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Stars of the Danish Royal Ballet in Brooklyn


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#1 liebs

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Posted 26 January 2004 - 05:56 PM

First, it seems a shame to me that NYC cann't see the full company. To add insult to injury, the "Stars" performance was at Brooklyn College - an unattractive college auditorium although it has good sight lines. On the upside, there were an unusal number of African-American audiece members - so kudos to Brooklyn College on their marketing strategy and community audience development.

But, the performance took place on a bare stage, with a not very good sound system or tape (not sure which is to blame) and mediocre lighting. Hard to judge anything under these conditions. The printed program was full of inaccuracies, listing the same three dancers for three pieces - one of which was the Flower Festival ppd. So in some cases, I'm not sure who danced.

But, we did get to see some wonderful dancers including Hubbe, Schandorff, Blangstrup, Amy Watson and Thomas Lund. The program opened with a pas de trois from "Conservatory". Schandorff, Blangstrup and Claire Still got a slow start but brought the piece to a successful conclusion.

Watson and Lund did the ppd from Wilhelm Tell beautifully. Lund has fantastic legs tapering to beautiful feet and uses them well in the petit allegro that is a Bournville signature. Watson seemed at home in this style and had lots of charm.

An excerpt on a bare stage is not a fair way to judge Hubbe's La Sylphide in which he danced James and Cavallo danced the Sylph. I wasn't much charmed by her, she's seems to be a nice dancer but this was a generic interpretation of the role. Hubbe looked stylish, happy and relaxed. This stuff is in his blood and he seemed happy to be dancing it - both here and in the Tarantella from Napoli.

Two pieces or excerpts of pieces by Tim Rushton followed. To me, they seemed like imitation "Trisha Brown", follwed by fake "Twyla Tharp."

Flower Festival ppd proceeded Napoli. I'm guessing that it was danced by Dawid Kupinski, based on Alexandra's description. In any case, the dancer had a lovely and light jump.

Napoli pas de six and Tarantella closed the program. Obviously, stamina was not an issue in this excerpt. I particularly liked Lund and Schandorff. Watson did the role with the scarf, again charmingly.

I haven't seen the company as a whole since the 80's and never saw them often enough to be aware of the finer points of style that Alexandra brings up in her review. What is clear is that Bournville has universal appeal, the Brooklyn audience (by no means a "dance audience") responded strongly to his work on this program. Also clear is that NYC is deprieved of a great deal of pleasure by not seeing the full company. Come on City Center or Lincoln Center Festival bring them over!

#2 Alexandra

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Posted 26 January 2004 - 06:08 PM

Thank you for that, liebs. A friend called me earlier today to tell me about the cast changes and inaccuracies. Apparently Schandorff didn't dance. She's quite tall, with auburn hair now (those who saw her in the 90s might remember a blonde.)

I might have this wrong, but I think I was told that Conservatoriet was danced by Cavallo and Diana Cuni. She's a small, dark-haired soloist (and a very good dancer, I think).

I can't help untangle any of the others, I'm afraid. There are photos on the RDB's web site here Then click on Staff (left), then there are the rankings, and eventually photos.

#3 liebs

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Posted 26 January 2004 - 07:52 PM

I'm now totally confused. There were 2 red heads in Tarantella and I don't think Cavallo, who danced the Sylph. was in Conservatory. The dancer I liked in that piece had pale brown hair and was medium height and slightly built. She wore a pale blue costume in Napoli. It is really a shame that the program can not be done correctly. Unfair to both the dancers and the audience.

If you have a chance, any one, go see them at NJPAC.

#4 Alexandra

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Posted 26 January 2004 - 10:16 PM

When the company was here, Femke Molbach Slot alternated with Schandorff as the blue girl in Napoli and she has reddish hair, if that's any help. I've asked someone who saw the performance to email me if he can identify the dancers.

