it's lightness that has been learned, not a lightness that comes from within, the result of dancing in a certain way from childhood.

Anna, yes, there's a group of dancers, led by Peter Bo Bendixen, who will be performing in New York after the Washington performances.

The schedule is on a thread right next door:

http://balletalert.ipbhost.com/index.php?s...showtopic=13436

I will be glad to see more of Gudrun Bojesen as well. She came up during the Time of Troubles, unfortunately, and came late to leading roles, but I think she is a lovely dancer -- beautiful proportions, beautiful lines. She's also the grand-niece of Edel Pedersen, a dancer from Hans Beck's time, and had the benefit of Great Aunt Edel's comments on her dancing when she'd go for Sunday visits (I know this from an interview I had with her in 2000).

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I am intrigued by this tangent of "what is good enough to get someone cast". In Piano Concerto, for example, there is such a huge need for technical virtuosity that in my opinion I would rather see less drama and more phenomenal batterie than vice versa. If you don't have the chops, this is one place where you are exposed. I'm not trying to say that the emoters should be stuck in the 'easier' roles, because I think that it is just as difficult to choreograph your face as it is your feet!

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I'd agree - I"m not suggesting a lowering of technical standards at all. The argument between "you just want to see athletic ability" and "you just want to see emoters" comes up a lot -- most people want both, each person gives "points" for different things. For me, there's a basic technical standard that you shouldn't drop below, but there's much more needed than that basic technical standard. There's also the issue of coaching. When I was watching the company a lot and talking to people, there was a phrase that came up over and over "She's one where you had to set every finger" (that was the coaches, older dancers, or teachers talking.) Meaning that there was extreme attention and help given to a dancer that produced a perofrmance beyond what the dancer was able to give on his/her own.

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I must admit, that how a dancer can dance is of vital importance to me. That is probably why I have never been a big fan of Lis Jeppesen. Her technical level was simply not high enough for my taste. But having said that much I also prefer the dancer to do more than just dance. Muciallity, phrasing, charisma, drama, line and looks are also part of the package - and as important as teqnique. If we look at the male wing, I will mostly always prefer Mads Blangstrup to Andrew Bowman, even though Bowman may be somewhat sharper than Blangstrup in the steps he lacks the drama and allure, you always get from Mads Blangstrup. If the toss is between Blangstrup and Kenneth Greve, I will often prefer Greve as his lines are more beautiful and his intuition in tone with my taste. Unless i it is a very dramatic role, then Blangstrup may be slightly better. It would be fare to say that the dancers I unconsiously measures against is Arne Villumsen, who probably is the most complete male leading dancer, The RDB has had since Henning Kronstam. Handsome, impeccable line, strong - yet technically sublime, dramatic flair, strong and attentive partner and one of the most musical dancers I have ever experienced.

The demi-caracter dancers I probably compare to a mix of Ib Andersen and my early memories of Niels Kehlet.

I am aware that I should be comparing and I try not to. But when so much of the repetoire is legacy it is difficult not to and it is very difficulty for th egoods dancers who compares less with the standard types like Johan Kobborg.

For the female dancers what tricks me is a combination of tecnique, line, mucicality, drama, personality and style.

Re. Gudrun Bojesens late revival. It was i beleive not due to lack of recognition but forced by multibly injuries. We have more or less been waiting for her for 3 year, knowning that she was recognised (especially by Maina Guildguid) but never made it to the stage.

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Reading some of the postings here, I have to say that the artistic directors, stagers and guest choreographers are just that – the artists that stage and create ballets out of pure love of the art of ballet. As such they, and only they, are the experts who know the look, feel and execution they want for their work. You may have your ideal but you could never totally speak for what Auguste Bournonville idealized for his works, for example. And that search for the perfection of their work is why they spend so much time choosing the dancers they want for their ballets. They will avoid a company that cannot provide what they want. Hence my bewilderment over the criticism of Caroline Cavallo. She is one of my favorites largely because she can execute what they want and add her interpretation without compromising their vision in a way that deeply reaches the audience’s emotions. I have see people in tears when the curtain goes down. She never disappoints the stagers or the audience. She has danced all those lead parts because those artists saw her talent as something that would best show what they are creating for the world. My goodness, she would not be doing so much if she lacked those intangibles that make for a great dancer. The list is impressive: She was chosen by Peter Martins for Swan Lake, Helgi Tomasson for Sleeping Beauty, John Neumeier for Romeo and Juliet, Reid Anderson for Onegin, Monica Parker for Manon, the “instruktors” of the RDB for her parts in Napoli, La Sylphide, Folk Tale, as well as her role as Giselle. All of which I have seen her and others do and all of which she received ovations from the audience (at performances I attended) and excellent reviews from the Danish and other critics. I have even spoken to some of the stagers including Peter Martins who were elated with her performances on stage. To have been chosen by all of these well known and highly respected artists is evidence enough of her talent and ability and certain proof of her success as a performer.

