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#16 jorgen

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 03:44 PM

Regarding Amy Watson in Manon:
I found her very good as the Mistress, paired with Jean-Lucien Massot as Lescaut. She danced it with joy and wit. The drunk scene was always a good laugh.

#17 aspirant

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 04:08 PM

The second Serenade cast (with cuni, hojlund and greve) was quite good. Each of these women has a distinctly different take on their role than the first cast, which is also exciting to see. Ringdahl was noble, if a bit casual at times.

I have a question, however about the hair in Serenade. I have seen this ballet a great deal, and can't say that I ever recall actually "seeing" when the dancers hair comes down ---and she pitches her hairclip into the SR wing---more than with this group. Perhaps it is just that they have complex updo's? Is it a moment meant to be seen and have I just missed it all along?

Octet with Blangstrup and Lindstrom (and Wei/ Sakurai again) was laden with more emotion than with the Schandorff/Bowman pair. They seemed to have more chemistry, and I have found that Blangstrup has a much more acute sense of emoting vs. overdoing it which Bowman tends to do.
I think that Birkkjaer is certainly someone to look out for. I'm not sure if he is an apprentice or has graduated into the company, either way he is well on his way.

Piano Concerto second cast was equally as dazzling as the first. Bojesen lacks a bit of the American "so there!" that is needed to punctuate the ends of some of the turns, but was still delightful with Massot. Both Still and Watson are having a time negotiating the many downstage double-pirouettes in the pas de troix, but I suppose that I would be nervous about falling into the pit if I were in their position! I must admit that this ballet alternates between being fascinating and 10 minutes too long for me.

#18 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 04:42 PM

Thank you Jorgen and Aspirant!

Aspirant - I'm quite fond of Piano Concerto No. 2, but it is a long haul. I think my recording of the concerto clocks in at 41 minutes.

The hair in Serenade should be like the hair in Giselle, unnoticeable, but at least it's a bit easier in Giselle because Berthe can smoothe out her daughter's hair on the pretext of comforting her. The poor Waltz Girl needs to unclip her hair while doing chaines and it stays the way it looks when unclipped, which can sometimes be a bit lumpy and plastered. I remember seeing one woman frantically picking out hair pins and spinning ever more slowly and wobbly. . .and then of course her hair fell in one post-hairspray clump.

#19 Alexandra

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 02:11 PM

I can't remember the last time I saw Serenade hair tumble to the ground without being preceded by a tussle with the pins -- better hairspray today? worse pins?

I agree, ideally one shouldn't notice it.

#20 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 04:23 PM

I know that a lot of women, when being honored with either of those two roles, will spend a good deal of time trying to figure out a one-clip hairstyle. It takes some work in front of the mirror (and the right kind of hair, probably.)

Juliet? I'm betting you know more about this (and anyone else too. Liebling? What say you on easy-release hairdos? If this becomes an actual topic I'll split it off. . .)

#21 Anna_onpointe

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 05:36 PM

I have followed the Royal Danish Ballet for many years and have sat through wonderful performances as well as those I would rather not see again. I have spoken with the dancers, choreographers, and the ballet-wise Danish audiences at intermissions. I know one thing—the Company has some great principals: strong men and beautiful women. Among them but not limited to them are Caroline Cavallo, Rose Gad, Silja Schandorff and the rising Gudrun Bojesen.

With what has been said here about Caroline Cavallo, one can surmise that they may not be totally unbiased in their comments. I and others I have spoken with cannot understand their viewpoints—which, of course, they are entitled to. I have seen Cavallo dance both “La Sylphide” at the beginning of the month and recently “Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto #2.” She danced with brilliant technique, wonderful musicality and has an unmistakable stage presence. As the Sylph she captured that ethereal quality, and glided across the stage with her beautiful lines—long graceful arms (and hands) and legs. The audience loved her performance also, and gave an extended and thunderous “in unison” applause as the Europeans are known to do.

In “Piano Concerto” her musicality and mastery of the movements were obvious to all who know ballet. Clair Still, the other lead, is also a very graceful well-trained dancer who deserves more than the bashing she received at this site recently. The ballet is technically very difficult and both dancers were up to the challenge. Cavallo, especially, pulled off a “tour de force” and the audience knew it; again the dancers received a loud and warm appreciation at the end.

When it comes down to it, isn’t that what the art of ballet is deigned to achieve? If it reaches the hearts of the ballet lover, it is in everyway a tremendous success.

#22 Mel Johnson

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 05:54 PM

Welcome, Anna, to Ballet Talk, here at Ballet Alert! Online! :wub:

#23 Alexandra

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 06:31 PM

Welcome, Anna! Your comments are most welcome -- there is often disagreement on dancers; people tend to have strong likes and dislikes, as I'm sure you know. We wouldn't consider calling a dancer "clumsy" as bashing, though there will be those who would disagree with the assessment. There are several people who've posted on this thread who have been watching the company for many years, as well, and from the posts here, I doubt that we'd all agree on much! (But that's part of the fun of having a discussion group.) In a way, of course, we're all biased, but I happen either to know those who made the early posts on the thread, or have had fairly extensive email contact with them, and I'm sure that they don't have a personal ax to grind against any dancer.

