Jump to content


RDB American Tour 2011


  • Please log in to reply
135 replies to this topic

#91 Natalia

Natalia

    Rubies Circle

  • Foreign Correspondent
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,396 posts

Posted 08 June 2011 - 02:40 AM

Last night's opening of the Kennedy Center/Wash, DC leg of the tour (A Folk Tale) was attended by Queen Margrethe. The new production has its visually-stunning moments. It is very, very different from the past 3 productions, all of which I've seen. A lot of the Bournonville dancing/miming has been cut and, in its place, new 'globalization-style' choreography by Nikolai Hubbe and his associates substituted. More importantly, and personally very disappointing to me, the important element of Christianity -- so central to the story -- has been wiped away by Hubbe. [I wonder if he would also remove the Islamic elements from [i]Abdallah[/i]?]

Despite a stunning Act III Pas de Sept with some incredible solos (esp. Diana Cuni), one couldn't help but notice the very weak Bournonville technique and bland acting of the leading lady, Suzanne Grinder, as Hilda. (Her long-limbed non-Bournonvillean proportions alone killed the Bournonville choreography, but the delivery was equally bad.) Marcin Kupinsky certainly is handsome as Junker Ove but his dancing -- because this Ove dances A LOT -- is not particularly distinguished. And his acting is pathetic...that one 'dumbstruck' face! Many previous little gems of this ballet, such as the interchange among party-goers in Act I or the mimed episode of the maids at Birthe's toilette in Act III, are not well ennunciated, now coming across as weak tea. The monster guests in Act II still seem as Disney-esque, albeit not in as bright and cutesy a manner as in the immediate-past production designed by Queen Margrethe.

Besides the glorious Pas de Sept dancers, the day was saved by Lis Jeppesen's always-brilliant rendition of the 'kind' troll Viderik and by the fierce acting and mock-Balanchinean dancing of the run's Birthe, Alba Nadal (substituting the pre-announced Kizzy Matiakis)...but why-the-heck did Hubbe et al have to choreograph the character Birthe into the Pas de Sept? Totally idiotic, playing for cheap laughs at moments when she disrupts the classical ensemble (breaking-through of the final pose of the 7, for ex). Maybe it was Hubbe's twisted way telling us that he's intent on killing the past and old ways...by breaking the beauty of the 7 classical dancers?

I wish that the Royal Danish Ballet would revert to the ca-1980 production that first played at the Kennedy Center, the one that starred TRUE Bournonvilleans Mette-Ida Kirk or Lis Jeppesen as Hilda and Ib Andersen as Junker Ove. That one was PERFECT!

All in all, a mild disappointment. Hopefully Napoli will provide a more felicitious experience.

#92 Mashinka

Mashinka

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,181 posts

Posted 08 June 2011 - 07:15 AM

I'm so pleased you singled out Diana Cuni for praise Natalia, she is stunning in everything she does but in Bournonville she reigns supreme in my view. Lis Jeppesen's Viderick is adorable, I'm pleased she still dances the role.

The Christian element is very important to the story: faith overcoming the machinations of the supernatural and providing comfort for Hilda. This is a serious omission in my view. And I'm horrified that they've altered the Act III pas de sept, it was as close to perfect as choreography gets.

#93 Natalia

Natalia

    Rubies Circle

  • Foreign Correspondent
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,396 posts

Posted 08 June 2011 - 07:43 AM

....The Christian element is very important to the story: faith overcoming the machinations of the supernatural and providing comfort for Hilda. This is a serious omission in my view. ...


It's important in many Bournonville ballets. So I'm bracing myself for changes in Napoli, i.e., will Teresina still clasp her Santa Lucia medallion to fend-off Golfo the Monster in the Blue Grotto scene...as a famous church hymn plays in the background? (I wouldn't be surprised if Hubbe has 'killed' the hymn altogether, substituting a secular tune.) Will there be a priest officiating at the wedding at the start of Act III? The good news is that I'm scheduled to see Amy Watson dance Teresina -- a dancer with excellent technique and the right proportions and look for a Bournonville heroine. I'm also looking forward to Alexander Staeger's Gennaro, as Staeger was another impressive member of last night's Pas de Sept crew. Accentuate the positives.

#94 Jane Simpson

Jane Simpson

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 941 posts

Posted 08 June 2011 - 08:20 AM

It's important in many Bournonville ballets. So I'm bracing myself for changes in Napoli, i.e., will Teresina still clasp her Santa Lucia medallion to fend-off Golfo the Monster in the Blue Grotto scene...as a famous church hymn plays in the background? (I wouldn't be surprised if Hubbe has 'killed' the hymn altogether, substituting a secular tune.)


Natalia, the whole of the second act is new, including the music - and no, Teresina doesn't have a sacred medallion. If you want to prepare yourself for the changes, there's a lot about the production on this thread - but maybe you prefer to come new to it!

#95 Natalia

Natalia

    Rubies Circle

  • Foreign Correspondent
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,396 posts

Posted 08 June 2011 - 08:45 AM

I'll go into Napoli with a fresh mind, as I did for Folk Tale but thanks nonetheless, Jane. It doesn't surprise me after what I saw yesterday with Folk Tale. Sigh.

#96 Natalia

Natalia

    Rubies Circle

  • Foreign Correspondent
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,396 posts

Posted 09 June 2011 - 01:00 PM

Nobody else from Ballet Alert has attended Folk Tale at the Kennedy Center? I'd love to read a report or two on the 2nd cast. (hint-hint)

I also have a ticket for tomorrow night's opening Napoli ...but that's it. Thanks to the lousy economy, I now attend only one performance of each full-evening ballet(although I broke my rule and saw two Cuban Don Qs last week).