#5 Alexandra

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Posted 27 January 2004 - 05:33 AM

Here are the cast changes (from a knowledgeable viiewer, not from the company):

in KONSERVATORIET C.Cavallo danced in place of S.Schandorff

in the SYLPHIDE selections Femke Molbach Slot was replaced by Claire Still.

in NOMADE the central couple was Tina Hojlund and Mads Blangstrup

in TRIPLEX the dancers were: Diana Cuni, Dawid Kupinski and (as givem)
Nikolai Hansen

the FLOWER FESTIVAL p.d.d. was danced by Hojlund and Kristoffer Sakurai

Liebs, Kristoffer Sakurai is tall with dark hair. Dawid Lupinski is tall with very short blond hair. I don't know whether that helps or not!

#6 GabbyN

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Posted 27 January 2004 - 06:42 PM

I was there Sunday.
The mistakes in the program were very upsetting, because this was my first time seeing this company, and I really do not recognize dancers by face. Also as Liebs pointed out, lightening wasn’t quite there, sometimes with weird shadows appearing on stage.
Overall I really enjoyed performance, especially because some of the numbers I saw for the first time. And I though dancers technique was amazing.
I’m so happy that Brooklyn Center For the Performing Arts (it’s three blocks from there I live, and I never knew that they have such performances) brings such a interesting companies, in October I went to see Suzanne Farrell’s company, I also saw “Nutcracker” and looking forward seeing many more.

#7 Alexandra

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Posted 27 January 2004 - 07:07 PM

Thank you for that Gabby -- living three blocks from a theater, I hope you will go to more performance and tell us about them!

Bad lighting and taped music isn't good news, though. It's all too common now, and of course, it's because of lack of funds, but still...I'm glad you could enjoy the performance despite the problems!

#8 Drew

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Posted 27 January 2004 - 10:23 PM

I have never been able to figure out how to do accents over letters when posting, so please just imagine them whenever they are needed...

The Principles and Soloists of the Royal Danish Ballet came to Atlanta with a less Bournonville-centric program than was seen in Brooklyn. I was initially disappointed, but in some ways it may have turned out for the best.

Having read these earlier posts, I am now a bit paranoid about who I may or may not have seen and, in any case, seeing a group of dancers give a one time only performance of excerpts is not the best way to learn who they are or what they are trying to do. From this group. the only one of the dancers I had seen before was Hubbe. That said, barring mistakes in the program, the dancer who most impressed and delighted me all evening (other than Hubbe) was Tina Hojlund. In both modern and Bournonville works she seemed wonderfully all-of-a-piece, dynamic, and engaging...I can't really judge as an expert, but she seemed to me to "fit" the Bournonville choreography better than anyone else on stage...

Anyway, the program in Atlanta began with Apollo with Hubbe and (according to the listings) Schandorff, Cavallo, and Still. Schandorff or whoever was dancing Terpsichore (she did not have auburn or blond hair) had a nice freedom of movement and from a pure ballet perspective, I think, Apollo turned out to be by far and away the most satisfying experience of the evening. I thought this was a lovely performance in which Hubbe's precision, beauty, and dynamism combined with the purity and lightness of all three women to cast something of a spell...(The "ballet talk" thread on hokey critical phrases keeps nagging at me as I type, but I'm not doing this professionally, so I guess I can be as hokey as I want.) The taped music did nearly wreck things at one point, when the tape seemed to hit a glitch right before one of Hubbe's solos. His complete concentration and command saved the moment and the ballet right there...

The middle section of the program had two contemporary works by Rushton: Nomade (with -- always, according to the listings -- Hojlund and Blangstrup) and Triplex (with Cuni, Kupinski, and Hansen). In the latter I was struck by the woman's lovely classical lines and lightness, yet couldn't help feelilng that, as lovely as she was, this admitedly slight piece of choreography, which Liebs described as 'fake Twyla Tharp,' would have looked better danced by modern dancers. (I think much real Tharp choreography looks better danced by modern dancers.) I also thought the dancers, though superb, looked a touch careful now and then. Oddly enough, Nomad, where the vocabulary seemed a little more Grahamesque, seemed to suit these dancers better, and the soloists in that work brought a lot of power to it. Still, it was also very slight.

