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Bournonville films in London


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#1 Jane Simpson

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Posted 25 June 2005 - 09:36 AM

Thanks once more to Jane Pritchard, the National Film Theatre is showing another season of ballet films in August - this time of Bournonville. The details aren't on the NFT site yet - I'll post the link when they appear - but there are some exciting things in it, including Margethe Schanne in La Sylphide, and an extract from Act 3 of Napoli which I hope is the one with Kronstam, Schanne, Inge Sand, Stanley Williams etc etc.

#2 Alexandra

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Posted 25 June 2005 - 12:58 PM

There may be two of them (or more) but the one Schanne "Sylphide" film that I know is her farewell performance (with Flemming Flindt as James and Niels Kehlet and Jorn Madsen dancing the first act solos -- they weren't danced by Gurn and James originally). It's a fascinating performance. Nobody jumps like Schanne did today. There are so many Napolis I don't know what you'll get. The one I hope you'll see is the 1977 "Folk Tale" with Kronstam, Sorella Englund (Hilda) and Vivi Flindt (Birthe). It's quite different from the current production :(

#3 Jane Simpson

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Posted 25 June 2005 - 01:05 PM

It's certainly Flindt in La Sylphide with Schanne, and it's from 1966 - would that be right? No Folk Tale, I'm afraid.

#4 Alexandra

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Posted 25 June 2005 - 01:10 PM

Yes, that's the one. Too bad about "Folk Tale" (although, Heaven knows, some who know only the current production may well look at this one and be disappointed. The new one is so much more lively. The old one isn't a kiddie ballet.)

Most of the Bournonville ballets -- even the Far From Denmark and Kermesse -- were televised in the 1980s, and there is some footage back to the first group that visited Jacob's Pillow in 1950. I'm always suffering Bournonville withdrawal, and so I'm jealous. :(

#5 Jane Simpson

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Posted 26 June 2005 - 01:01 PM

Someone on ballet.co confirmed that the Napoli is from a gala performance given in honour of our Queen on a state visit in 1957. The cast was:

Borge Ralov (Gennaro), Mona Vangsaae (Teresina)

Ruth Andersen, Kirsten Ralov, Inge Sand, Margrethe Schanne, Vivi Thorberg, Fredbjorn Bjornssen, Henning Kronstam, Kjeld Noack, Stanley Williams

The extract starts with the third male solo (Kronstam) followed by the pas de six and Tarantella.

Has anyone seen this? It sounds unmissable although the quality is apparently not perfect.

#6 Alexandra

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Posted 26 June 2005 - 01:43 PM

No! Sob! Odd that they're starting with the 3rd solo -- before the pas de six? This is one I'd like to see all the solodancers (except Noack -- I don't think of him as a virtuoso). Regarding that third solo, there was an article in one of the Danish papers that when Kronstam first did that solo in rehearsal the dancers all burst into cheers, so I always wanted to see it! I'd like to see Sand (the Swanhilda) and Schanne (the Sylph) and Ruth Andersen (very musical) too. It's an incredible cast -- the way Napoli used to be cast, I can't help but say :) And the tarantella in the '50s was really wild. I'm really jealous. I'll try not to hate all of you!

#7 Jane Simpson

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Posted 04 August 2005 - 11:41 AM

I've just come back from seeing the Napoli film and it is WONDERFUL - pure gold!
The only thing I wished is that we could have seen it again straight away.

It starts right in, with no introduction, into Henning Kronstam's solo - he was about 22 I think, and I would hardly have recognised him. The presenter, Richard Dimbleby TALKS all the way through - I think he was setting the scene and explaining what was happening but I managed to ignore most of it. Then there were the women's solos - I recognised Mona Vangsaae and Inge Sand. then the end of the pas de six, the Tarantella (Margrethe Schanne and Kronstam doing the bit with the scarf!), and right on to the end of the ballet. then one curtain call, and the Danish national anthem, showing King Frederick and Queen Ingrid in the Royal Box with Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh. (QE2, with tiara, only just comes up to the King's shoulder.)

Overall, just like with films of the British RB from that time, the technique isn't nearly as tidy and refined as you see today, but there is so much life and spirit in it! It was also much faster than they do it today, I think, and so exciting.

But the STAR, the STAR, was Borge Ralov. Can it be right that he was 49 at the time? We didn't see enough of him to see how much technique was left, but the style, the charm - what a scene-stealer!

It's being shown again on the afternoon of Aug 20th - if you care about Bournonville, be there! (And the preceding performance of the whole ballet by Scottish Ballet is very nice, too.)

#8 Alexandra

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Posted 04 August 2005 - 03:11 PM

Yes, Ralov was THE star then. He got a full page photo in the 1953 souvenir program, and the other solodancers got half pages. He was the first First Solodancer among the men. His great roles were Gennaro, Harlequin and Petrouchka -- and Albrecht.