Monica Parker for The Royal Ballet chose whom she thought would present Manon in the best light and that is why Cavallo danced opening night, Effy. To suggest that she has such a narrow scope as to choose a dancer based solely on technique is a stretch to say the least. She was awarded those roles for outstanding talent and charisma and as an outside observer I think she deserves credit for that. She certainly, as an American in a Danish ballet company, has no other leverage except talent to put her on stage. I read in one of the chat forums that she was the favorite of all of the RDB directors that she has danced for except Maina Gielgud. (if she wasn’t Gielgud’s favorite she was certainly respected by her: She danced many lead roles and was promoted to principal under her tenure). One can call it favoritism, I call it artistic integrity – putting the best dancers in the best roles. I simply do not see how all of these artistic directors, choreographers and stagers could have had lapses in judgment. Rather, it is truly the recognition of exceptional talent by these very diverse experts that has put Cavallo on the stage so much over such a long period of time (more than 10 years with the company).

One sterling validation of Cavallo’s talent was the granting of the Bournonville Award to her in 2002. What higher honor could a dancer receive than to be recognized by the holders and descendants of the Bournonville trust? What better proof of her mastery of the very style that defines the Royal Danish Ballet?

We, as observers can certainly express our opinion, but as I’ve said before it is only our opinion. And whether we appreciate her talent or not, it’s hard to argue when so many expert artists have recognized and put to use Cavallo’s talent as a ballerina. –Anna

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I have nothing against Caroline Cavallo, but I think similar hagiographies can be put together also for other RDB dancers, for example Silja Schandorff and Rose Gad.

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Exactly, Jorgen. And, like Effy, I know people, including dancers and "experts," who prefer Gad or Schandorff over Cavallo, and who were surprised when she was made a principal. I'm not surprised there are opposing views -- there usually are.

I don't have anything against Ms. Cavallo either, but she's not the company's prima ballerina assoluta, and I think her career should be looked at in perspective. Anna, yes, she did dance the leading roles in the ballets that you list, but she was not first cast in most of them, either at premieres or repremieres. As Jorgen points out, one could compile the same list for several others. To be fair to all the RDB dancers, though, they've had so many directors in the past decade, each with a different aesthetic, that making a list of who danced what doesn't say as much about the dancers as it does about the directors, in some cases. (Michelle Larsen was the Sylph and Juliet of choice a few years back.) There were dancers who were benched by Schaufuss who resurfaced under Gielgud, only to disappear again with Eliason, etc. Or the other way 'round.

There are directors who like to use Cavallo, yes, but I've also interviewed directors who did not, for some of the same reasons expressed here. As for the critics, I don't have the impression that Cavallo is universally acclaimed (I don't read all the reviews, but I do get regular reports, as several of my friends are critics there.) She gets mixed reviews -- perhaps less so from one critic than the others -- as do the other dancers.

I also think it should be said that the "Bournonville Award" is not the Oscars. I hope my Danish friends will forgive me for saying that there seem to be a lot of odd little awards that pop up there from time to time -- I remember a Hans Christian Andersen award that disappeared as suddenly as it appeared a few years back, for example (and that had nothing to do with H.C. Andersen), and various Scandinavian Friendship and Cooperation Prizes. It's not that there's a venerable Bournonville Trust that's been protecting his works all these years and gives out awards to the greatest exemplar of his style, voted on by all the members of an Academy.

Effy, I don't think comparing dancers is wrong at all! I think most people do it, and I thought the way you laid out your comparisons was very useful and very interesting. We all have measuring sticks, and it's interesting to read when someone can set out why so clearly.

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Aspirant, are you there? I thought of you tonight, watching the Suzanne Farrell Ballet do "Serenade." Bonnie Pickard did the Girl Who Falls Down, one clip in the hair, which was starting to come out of the clip from her last entrance before the fall, suggesting perhaps she'd started loosening it in the wings. When she fell, she did one big, bold movement and got the clip out and the hair fell (and, with her red hair, she looked beautiful, dancing with it long and loose).

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That sounds better than all the elbows that I've been seeing as of late!

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A late reply to Anna. I am sorry that I haves missed this thread over the last couple of days. I have been following the Royal Danish Ballet for more than 20 years and I do not know about the prestigeus Bournonville Award. I know of The Bournonville Legat, which is one of several internal awards within the RDB. In Denmark the higest awards for a dancer would be either the The Theatre Pokal, The Reumert Dancer of the year award or Niels Mathiasens Memory award but in general the are few awards for dancers and we are not an awardtuned nation.

