Jane Simpson

Merrill Ashley to dance Madge

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The RDB has just announced that Merrill Ashley will dance Madge in two performances of La Sylphide during the run which opens on Jan. 7th. She has been in Copenhagen to stage Symphony in C, which is on the same bill.

Also announced are two new James - Ulrik Birkkjaer and Marcin Kupinski - and a new Sylph, Susanne Grinder.

Details here for readers of Danish with or without Google translate

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Ashley has done Madge before - with Boston Ballet in a production staged by Sorella Englund. Her Madge is very striking and bleak; I was impressed.

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The dates for Merrill Ashley's Madges have now been announced: February 20 and 24.

The Syphide/Symphony in C run opens tonight with Grinder and Birkkjaer as the Sylph and James; lots more debuts tomorrow - Kupinski as James, Christopher Rickert as Gurn, Louise Oestergaard as Effy and (I think it's a debut) Hilary Guswiler as the 'first Sylph'. (Christina Michanek is the Sylph)

Some very interesting debuts in Symphony in C tomorrow, as well - particularly Alexandra lo Sardo, lately of the Dresden company, in the second movement; also J'aime Crandall and Julien Roman in the 3rd movement and Lena Maria Gruber in the 4th - her first big role, I guess. (Lo Sardo is by no means tall and that reminds me that Alina Cojocaru's website says that she will be dancing 2nd movement for the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden in the spring.)

There are just these two performances now, then a gap whilst the company tours Giselle to seven locations round Denmark, then 6 more Sylphides starting in mid-February. Presumably we'll then see at least one of the more established casts.

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Eva Kistrup's review of the new casts is now up in DanceView Times. She's quite critical of some of the performances and of Hubbe's casting policy and judging from what I've read, she's not alone.

The star of both the evenings seems to have been Gudrun Bojesen in Symphony in C (Alexandra lo Sardo didn't appear in the end) - but I do hope she'll be taking time out from that to dance the Sylph herself next month.

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Merrill Ashley danced her first Madge in Copenhagen a couple of days ago, and Eva Kistrup reports on it in Dance View Times.

Sounds good:

Merrill Ashley proved herself to be a character dancer of excellence with a strong grip on the Bournonville style.

I'll be seeing her myself later this week and am looking forward to it - though I hope I'll maybe get a stronger cast in the rest of the programme!

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I saw Merrill Ashley last night and absolutely agree with Eva: she fits into the production very well and her interpretation is strong whilst avoiding the grotesque. I wonder if she's adapted her previous version ata ll for Copenhagen? I guess if she originally learnt it for a Sorella Englund production, she won't have needed to change much.

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