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Dutch National Ballet 2005-06 Season

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#16 bart


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Posted 21 May 2006 - 08:47 AM

Yes! I'm with Alexandra. There's interest in, and affection for, this company here, partlly due to the availability of its work on video. Not to mention the Sofiane Sylve connection, one of a number of links between Amsterdam and New York (formerly Nieuw Amsterdam) over the centuries. :bow:

#17 Herman Stevens

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 06:55 AM

By the way, if no one else is posting here, is it okay if I post my notes on Swan Lake and the Masterclass?

Hi Mimi,

please by all means do.

I have been terribly busy writing a book, which is why I hadn't spotted your posts before.

Unlike previous times I have only been at one Swan Lake night, with Sofiane Sylve and guest soloist Inaki Urlezaga. I have to say I was not quite bowled over on that particular night. It was interesting to see that Sofiane's interpretation had softened and become more idiomatic compared to the previous round of DNB Lakes. (It was also interesting to notice that S.S. has returned as a full member of the Dutch company, in addition to being a NYCB principal.)

As I'm writing I distinctly recall being overwhelmed by the fierce beauty of Swan Lake as the orchestra was revving up in the Overture - incredible: you're two minutes in and everything outside the musical drama is wiped out. It took till the Black Swan adagio variation to get close to this degree of involvement again, I have to confess. It may just have been me.

However I spent all night wondering about the reason why either S.S. or the company invited Urlezaga over as Sofiane's partner. Their chemistry was well below zero. All by himself, in Act I, I.U. was dead in the water, too, as far as I could tell. Admittedly the partners Sofiane used to have in previous Lake runs have moved to other companies, but I could name one or two men within the company who would have done better than I.U. on the night I saw.

Corps work wasn't too hoppin' either. I'm quite ready to call it an off-night, but anyway it kept me from going to another show / cast this time around. I would have loved to see Anu Viherianta's debut as Odette / Odile in the Rudy van Dantzig version (her Nutcracker & Mouse King was fabulous, as I mentioned on the previous page), but her only outing is at an impossibly remote stop of the Lac tour (thanks a buncha, guys!).

So please tell us about the night you saw Swan Lake, Mimi.

#18 Mimi



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Posted 31 May 2006 - 02:57 PM

^^^ :speechless-smiley-003:

See, THIS is why I was waiting for regular Ballet Talkers to post first...!
I am not that experienced in watching ballet, and therefore have less insight in everything. I still tend to experience a ballet as something magical...

But I read this in one of the introductionary topics on the BT for D forum:

It's ok to say “Wow, that really big jump the main guy did was awesome!”


So on that notion, here's my two cents...

#19 Mimi



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Posted 31 May 2006 - 03:22 PM

I saw Swan Lake twice:


On Tuesday March 22, I saw the dress rehearsal, at which Yumiko Takeshima and Tamás Nagy were dancing Odette/Odile and Siegfried. It was the first time I saw Swan Lake (in any choreography or cast!) so I can't really say anything about their interpretations: I was still very much watching 'what was happening' rather than 'how they were doing it'.

What did strike me anyway though, was the huge emotional weight Félipe Diaz managed to give to the role of Siegfried's best friend Alexander.
(I understood that in other versions this friend is called Benno?)

For those of you who are not familiar with the HNB version of Swan Lake: this version is not so much about Odette, but about Siegfried.
About him eventually giving in to temptation, failing to be true to his ideals...

In the end Siegfried drowns, and Alexander finds Siegfried's dead body.
He carries him to the middle of the stage, lays him down there, and finally kneels by him, grieving...

There was so much tenderness, so much care in the way Félipe Diaz' Alexander carried his deceased friend...
Such intense sadness...
It was instantly felt how incredibly dear Siegfried was to him, how pure his desolation was...

Really powerful!


The second time I saw Swan Lake was on Sunday March 26th.
Ruta Jezerskyte and Altin Alexandros Kaftira were dancing Odette/Odile and Siegfried.
I am SO thankful I got to see this cast, especially because I just love the way mr. Kaftira can really bring roles like Siegfried to life, and really makes you feel involved in the story!

One minor point of criticism though: I think I would have preferred it if he would have held back *just a little bit* in the beginning.
Of course he had to communicate that the empty pleasures of the court life couldn't fulfill Siegfried, but I guess the problem with that part of the choreography is that with even a slightly overdramatic approach, Siegfried easily turns from an idealistic young man searching for meaning, to merely a pouting boy.
However the nano-second this bothered me was amply compensated for by the rest of the performance!
Besides I am most likely the only person who has had this thought, so it's probably my bad, rather than mr. Kaftira's.

I was also really happy to see Mathieu Gremillet as Alexander.