#9 liebs

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Posted 04 August 2005 - 03:40 PM

Jane, Alexandra, thanks for the info. We are going to be in London and will have a chance to see La Sylphide.

Alexandra after your course last summer, Rachel is a Bournonville fan.

#10 Jane Simpson

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Posted 08 August 2005 - 06:57 AM

Unfortunately the NFT has been unable to obtain the rights to show the Schanne Sylphide, or either of the other two Danish productions (Far from Denmark and La Ventana) which were originally scheduled. Details of replacement programmes
are at:


http://www.bfi.org.u...ille/titles.php

#11 Alexandra

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Posted 08 August 2005 - 08:42 AM

I'm sorry for the change, but if it's any consolation, I've seen the first act of the Schanne "La Sylphide," and the production itself was not in good shape then. Schanne looks like something out of a child's storybook. Big head, big crown, big wings, armour-underwear. But what everyone says was a magnetic stage presence wasn't visible, to me. Flindt is James, and this was the old-old version, where James dances only in the reel. The two solos were extraordinary -- Niels Kehlet, who had the highest jump in the West, if not the world, and Jorn Madsen, a promising young dancer whose career ended early due to injury. But the production itself -- it wasn't directed. They just danced. It was the post-Lander, pre-Brenaa era, when Bournonville was left to fend for himself. It's stop and start, no seamless connection between miming and dancing, no flow.

Liebs, I'm glad Rachel remembers Bournonville fondly. The world cannot have too many Bournonville fans :blink:

Jane, yes, Kronstam would have been 22, and extremely thin. They must have either cut off, or neglected to film, the beginning, since that would mean at least two men's and two women's solos, and some trios, would have been omitted, if they followed the same order. Odd.

#12 Jane Simpson

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 03:39 AM

...and this was the old-old version, where James dances only in the reel.  The two solos were extraordinary -- Niels Kehlet, who had the highest jump in the West, if not the world, and Jorn Madsen, a promising young dancer whose career ended early due to injury.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


When I first saw it, in London in 1974, must have been a transitional period - Jame s did the second solo in Act 1 but the first one wasn't Gurn but another dancer - Arne Willumsen in that case. I'd love to see it sometime in the version where James doesn't dance till the second act - it must be an extraordinary effect when he finally leaps into action. Kehlet actually did James in that season, before he'd danced it in Denmark according to the RDB site. (But it was Ryberg the night I was there.)

Jane, yes, Kronstam would have been 22, and extremely thin.  They must have either cut off, or neglected to film, the beginning, since that would mean at least two men's and two women's solos, and some trios, would have been omitted, if they followed the same order.  Odd.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


It was a live broadcast, I think, so presumably they just started wherever the performance had got to at 10 o'clock or whatever.

#13 Alexandra

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 06:46 AM

I'd love to see it sometime in the version where James doesn't dance till the second act - it must be an extraordinary effect when he finally leaps into action.


I would, too. It was changed, by Flindt, in 1965. I've seen a non-dancing Gurn as late as 1993 -- when Alexander Kolpin was injured (and he was a marvelous Gurn). Kronstam danced both versions, and told me in interviews that during the solos James was walking around the room, greeting each guest and thanking them for their gifts. It doesn't make sense that James would dance, because, by Bournonville rules, the hero cannot dance while the balance of his mind is disturbed, and Kronstam said that "it never felt right" (although he loved doing the solo). And the dramatic point, as you note, of James finally finding flight, when his soul and his body are free, in the forest is lost. But I don't think any force could pry those solos away from the dancers, at this point :angry2:

#14 Jane Simpson

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 01:15 PM

I'd love to see it sometime in the version where James doesn't dance till the second act - it must be an extraordinary effect when he finally leaps into action.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Well, it would be nice if all my balletic wishes were answered so speedily: tonight's films in this series included a performance of La Sylphide by Ballet Rambert televised in 1961, and the two first act solos were danced by two 'village boys' (and at least one of them was in tonight's audeince, I think!). The impact of James's first solo in Act 2 wasn't quite what it might have been in the theatre, but it was very interesting to see it all the same. Of course the other effect is that Gurn doesn't get a solo at all.

The rest of this programme consisted of 2 extracts from Peter Schafuss's production for London Festival Ballet filmed in 1980 - what a contrast! James even has a new solo, just before the Sylph appears at the window - Schaufuss believed this was restoring the original version as danced by Bournonville himself (though the choreography was new, by Schaufuss.) Niels Bjorn Larsen was the witch in this one - fabulous. Star of the Rambert version was Lucette Aldous as the Sylph - James was Flemming Flindt.


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