I do not question that Cavallo is a dancer of a high caliber and a strong and steady performer. I have rooted for her when she got her first opportunities in Serenade many years ago and I have rooted a lot since. Yes she has been in a lot of productions but the RDB usually over the period of approx. 3 years each production are kept in repetoire allows 3 -5 dancers for each part. For Martins Swan Lake the premiere was danced by Silja Schandorf with Kenneth Greve, Heidi Ryom as a farewell performance with Hubbe, Cavallo with Massot and Gitte Lindstrom with Mads Blangstrup (then very young and the cast I was told was Martins "invention" and favorate cast). ForSleeping beauty some years back four casts was scheduled Gad/possorov, Cavallo,Riggins, Schandorff.Greve (who later got the television version) and Olsson/Thordahl Christensen). Re. that production I was told that Helgi Tomasson wanted Cavallo for the premiere, but this not get his wish fullfilled. Why? I have always believed that it was consided a bad political move for the RDB at that time to give the premiere to a totally foreign cast of a very expensive production. It would be like admitting publically that the RDB school was not doing it job. So some you loose and some you win. I have no problem with accepting Helgi Tomassons choice because he was the author of this performance, but I sometimes as in the case of Manon find myself that a certain casts would not really be McMillans choice and in experience I can tell that there is often a great difference between the casting done by the choreographer and by apoointed dicertors and caretakers. Often a choreographer will make a bolder choice and often a choice based on dramatic abilities or personality. Cavallo is in my view a dancer who may have benefitted by the fact that we get very few original choreographers visiting RDB today, but a lot of appointed directors. When John Neumeier is working himself with the company, he casts Kenneth Greve/Martin James, Silha Schandorff/Rose Gad as well as very young dancers like Sarah van Patten and second tier dancers like Francisco Nappa and Marie Pierre Greve in leading roles. As I accept his freedom as choreographer I may also accept his choices,even though they may not be in tune with my own viewpoints.

I once read an article by Arlene Croce re. NYCB ballerinas where she concluded that some dancers got more parts than what their talents deserved because any ballet master will eventually start to prefer the dancers who are good workers, who are reliable and less prune to injuries over the greater but more fragile talent . This may have been the reason that Heidi Ryom ended up with such a large repetoire ompared to her conteperaryes Mette-Ida Kirk, Lis Jeppesen and Linda Hindberg whos talents were recognised decades before Ryom and who had all ben made principal dances 5 -8 years before her. The reliability of Cavallo and her eagerness to put in the hours may be a factor. With Cavallo you know what you get, but it is somestimes more exiting to watch a dancer who can give you what you did not expect.

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Thanks for your comments. I've become reluctant to rely on stories regarding casting unless I've heard it from the instruktor and have a way of judging whether s/he's saying what they think, or what they know they have to say, or are giving a polite answer, or a political one. I've found there are usually four or five different versions of any story, often deeply believed by the person telling it, but sometimes someone's best guess rather than what really went on behind closed doors. (I write that having had to work on unraveling backstage stories for my research, and I'm sure the RDB isn't the only company with multiple versions!)

Personally, I agree with Effy's comment: "With Cavallo you know what you get, but it is sometimes more exiting to watch a dancer who can give you what you did not expect." But I think this thread has shown that she has her admirers and her detractors, and we're unlikely to come to a consensus. I would have been interested to see her do Piano Concerto. I didn't see these performances and so I'll defer to those who did :thumbsup:

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I'm with Alexandra that we're unlikely to get to the bottom of this one; Cavallo seems to be one of those dancers one takes sides about - and it's less about her (she seems quite sweet!) than about the company itself; does she represent the direction one wants the company to take? Personally, I was not taken with her in Bournonville, but she's a "leggy" dancer and would be interested to see her in Balanchine - my guess is it would suit her. Then the question becomes, how do RDB goers want to see the company dance Balanchine? In an "authentic" style (whatever that is, which is very open to debate) or a "native" one?

