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silvy

women in RDB - still weaker than the men?

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First of all, I must confess that my exposure to Bournonville es very slight.

From what I read, and from some videos I have seen, I got the idea that, at least some time ago, the women in the Royal Danish Ballet were weaker than the men. Meaning, that the RDB turned out exceptionally good male ballet dancers, while this was not that true regarding the women.

Firsst of all, I would like to know if my assumption is true, and, if it does, if this is still the case.

Just curious

Silvy

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I think there are two reasons for this perception. One, that the RDB has turned out so many world class male dancers, especially for such a small country; and two, because the female roles in the surviving Bournonville ballets are so different from those in the surviving Petipa ballets -- Bournonville didn't create ballerina-dominant ballets where the ballerina did 7 variations and 4 supported adagios. Also, during the real glory days of Danish male dancing -- the 1960s -- there were more first-rate men than women, and the ballerinas weren't considered quite at the level of their partners.

That said, there have been some wonderful Danish ballerinas. In this century Margot Lander, Margrethe Schanne, Kirsten Ralov, Mona Vangssae (who created Ashton's Juliet), Kirsten Simone, Anna Laerkesen, Mette Honningen, Sorella Englund (Finnish, but spent her career in Denmark), Lis Jeppesen, Mette-Ida Kirk, Rose Gad and Silja Schandorff. Others would nominate some more names, I think.

Today, from what I saw in DC a few months ago, the women are stronger than the men. The RDB hasn't been turning out a steady stream of great male dancers in quite a while.

I'd be very interested in a Danish perspective on this.

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I've only seen the RDB once, when they were in Washington DC in January. Based on those performances I would never suspect that the women had ever been weaker than the men. The women looked very strong to me. Silja Schandorff and Gudrun Bojeson would make their mark in any ballet company in the world.

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I'd agree -- and you didn't see Rose Gad (injured). But the company has had an absolute terrible time since the early '90s -- four different directors, lots of firings, emigrations, changes at the school, changes back, changes again. Danish men of the last 50 years of the 20th century who made careers abroad: Erik Bruhn, Flemning Flindt, Peter Maritns, Peter Schaufuss, Ib Andersen, Nikolaj Hubbe. And men their equal who stayed at home: Fredbjorn Bjornsson, Henning Kronstam, Niels Kehlet, Arne Villumsen, Alexander Kolpin. To name a few :)

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A little :offtopic: but I wonder if Margot Lander is the same ballerina as Toni Lander? (who dances Myrtha opposite Carla Fracci's Giselle with ABT)?

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No -- but they were married (at different times) to the same man: Harald Lander, who directed the company in the 1930s and 1940s.

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Of the RDB women I saw on video I can single out the following

- Lis Jeppesen - wonderful "Sylphide"

- Toni Lander - an imposing Myrtha - and her bourres in Myrtha's entrance always manage to take my breath away...

-Heidi Ryom - oddly enough, in BAlanchine's Tchaikowsky pdd opposite Nikolaj Hubbe (from a gala in Argentina which was recorded from TV a long time ago). I am amazed at her speed - she does not look like a Romantic ballerina at all, but very contemporary

-Rose Gad - as Lucile Grahn (of course!!! she was Danish) in one of Nina Ananiashvili's galas (NA and International Stars) - she is charming, while being imposing also. She leaves me wanting to see her more

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On the "Sylphide" video you can see some other RDB ballerinas. James's mother is Kirsten Simone; Madge is Sorella Englund (of course these aren't dancing roles, but they're still beautifully done. Next time you see it, watch for Simone's little scene in the forest, where Effy turns to her and asks what to do and she simply raises her hand to say "I can't help you" and turns away. It's her future, too -- she's dooming herself to an old age in poverty, without protection, but she cannot influence the girl.

Speaking of whom -- Ann Kristin Hauge, now an architect (or last I heard) is Effy and a wonderful one. And Silja Schandorff, very young, is the first Sylph.

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I think that there are a lot of wonderful women on kgs nytorv. Lindström,bojesen, Schandorff of the principals, others are Tina Hoejlund, Femke Slot and Sascha Haugland and these are dancing now, before them you have all mentioned almost them all.

Talent will always come forward, but it needs good coaching, and that brings us back to the problems with the direction...

So i don't think to say that the women are weaker is true, but as any good machinery it needs first class supervising and high maintenance.

Edited by Mary

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Of the RDB women I saw on video I can single out the following

- Lis Jeppesen - wonderful "Sylphide"

- Toni Lander - an imposing Myrtha - and her bourres in Myrtha's entrance always manage to take my breath away...

-Heidi Ryom - oddly enough, in BAlanchine's Tchaikowsky pdd opposite Nikolaj Hubbe (from a gala in Argentina which was recorded from TV a long time ago). I am amazed at her speed - she does not look like a Romantic ballerina at all, but very contemporary

-Rose Gad - as Lucile Grahn (of course!!! she was Danish) in one of Nina Ananiashvili's galas (NA and International Stars) - she is charming, while being imposing also. She leaves me wanting to see her more

I stumbled over this old post when I googled "Nikolaj Hübbe+Heidi Ryom+Argentina" to find out when this video found on youtube was made:

Does anyone know, if it is from the same gala mentioned above, and, in case, when that was? To me it looks like early nineties.

Both sound and picture are of a terrible quality, but there exists so very few recordings with Hübbe, not to speak of Ryom, that it is interesting to see even a scrubby little video like this.

Silvy is right, that Ryom looks a very modern dancer, and that she possesses an incredible speed and precision in her dancing. In that aspect she reminds me of many British ballerinas (tiny, speedy and strong). She developed a lot during her career, and in the end she covered the full scale, both the modern, the comic (she could be extremely witty, making clever use of her big eyes and strange features) and the fullblown romantic repertoire (no-one was a more heart-wrenching Odette or Juliet or Tatiana than she was).

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