I just always like to see him, because he makes such a direct connection with the audience.

In the cast I saw with the dress rehearsal he was in the pas de six by the way.
From what I understood, they employ nearly the entire company in each performance for shows like Swan Lake, making it really intense working for the dancers. Not to mention touring the Netherlands, and having to stay over in the remotest places!
I hope their rehearsal schedule for the Van Manen show leaves them a little breathing space, to repair wrecked sleeping patterns and such!
(Though of course some might argue a hotel accomodation actually provides better sleeping circumstances, depending on the normal situation...)


I will later post my notes on the wonderful Swan Lake Masterclass Guillaume Graffin taught to Boris de Leeuw and Asta Bazeviciute.
For now I have studying to do... :speechless-smiley-003:

But on a side note: I never really understood why Odette and Odile are both danced by one person, especially because it's said to be such a physically demanding role! Is this simply traditional, because some smaller companies would not have that many principals capable of performing the role, or is there another reason?
Maybe a more experienced Ballet Talker can shed a light on this?

#20 bart


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Posted 31 May 2006 - 11:30 PM

Thanks, mimi, for those wonderful insights. This is a company that deserves more attention, IMO.

I can imagine how difficult it is for a company of this size to do a full productdion of SW. Resources are indeed streched. A number of US companies have the same problem.

I hope other more serious SW watchers will address your point about Odette-Odile. My own though was: are there ANY companies nowadays who divide the role between 2 dancers, except in the case of injury? Wasn't this once much more commom?

Looking forward to your thoughts about the Graffin master class. :speechless-smiley-003:

#21 Herman Stevens

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 09:22 AM

Thanks for your great report on Lake o' Swan, Michelle!

I'm pretty sure HNB's male dancers have been lighting thank-you-dear candles for you, if not sending you bouquets straight away. You have seen two Swan Lakes and it looks like you've only been paying attention to the guys.

It's true Rudy van Dantzig gives some additional depth to the Siegfried character in the slow variation in Act I, and the image at the end when Benno (or Alexander, what's the diff?) carries the drowned prince downstage is striking. However as far as I'm concerned this is a really classical, traditional version of Swan Lake, and I admire Van Dantzig for doing just that, back in the eighties. In other words, there's plenty of Odette / Odile action. The reason why Odette and Odile are performed by one single dancer is that it's more challenging that way, and in classical ballet it's all about meetingthose challenges. Every dancer I have ever spoken to about Lake o' Swan has mentioned this.

Unfortunately I was unable to see Ruta Jezerskyte's / Altin Kaftira's Swan Lake. I love both dancers. Ruta is a true classical ballerina, and the wonderful thing about her is she's also one of the company's top contemporary dancers getting plum roles from Krystof Pastor and David Dawson. (The other wonderful thing about her is she's really a sweetheart.) Sight unseen I could imagine Altin seemed a little over the top in Act I, because the only other Siegfried you had ever seen before was Tamas Nagy, who is very noble and restrained, usually.

Like everybody else I'm really curious about the masterclass you sat in on.

#22 Mimi



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Posted 02 June 2006 - 10:41 AM

Hahaha, yes, reading back I also noticed I seem to have forgotten about the girls...! :)

I think this is part coincidence (like I said Félipe Diaz' performance just "hit me" in the first show, and with the second show I more or less went there to see mr. Kaftira dance!), but I think I also have more trouble comparing the girls to eachother. I'm not really sure why, perhaps it's simply because there are more of them, or perhaps I'm just not paying enough attention because I'm a little too eager to tell the world that ballet is not just about "girls in tutus"...

Actually, I think it's mainly the latter.

Sight unseen I could imagine Altin seemed a little over the top in Act I, because the only other Siegfried you had ever seen before was Tamas Nagy, who is very noble and restrained, usually.

This sounds like a very reasonable hypothesis, but I think you are forgetting that my way of watching and seeing a ballet is no where near as evolved as yours. Much more than comparing interpretations, I'm just trying to figure out what is going on on stage! :D
For the second I was talking about, I just felt a feeling of nuisance with prince Siegfried: "Oh COME ON, WHAT are you POUTING about???!".
It was not like "Hmmm, this prince appears to be more outspoken in his apprehension than the prince I saw some days ago.".
I really don't think Tamás Nagy's performance had anything to with it.

Well enough about this. Let's not forget it was just a nano-second of a full-length ballet, and probably nothing but a random thought of mine anyway!

(The other wonderful thing about her is she's really a sweetheart.)

I believe you immediately!
But is this to say she is sweeter than the other girls in the company?
Because -from the dancers I have met so far- I think the company harbours a number of angels...! :)

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