Caroline Cavallo is very popular with some members of the audience, but I don't think the views stated here are atypical; I know quite a few people who share them. I liked her dancing in soloist roles when she first came to the company, but not in leading ones. I agree that she has a strong technique, but for me she has a narrow dramatic range -- she doesn't seem able to make each role distinctive (which I think is especially important in that repertory) -- and, for me, is lacking in mystery, a vague term, to be sure, but the ethereality in "La Sylphide" seems external to me. That said, I was glad to read a description of Cavallo's dancing from someone who does like her and can say why :wub:

I'd also say that even if everyone else in the house jumps to his/her feet to give a standing ovation, someone is welcome to dissent; I've been in audiences that applaud what I think are perfectly dreadful performances enthusiastically, and I've been in audiences where a performance that I think is wonderful (usually one that isn't obviously tricky or showy) gets barely a clap. I'm making these comments only because we've had a succession of new posters rush to the defense of dancers in the past week, and while I'm happy to have all the comments, I don't want people to be reluctant to post their opinions. Anna, you phrased your difference of opinion very delicately, in true Ballet Alert! spirit -- thank you! And welcome!

#24 Anna_onpointe

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Posted 23 November 2003 - 08:30 PM

Thank you, Mel Johnson and Alexandra for welcoming me to your site. I think my contribution to your talks will be sporadic at best since I travel a great deal and am not at my computer much. I travel to Copenhagen quite frequently and have fallen in love with the RDB over the years.

Alexandra, I appreciate your thoughts on my views and hope our differences in viewpoints will add to the fun of these discussions. It would be a dull world if everyone agreed on everything.

My comment on bashing was in reference to the Mayor McCheese McDonald’s commercials remark. I see no place for that in any kind of constructive critique of anything but fast food establishments—certainly not if the writer wants to make a legitimate point or even be taken seriously.

I hope to see the RDB when they perform in Washington, D.C. in January. I hope to see Gudren Bojesen dance since I have not had the chance to see her perform. Can anyone tell me where else they will be in the United States? Is there a smaller group of dancers that will be performing in other cities?

#25 Effy

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Posted 26 November 2003 - 07:08 AM

I recognise myself that I have some bias regarding Caroline Cavallo, who may also be one of the dancers I have seen most frequently over the last ten year. I may also add that the view among a large group of steady attendees at the Royal Ballet is less positive regarding Caroline Cavallo. It is not that she is disliked, nor not respected as a strong dancer, but that people, including myself feel that she gets more leading roles than what her talent - or any talent can honour. Without doing a statistic count, she seems to get more part than Silja Schandorff, Gudrun Bojesen, Gitte Lindstrøm, Rose Gad, Christina Olsson, Marie Pierre Greve, Tina Højlund and Amy Vatson. Her repetoire include Sleeping Beauty, Lilac Fairy, 5 fairy, Swan Lake, Manon, Onegin, Romeo & Juliet, Etudes, La Sylphide, The Nutcracker, Napoli as well as a large number of shorter ballets. How any casting director can choose Cavallo befiore Schandorff for the premiere of Manon simple goes over my and even the critics understanding. I even asked a dancer I know privately why Cavallo gets such a large repetoire and she told me, that especially anglo-american directors choses Cavallo because she dances each step very academically correctly and that seems to appeal espcially to the group of second hand directors RDB seems to get. It may also be a factor that she is hardly ever injured, nor has she had periods of maternity leaves as other principals.
My personal view is that Cavallo lacks the dramatic qualities a Danish audience so cherish and personally I think she lacks charisma and line compared to the other Danish ballerinas. I would often rather see their take on the role and as long as
Schandorff and Olson do not dance Onegin, Bojesen and Lindstrøm do not dance Manon and Bojesen Romeo & Juliet etc. I cannot help myself wishing for another casting.

Being aware of my bias, I try to see Cavollo with fresh eyes each times but have so far not really been changed re. my opinion. Re. Piano Concerto I think she does what she can, but she has nothing to add that changes my feeling it is a somewhat dated ballet, which is an unusual view on a Balanchine work from me. I look forward to see Bojesen in the part.

Re. Clair Still she is meet with equal bias from a large part of the audience, and when questioned it is often explains as she is not pretty (We are use to very beautiful ballerinas in RDB). I myself am very fond of her light style

#26 Alexandra

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Posted 26 November 2003 - 07:24 AM

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.i...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).

#27 aspirant

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Posted 26 November 2003 - 02:39 PM

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!

#28 Alexandra

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Posted 26 November 2003 - 03:21 PM

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.

#29 Effy

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Posted 27 November 2003 - 02:49 AM

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.

#30 Anna_onpointe

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Posted 02 December 2003 - 04:05 PM

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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