This section of the program concluded with an excerpt from Act II of La Sylphide, with Cavallo, Hubbe and three sylphs: Hojlund, Molbach Slot, and Cuni -- Hojlund (or, at any rate, the first of the sylphs to make an entrance, and offering an almost blurrily fluttering pas de bourree) was just lovely. Hubbe, too, danced beautifully, but he was never a big jumper in my experience, and he now has no bounce whatsoever, and also decidedly fudges his double tours. Allowing for that, however, he really shows you, even in excerpt, what a genuinely fine performance of this role might look like. I quite agree with what Liebs wrote above about a kind of joy in this repertory showing through his dancing. Like Liebs, too, I was less than charmed by Cavallo, though I wasn't sure why -- I thought perhaps her upper body seemed stiffer, perhaps, than was ideal.

However, I should add that I don't find the excerpt approach to Act II of Sylphide at all effective -- for me, it was a pleasure to have the opportunity to see some more Bournonville etc., but I would just as soon have seen some of the company's less frequently performed Bournonville repertory, especially as it at least seems more suited to excerpt form. (That said, a friend of mine who only attends the ballet occasionally thought this was the high point of the evening.)

The program closed with the pas de six and Tarantella from Napoli. I have never seen a full length Napoli, though I have seen a 'complete' Act III, and it is one of my all time favorite scenes in ballet. I was particularly fortunate to see casts led by Arne Villumsen, Linda Hindberg, Lis Jeppesen et. al. This evening's performance was certainly a pleasure -- if an uneven pleasure -- to see. The pas de six looked a little too dry and academic to me at first, though I suppose they want to work up to the tarantella. Still I was a little grumpy when Lund made his first appearance of the evening and was obviously doing some of the finest male dancing of the evening technically and yet seemed completely expressionless...fortunately things picked up when all the other dancers arrived on stage with tambourines and much of what followed was very good, including Lund who picked up in dash and expression. I particularly liked the way the dancers 'fed' off of each other, and flirted with each other, so that here and there the whole thing had just the right spontaneous feeling. One or two of the 'backround' dancers, in particular, seemed to have things just right, though some others and some of the soloists less so. Once again, Hojlund was an absolute delight. She was in yellow (there were actually two girls in yellow -- I thought the other may have been Cuni) and danced the solo that has an arabesque at least somewhat penche on pointe...Anyway, her dancing had wonderful inflections, upper and lower body working together, so the whole thing had a demi-character feel, while still showing a very fine classical technique.

I'm pretty sure Cavallo was doing the Teresina (dusty blue color). She once danced with the Atlanta ballet and, here in Atlanta, was given the only solo bow of the evening when the ballet was over -- the audience was appreciative and I should add I liked her better in this than in Sylphide; actually I quite liked her in this, and liked the way Lund presented her, except that when he threw himself to the ground, he went down so slowly and carefully (actually didn't throw himself at all) that I was a little bemused and not in a good way. Let's just say that it was my moment to miss Arne Villumsen. Anyway, elsewhere he showed a wonderfully supple back and a more forceful presentation all round. Hubbe also made an appearance that had a lot of sparkle. Altogether, the whole of the tarantella was very enjoyable...

I feel the above sounds just a little reserved or, perhaps as if I can't quite make up my mind. I find it hard not to compare the present dancers to those I've seen in the past -- even just the past "Soloists of the Royal Danish Ballet," a group that included Niels Kehlet and Ib Andersen when I saw it. With Apollo, at least, one felt one was seeing a serious performance of a substantive work, led by a great dancer...With Napoli, it was just a very good, if uneven performance of dances abstracted from a substantive work. Perhaps I'm just jealous of those who saw the company in D.C.

