Jane Simpson

Royal Danish Ballet 2009/2010 season

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The Royal Danish Ballet has just announced its programme for the 2009/10 season.

West Side Story Suite/Dances at a Gathering

Giselle

Napoli - staged by Nikolaj Hubbe and Sorella Englund

Nutcracker

Bournonville and Balanchine: La Sylphide/Symphony in C

Midsummer Night's Dream (Neumeier)

Shakespeare in Motion - Othello (Midjord)/new piece by Pontus Lidberg

M/K Ballerina: Serenade/The Cage/Ashton's Isadora Waltzes/new piece by Kim Brandtsrup

M/K Danseur Noble: new Brandstrup piece/Bournonville variations (from the Bournonville Schools)/A Suite of Dances (Robbins)/Les Gentilhommes (Martins)/The Unsung (Limon)

The last two programmes run quite late in May and into June - M/K is Male/Female

There's also a repeat of Thomas Lund's children's ballet, Kom Bamse, which has played to sold-out houses this season.

I expect there'll be more details, especially of the new Napoli, when the press release appears.

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Interesting . . .

The ballerina/danseur noble programs look very intriguing. Ashton's Five Brahms Waltzes in the Manner of Isadora Duncan? Limon's The Unsung?? I might have to fire up the passport and take myself off to Denmark for this!

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I don't know anything about the Limon piece - please tell!

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Er... I just read a little more about the new Napoli. (Sit down, Alexandra, and take a deep breath...)

It will be set in the 1950s, in the decay and poverty of a Naples controlled by the criminal underworld, and Maja Ravn's cinematic designs will make this an exciting meeting between Fellini and Bournonville.

I wonder what they'll do with Act 2?

(Edited to answer my own question, in part) Act 2 will have choreography by Hubbe and new music by Louise Alenius Boserup.

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this from NYPL dance cat.:

Unsung : Chor: José Limón; danced in silence; cos: Charles D. Tomlinson; lighting: William H. Batchelder. First perf as "work in progress": New York, Juilliard Theater, May 26, 1970, Juilliard Dance Division students.//First perf: Philadelphia, Walnut Theater, Nov 5, 1971.//Perf: New York, Juilliard Theater, Nov 12, 1971, Juilliard Dance Ensemble.

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Er... I just read a little more about the new Napoli. (Sit down, Alexandra, and take a deep breath...)

It will be set in the 1950s, in the decay and poverty of a Naples controlled by the criminal underworld, and Maja Ravn's cinematic designs will make this an exciting meeting between Fellini and Bournonville.

I wonder what they'll do with Act 2?

(Edited to answer my own question, in part) Act 2 will have choreography by Hubbe and new music by Louise Alenius Boserup.

Just the "Napoli" that i'll be avoiding. :)

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It will be set in the 1950s, in the decay and poverty of a Naples controlled by the criminal underworld, and Maja Ravn's cinematic designs will make this an exciting meeting between Fellini and Bournonville.

I wonder what they'll do with Act 2?

(Edited to answer my own question, in part) Act 2 will have choreography by Hubbe and new music by Louise Alenius Boserup.

Please someone tell me that 4th March is the Danish equivalent of April Fools Day.

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Er... I just read a little more about the new Napoli. (Sit down, Alexandra, and take a deep breath...)

It will be set in the 1950s, in the decay and poverty of a Naples controlled by the criminal underworld, and Maja Ravn's cinematic designs will make this an exciting meeting between Fellini and Bournonville.

I wonder what they'll do with Act 2?

(Edited to answer my own question, in part) Act 2 will have choreography by Hubbe and new music by Louise Alenius Boserup.

The Barbarians are at the gate in Copenhagen, they have already entered London, whose next?

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In the light of this, it's interesting to read Hubbe's comments on the challenges he will face as the new Director. The following is from Ellen Bar's interview in the Winter 2008-09 Ballet Review:

Authenticity is something that Nikolaj has been thinking a lot about lately as he prepares for the next phase of his career, the directorship of the Royal Danish Ballet. European audiences, Nikolau says, are reserved, but "if it smells a little of avant-garde, the flip over it. I'm not putting it down, but they want to feel progressive, even if somethings it's 'The Emperor's New Clothes'."

And

[ ... Talking to Nikolaj it becomes clear that, far from rejecting his roots, he has too much respect for them to take the challenge on lightly. He is still working out how to breathe new life into the works without destroying them in the name of contekmporization. "How far do you go?" he muses, "Do you break the frameowrk just to break it? Or do you go into the process of working with Bournonville and his stories and all of a sudden it is inevitable to you that you have to break some of his principles because it's the only way you could conceive to go? the most important thing is, where is it coming from? Is it genuine?

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Oh Jane, I am a wealth of useless information when it comes to Jose Limon! :clapping:

As rg noted, Limon created The Unsung in 1970-71 as part of a final outpouring of creativity before he died at the age of 64 in 1972. Although it premiered under the Juilliard banner, The Unsung was for all intents and purposes a Jose Limon Dance Company work as most of the student dancers who performed it in 1970-71 went on to join his company before his death. The work has never been long out of the Limon Dance Company's repertory since its creation.

The concept behind The Unsung is that a number of Native American chieftains (portrayed by male dancers) gather to perform what I take to be a Native American "ghost dance". The dancers gather in the beginning and then each dancer performs a variation before the group coalesces at the end. The original version had eight dancers performing eight variations but the Limon company mostly performs it now in versions with six or seven dancers. (They've also performed it with an all-female cast.)

Limon created The Unsung as a tribute to Native Americans but he also created it as a way to show off all of the really stellar male dancers he had in his orbit at that time. It follows other all-male dances in his repertory such as The Traitor (1954) and The Emperor Jones (1956).

While my description of The Unsung implies that it is a narrative work, this isn't exactly true. There is the basic scenario (the ghost dance) but no real narrative. So, even if the scenario doesn't appeal to you, you can watch it abstractly for the beauty of the variations and for the way Limon incorporated Native American movement themes into the Limon technique.

I would disagree with the New York Public Library's characterization of The Unsung as being "performed in silence." A more accurate description would be that, while there is no music, there is a "soundtrack" of sorts. The dancers create their own vivid accompaniment by slamming their feet to the floor, stepping in unison, and pounding their (bare) chests with their hands and arms.

The original costumes for The Unsung were black practice tights but the Limon company's revised production now utilizes fantastic tightly-fitted pants that look like buckskin pants.

All in all, I would say this is an adventurous choice on the part of Nikolaj Hubbe. I don't know how the absence of music will play with the Danish audience or how The Unsung will look on a big opera house stage. (I saw it in a very small theater at the Kaatsbaan Dance Center [north of New York City on the West Bank of the Hudson River] and it looked great there.) Still, if Hubbe's point is to show off his male dancers then this is a fine choice because it really calls for the kind of bold, virile dancing that only men can do.

I hope this helps!

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Thank you for that, miliosr. It certainly sounds as if it fits with what Hubbe is trying to do: apparently he said at the press conference that "there is too much unisex and fitness/body culture in classical ballet" (yes!), and these two Ballerina/Danseur Noble programmes are to re-focus the audience's ideas of the role of men and women in ballet.

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He's certainly going for variety and range of images of men and women in ballet.

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