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How do we Danes prefer our Balanchine? Unfortunately we have only had the older Balanchine works. I do not think we have had anything newer than Stravinsky Violin Concerto, so we are feed on a diet of works mainly from the 40ties and 50ties. We do get NYCB here at regular intervals, so we can compare the styles. The RDB dances seems to bring a dramatic flavour to the ballets which i think is becoming to most works, even Agon. As one critic pointed out when Mette-Ida Kirks danced the pas de deux - It may be abstract, but it is not without meaning. And at one of the high arabesque done with the front towards the audience, you did not look at her extension which was a perfect 6 O'clock and as high as Silja Schandorff or any NYCB ballerina - You looked at her face. We have allways has very fine soloist for Balanchine, but getting a strong and unison corps have been a problem - due to to few actually dancing members of the corps and also due to the fact that RDB do not have a standard height for dancers like RB, but it looks judged from the very fine Serenade performance that we now seem to get there. A factor is also than in order to dance good Balanchine you should dance Balanchine often, and we have had a few year with none or very few productions

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hi everyone,

i ve returned to copenhagen again, after a year in china. missed NYCB in september (at tivoli), but did catch opening night of the balanchine martins programme. i ve only now looked at some of the posts here and am surprised at how lively the exchange is. i can't really add anything of substance, i ve gone almost 2 years without watching ballet, so this opening night was a thrill (except for martins). is there also an opportunity to meet other ballet fans who live in copenhagen, watch performances together and discuss them over hylleblomst? i have a very busy schedule, so i would appreciate keeping up with ballet or dance through an informal group -

anyone aware of good modern dance classes by the way?

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:blushing: off topic, but rubria doesn't have PM options yet!

Danseshus has rotating teachers every week or so for the morning ballet and modern classes (with names like Tim Rushton, Sorella Englund and Wally Cardona)

KKA is better for your wallet, and has some interesting folks but the facilities aren't great.

Sceneindgang is just opening (on Sunday actually, with a free performance and gratis classes all week--check out their schedule online for ballet and modern) and is replacing the old Dansverkstedet on Meinungsgade.

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Welcome back, Rubria!!! I'm glad you remembered us. And thanks for the very appropriate and helpful OT comments, aspirant :blushing:

I was trying to come up with a list of Balanchine ballets danced by the RDB since the 1930s, and I'm sure this is incomplete, but it's a start:

Apollo, Concerto Barocco, Symphony in C, Serenade, Four Temperaments, Agon, Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, Tzigane, Theme and Variations, Tchaikovsky pas de deux.

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Adding to the list:

Allegro Brilliante, Symphony in C, Divertimento nr 15, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, The Sonambule, Rubies, Bouree Fantastique, (1963), Donizetti Variantion (1968) , Duo Consertante (at gallas, never in repetoire) and off cause The Legend of Joseph and some earlier ballet in 1932 (?) when Balanchine spend one year as ballet master in Copenhagen

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Did Balanchine do a "Legend of Joseph" too? The one I'm familiar with is Massine's, and was the last time he appeared onstage in tights in the title role. Parisian critics had noted his muscularity and said the ballet should have been called "Les Jambes de Joseph"! :unsure:

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What would you have wished for in a Balanchine/Martins triple-bill, if you could have chosen:

1) Among what's currently in the rep?

2) Among all ballets?

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Mel, when Balanchine first came to Copenhagen, he was asked to stage certain ballets. According to Svend Kragh-Jacobsen, this was at the wish of the conductor, who also was directing the ballet company at the time. He wanted to conduct the scores. I'd writtten the 1930s above, but it must have been 1930, because Lander came in in '31 (and, of course, Balanchine had a job until Diaghilev's death in '29.

It was Massine's Joseph Legend (with Borge Ralov). Also Balanchine's Barabau. I'd have to look up the others. I think Spectre, which Balanchine danced, with Ulla Paulsen.

Thanks for your amendments, Effy -- I knew you'd know smile.gif And I hope you and Jorgen, aspirant, kaydemark et al. will answer Helene's question.

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I would probably chose the Balanchine/Martins programme without any Martins, but maybe a Robbins instead:

How about:

Divertimento nr 15

Mozartiana

Thaikovsky pas de deux

Who Cares

Or

Fancy Free

Glas Pieces

Symphony in C

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a ridiculous proposition:

La Sonambula

The Steadfast Tin Soldier

Prodigal Son

(the danes know their drama)

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Not at all ridiculous, aspirant! Tin Soldier was made for a Dane (Peter Schaufuss)....although that might preclude its being in repertory :wink:

Sonnambula was once one of their staples. Prodigal Son was more short-lived, I think. It was brought in for Flemming Flindt, whom I would imagine would have beem marvelous in it.

I like Effy's list, too. Mozartiana is a half-Danish ballet, anyway :) (since the man's part was done on Ib Andersen).

Davidsbundlertanz is 3/8 Danish -- all but one of the men in the original cast were Danes.

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Those are great lists! Since "Steadfast Tin Soldier" is a short ballet and in the US is paired with another, may I suggest moving Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux from Effy's program as the second half of the pair? The music for it was the original Black Swan pas de deux from Swan Lake :)

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