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Bournonville, does he sell?Are more people coming than usual?


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#1 Mary

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Posted 10 August 2004 - 10:06 AM

I just had a thought if the royal danish ballet sells more tickets in the festival seasons than other seasons...

there are seasons where they sell very well, when they have the great storyballet on the rep, like Onegin, Romeo & juliet, Swan Lake and the like. so in what way does that influence the sales that this year there is hardly nothing but Bournonville.

The festival consists of only 13 shows in all i think... imagine all this for just that, is it worth it? Mr Andersens wish to be among the 3 best companies in the world is so immature, no other company wants to or should do as much Bournonville as RDB. so in that sense the battle is won.

"And the Bournonville prize goes again -as usual- to the sole contender RDB..."

#2 Mel Johnson

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Posted 11 August 2004 - 03:47 AM

I don't know that RDB would be the sole competitor worldwide for a "Bournonville Prize", because in the US, Bournonville is still looked upon as a sort of ineffable, mysterious way of dancing, even though it seems easy on the surface. "Simply danse d'ecole", but what a school. Companies and schools in the US try, and sometimes do surprisingly well, at doing Bournonville, essaying "Konservatoriet" and excerpts from Napoli. But both dancers and audiences here look to Bournonville as a sort of Golden Fleece, worthy of an heroic quest.

#3 jorgen

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Posted 11 August 2004 - 04:18 AM

Hi Mary. World top 3? I only heard Frank Anderson talking about top 5.

I am very excited about the Bournonville Festival and it's 8 performances. It's good for PR and good for keeping the company alert. It gives a lot of exposure around the world.

Don't forget there is also Anna Karenina and the new Neumeier ballet this season.

#4 Mary

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Posted 11 August 2004 - 01:30 PM

Dear jorgen ( nice to meet you ) :-)
in what sense do you mean the company will be alert because of 8 shows in the festival?

i think the general attitude in the company is this season is a year wasted. Only a few principals dance in every bournonville ballet, and given the importance andersen have given this event he is not going to cast it interestingly or let new people have their debut. it is going to be a year where everybody does in 8 shows what they have been doing for 8 years (or more ) and then thats it.

Also it is an interesting fact that andersen not only presented this seasons repertoire to the company, but also next season- so they have something to look forward to... i wonder what he really thinks of the danish mr.B...

#5 Mel Johnson

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Posted 12 August 2004 - 03:49 AM

I think that things have to be taken from a larger view, a "Big Picture" based on information from outside of Denmark as well as domestic consumption. If the Royal Danish direction is to take its rightful place among the top companies in the world, then it need not work very hard, as, in world opinion, it's already in the top tenth of all companies. Bournonville has, and has held, a respect worldwide for its excellent dancers and unique repertoire. Even in Lev Ivanov's original choreography for The Nutcracker, the Marzipan Shepherdesses were dancing a pastiche of Bournonville vocabulary, so the respect goes well back over a century. Every time the company tours America, there's a re-explosion of interest in Bournonville, his choreography, and the Danish way of dancing. Unfortunately, the three most influential Danes in spreading the Good Word to the wider audience, Hans Brenaa, Erik Bruhn, and Stanley Williams, are gone. Peter Martins isn't even in the same galaxy with them.

#6 jorgen

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Posted 12 August 2004 - 04:06 AM

Mary, with alert I meant I asumed everybody wants to show Bournonville and the company at it's very best at the festival. Something extra for the dancers to look forward to. Exciting debuts can wait until after the festival I think.

What is the content of next season's repertoire? I wouldn't mind a Petipa classic. Or some Frederick Ashton.

#7 Mary

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Posted 12 August 2004 - 05:07 AM

i dont think that a bournonville festival is something the dancers is looking very much forward to. the festival is the directions way of presenting the company to the world, and there is nothing wrong with that at all, they need to do that.

lets say you are an up and coming dancer, and this whole year you will have to wait to get on with your already very short career, how would that make you feel? dancers need to be nourished at all times to grow, it doesnt happen sitting at a table during Kermessen or Livjĉgerne.

and to finish the picture there are very few inspirering people around who can do the job of changing everything around for the good. yes there are a few, as usual the names are Hübbe, Jeppesen, Englund. in this same breath i think that Gad might be able to bring something to the scene as an instructor, she is a very clever girl. i think that Hübbe and her together might achieve better than what is going on these days. Then again, it doesnt take a lot.

This is to Mel, nice to meet you.
I agree with most of what you say, but i cannot bring it to myself to compare companies, i dont understand what kind of thinking it takes to bring it this far. all the big and famous companies have their individual forces. And yes bournonville did create a style interesting enough for the future. but in my view dance has evolved immensely since and so has the bournonvillestyle. when you see old footage from earliar eras one is hardly able to understand that this is the base for the proud tradition. There has always been a natural way things evolved on kgs nytorv in good times as in bad times because the steps stays the same more or less now, because of Hans Beck, Kirsten Ralov etc etc. but what we are seing today is a stagnation of the style, it is not really going anywhere anymore. Casting is often a matter of taste, but then we are many here who have a different taste than andersen, so i wont go to lengths on that subject just now.
But the way things are kept....the bournonville classes, most of the shows. At least with Ralov things worked, clean and serene. i should stop going on about this, the stage direction, but it is what initially made me join here. it makes me angry that i dont want to go see napoli, folkesagn and others because i am upset with the way they are staged.

all for now

Edited by Mary, 12 August 2004 - 10:48 PM.