#9 Effy

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Posted 28 January 2004 - 02:34 AM

I miss Arne Villumsen too!!! You can buy the full Napoli with Arne Villumsen on video, but Arne Villumsens speed and threedimentiinal dancing cannot be 100% captured on video.
Thank you for a very fine report. I saw the Apollo with Hubbe a few months back and also concluded allthough he is past his prime he make a marveoullous performance. I have seen his first Apollon with RDB, but his mature Apollon is much more interesting. From your report I cannot tell who danced Tersiphore. If it was Silja Schandorff you would have had a very fine performance as it is one of her best roles. Her hair is now darker blond. She is very tall and with a one-in-a-million face. If the dancer was slighter build with very dark hair and large eyes it could have been Marie Pierre Greve. Gitte Lindstrøm may also be an option (thin with a face like a cat). AsIi stated earlier it is so interesting for us Dane to get your reviews and view of our dancers. We may sometimes be a bit to partial as we see the dancers all the time and sometimes say As she is so good in this , she is also good in that. I am particularty pleased with the fine reports on Tina Højlund, who is a very gifted and unusual dancer. She do not fit into catagories or types,she is truly and allways herself. The choreographer Tim Rushton has done several pieces with Tina and sha had a period of leave recently to work with his company.

#10 Alexandra

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Posted 28 January 2004 - 06:31 AM

Thank you for that, Drew -- I'm also glad you liked Tina Hojlund! I've been puzzled why four directors have overlooked her, giving her very few soloist parts (she was an aspirant in 1992 and a lot of people were noticing her then. Several dancers I'm in contact with consider her the finest Bournonville dancer now in the company.)

It is hard to judge a company from a small group of soloists, but what you write sounds pretty much like what we got -- if you'd seen this "Napoli" I think you'd have noticed that it wasn't like the Ib Andersen-Kehlet days too.


For identification purposes -- if Schandorff danced, she'd have been the tallest woman in the group, although you may have only noticed that in curtain calls.

#11 Effy

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Posted 28 January 2004 - 06:41 AM

Yes Tina Højlund has had a bit of an on/off career, often considered the modern dancer among the classical ones and the classical one among the modern. She have also had her share of injurys. As far as the modern/classical issue she has done one of the best Rubies I ever seen in RDB and I understand that she is very good in Serenade as well - but they are also great modern ballets as well!

She is very good in Bournonville, again making it her own and she is truly a musical dancer.
I am particulary grateful that she has been so well received in the US, because if there is one thing that RDB management respects, it is the American Public and viewers

#12 Nanatchka

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Posted 28 January 2004 - 09:46 AM

It is unfortunate that that respect did not extend to overseeing the proper production of a program for their Brooklyn audience. (All this would require is the sending and receiving of a fax.) Failing that, there should have been a clear announcement at the opening, or even better, a program insert. One should always assume that somewhere in the house are Ballet Talkers and Ballet Alertniks and their like--and besides, one should be courteous to all in the house, and to the dancers, by identifying them properly.

#13 Drew

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Posted 28 January 2004 - 02:17 PM

Effy and Alexandra -- the program definitely said Schandorff was dancing Terpsichore and (unlike in Brooklyn) seems not to have had obvious errors in it, but based on your descriptions of the dancers, I think I may have been seeing Marie-Pierre Greve. However, I was not sitting terribly close and since I don't know and don't want to short change anyone, I'll just say I thought it was a lovely performance.

#14 Alexandra

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Posted 28 January 2004 - 02:43 PM

Greve is tall, too -- although I wonder if she really made the tour? She was not in D.C. and Kenneth Greve was injured and also didn't come.

Again, the best way to check is to go to the company's web site and look at the mug shots :)

Go here and click on the Staff link in the lefthand nav bar. That takes you to a page with a list of the rankings -- you can find principals, soloists, corps, and if you click on the dancer's name, there will be a photo.

#15 Drew

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Posted 28 January 2004 - 03:34 PM

Thanks Alexandra -- I had checked the link when you first posted it above, and checked again after the performance. I'm confident about some dancers (e.g. Hojlund) and I actually think the listings in Atlanta were basically accurate, but based on people's descriptions the Terpsichore has become something of a question mark in my mind. Both Marie-Pierre Greve and Schandorff (not Lindstrom) were listed as being with the group in Atlanta and Schandorff was listed as dancing in Apollo.

Sometimes this sort of thing makes me crazy, but I'm trying to be more philosophical -- I saw a performance of the ballet which, as a whole, was characterized by a kind of simplicity and purity that was very effective and effectively 'centered,' too, by a very charismatic Apollo (Hubbe). Anyway, if someone happens to find out for sure who danced Terpsichore in Atlanta by all means post the information...


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