#8 Mel Johnson

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Posted 13 August 2004 - 03:42 AM

Dear Mary,

I agree with you that the Danish Ballet today is in danger of "homogenization" into the "International" style of ballet, which would make it just another company. After all, the Volkova additions or reforms of the 1950s were supposed to supplement Bournonville technique and not replace it or become blended with it. Time does, though, do what time likes, and what makes the RDB distinctive is threatened by the dulls. In my opinion, the company needs someone who was deeply and thoroughly trained in the Bournonville tradition as balletmaster, and a first instructor who will run a curriculum for training that develops both the Bournonville and International technique in parallel. Further the Office of the Theater Chief and the Ministry have to support the ballet more fully as part of the national treasure of Denmark. Danes, and more particularly the Royal Danish Ballet, have lots of friends in America, and we want to see our favorite company in better shape, too! :)

#9 Mary

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Posted 13 August 2004 - 11:02 PM

i dont think you will find any other company with more financial support from the gouvernment.

i am not sure that there is a "danger" for the dancers in the company, there are so many good dancers there who are pure and true to the style, danish dancers think a lot of what they are doing so a lot of homework is done in the work on a role.

sometimes we can be very critical here saying i dont like him i dont like her, but in most cases it is not the dancers fault because dancers do not cast themselves, dancers cannot chose who to work with or what costumes to wear. they are just pawns in this game, we have to look further behind the stage curtains to find the real problems. Talent wil always emmerge, it is what is being done with this talent which is important. i wish they had better guidance. there is a crucial lack of proffesionalism in the administration. to be honest i am not sure there is not one left in the administration who could get their same position elsewhere.

to bring Volkova into this would be good, but there is hardly no one left who is using her technique so it would be pointless. unfortunatly

#10 Mel Johnson

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Posted 14 August 2004 - 04:16 AM

I'm not exactly sure that it's a matter of money. It's a matter of emotional and personal commitment to ballet. You can throw money at anything and hope for the best, but if you don't know and love what you're doing, then it's a pretty fruitless exercise. The is a tendency for some people to think that "if you can manage one thing, then you can manage another." (Like building autos, and then using the same methods to manage, say, a hospital. :blushing: ) Another flaw in modern management urban legend is that "public institutions should be run like private enterprise." Preposterous.

I was using Volkova mostly as a metonym for the techniques of the wider world, and not merely Vaganova. It would be very difficult for a Swan Lake to be produced with dancers who only danced in the Bournonville method and style. It would look very peculiar anyway.

(PS. I'm trying to agree with you here)

#11 Mary

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Posted 15 August 2004 - 01:23 AM

:blushing: i am agreeing with you as well, there are so many aspects to this discussion and i find it difficult where to begin and where to end, what matter should have biggest priority. so at the end we come with different arguments but with the same understanding of the problem and thus a dialouge is born, i love it

#12 Alexandra

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Posted 15 August 2004 - 09:03 AM

Addressing the question posed in the title of the thread, "does he sell?" I think this is a big problem for the RDB. It's part of what Edward Brandes wrote about in his famous piece about Bournonville being a huge marble monument now located in the middle of a heavily traveled road: it's in the way but it's too good to destroy.

Copenhagen is a small city in which a world-class choreographer worked. This does give the company a burden. When I was there in 2000 for Bournonville Week, one of the dancers (not especially a Bournonville fan) said to me that the dancers knew that Bournonville was important because "without him we'd be just another mediocre European ballet company." But one suspects that many of the dancers and fans would be much happier with a "mediocre European ballet company" that doesn't have a heritage, that could simply follow trends, lots of Kylian-style pieces (no hierarchy, all dancers are alike, no individuality, no bothersome difficult solos, no worry about classical technique).

AND the audience, any hometown audience, doesn't want to see the same ballets year after year, especially in a down period where there aren't Really Big Stars. During the high water marks of the Danish ballet -- the Beck years, the 1960s, when there were huge personalities -- the company could give many performances of La Sylphide -- and Miss Julie and Carmen -- and the audience was happy to see them over and over, because the performances were so exciting. But otherwise, there's a "Oh, Sylphide. We can always see that next year." Or the next, or the next. Perhaps one comes to see a guest star, and a debut, but otherwise...... Jorgen, I was very glad to read that you were looking forward to it! I hope there are enough true dance people there, who are looking forward to seeing this generation of dancers in these roles. And Martin, I agree that what goes on behind the curtain is very important, and this isn't one of the great eras of Bournonville stagings!

What the dancers also say is that Bournonville is the "well," as Nikolaj Hubbe once put it, to which they return. It's the touchstone. The repertory imposes standards -- technical standards. Yes, many of the dancers are used to create an atmosphere (and I'd be more sympathetic to their complaints that they don't have enough to do if they were world-class technicians, ready for any challenge). But the solo dances still challenge everybody -- the poor dancers just sitting around, and dancers from other companies and other worlds.

The Festival isn't about selling tickets, though. It's about international recognition.

#13 Mel Johnson

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Posted 15 August 2004 - 04:29 PM

:)  so at the end we come with different arguments but with the same understanding of the problem and thus a dialouge is born, i love it

That is what I find so appealing about this kind of discussion. You are in Denmark, and I in New York State, but we both love the Royal Danish Ballet, and want the best for it. :)


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