#97 Natalia

Natalia

    Rubies Circle

  • Foreign Correspondent
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,396 posts

Posted 11 June 2011 - 09:22 AM

Went to last night's Napoli opener, starring Amy Watson and Alexander Staeger. Nutshell: I loved it! Specifically, I loved each act...as a separate ballet. A funky-50s-Felliniesque Act I, a 'Euro-Pseudo-Balanchinean' Act II to weird tinkly music, and an 1800's-looking Act III just as in the old traditional productions -- kids on the bridge and all -- with the exception of (1) the older women sitting on the sidelines in short dresses and (2) the floral cart replaced by a yellow motor scooter at the very end. Three totally different ballets. ODD but individually, delightful.

Fabulous leads - Watson and Staeger have absolutely perfect bodies (not too long of limb), faces (that project like sunbeams), and technique for Bournonville. They were lovely in both the traditional Bournonville choreography and in two brand-new pas de deux in Acts I and III, in the old style, thus completely acceptable. Jean-Lucien Massot was perfectly scary and 'macho' as Golfo in the tinkly underwater act. On the other hand, with the exception of veteran Gudrun Bojesen, the ladies of the Act III Pas de Six were rushed and unclear in their solos (Misses Crandall, Gruber & LoSardo); only Bojesen seemed relaxed and unrushed,allowing us to savor every step clearly...and was the only one to consistently hold her arms properly. Nikolai Hansen was wonderful in his solo (the one with the gnd plies)...but it was Gregory Dean who blew the roof off the house in the zippy final male solo of the Pas de Six with quick high leaps. WOW! [The initial male solo - the one so brilliantly rendered by Thomas Lund in recent years - was adequately danced by Alban Lendorf. Lendorf was the 'lone man' who did not dance in the Pas de Six ensemble portions.]

Lund was here too, in the mimed cameo role of the street singer in Act I, now a 'Drag Queen' in a golden dress & flaming-red wig, a tad too over-the-top and not funny after the first 15 seconds. In the old Bournonville version, this was a male opera singer...and far funnier.

Glorious finale, with seemingly "hundreds' on the stage, confetti thrown from the bridge, and an instant-standing-o from the happy audience.

p.s. Hubbe did not totally banish Christianity from this 2009 production, as he did with this year's Folk Tale. Acts I & III both had the little icon-shrines to the Madonna and religious characters...but the story-line was less religious, due to the changed Act II.

#98 dirac

dirac

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 25,214 posts

Posted 11 June 2011 - 03:21 PM

I'm so pleased you singled out Diana Cuni for praise Natalia, she is stunning in everything she does but in Bournonville she reigns supreme in my view. Lis Jeppesen's Viderick is adorable, I'm pleased she still dances the role.

The Christian element is very important to the story: faith overcoming the machinations of the supernatural and providing comfort for Hilda. This is a serious omission in my view. And I'm horrified that they've altered the Act III pas de sept, it was as close to perfect as choreography gets.


The "Christian element" bugs Alastair Macaulay, too, and he's glad to be shot of it:

Though Bournonville regarded this as his most perfect ballet, Mr. Hübbe has had the courage to change the most problematic aspect of it for many modern viewers: its reliance on holy water in Act III as the agent that restores the hero, Junker Ove, to life and sanity. In Mr. Hübbe’s production Hilda’s human charity and dance grace do the trick that holy water used to. This succeeds, beautifully.


If Ove was rescued by a fairy waving a magic wand, would Macaulay be bothered by that? How does stripping an overtly Christian story of its Christian elements help the work?

Sanitizing old works of qualities that might make modern audiences uncomfortable is nothing new, of course.

#99 papeetepatrick

papeetepatrick

    Sapphire Circle

  • Inactive Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,486 posts

Posted 11 June 2011 - 03:47 PM


I'm so pleased you singled out Diana Cuni for praise Natalia, she is stunning in everything she does but in Bournonville she reigns supreme in my view. Lis Jeppesen's Viderick is adorable, I'm pleased she still dances the role.

The Christian element is very important to the story: faith overcoming the machinations of the supernatural and providing comfort for Hilda. This is a serious omission in my view. And I'm horrified that they've altered the Act III pas de sept, it was as close to perfect as choreography gets.


The "Christian element" bugs Alastair Macaulay, too, and he's glad to be shot of it:

Though Bournonville regarded this as his most perfect ballet, Mr. Hübbe has had the courage to change the most problematic aspect of it for many modern viewers: its reliance on holy water in Act III as the agent that restores the hero, Junker Ove, to life and sanity. In Mr. Hübbe’s production Hilda’s human charity and dance grace do the trick that holy water used to. This succeeds, beautifully.


If Ove was rescued by a fairy waving a magic wand, would Macaulay be bothered by that? How does stripping an overtly Christian story of its Christian elements help the work?

Sanitizing old works of qualities that might make modern audiences uncomfortable is nothing new, of course.


Yes. I don't think it 'helps the work' either, and 'sanitizing' is definitely what that sort of thing is. What are we gonna lose next, the Holy Grail in Lohengrin and Parsifal? I think this is a specifically Scandinavian sentiment, although not limited to Denmark (or especially
Sweden in my experience, where the 'peace-loving' types I've known well always are almost rabidly anti-religion; by that I mean they go too far, and I've got real problems with overzealous Christians myself), in which traditional religion is often thought to be more intrusive than even anybody else thinks it is. There then come these substitutes for it, as Macaulay here terms it 'human charity and dance grace do the trick that holy water used to', but I don't find it at all convincing. These human substitutes can be just as pushy and downright cloddish as your basic Christian Crusade, if the truth be known. But so much for that kind of provincialism, and there is deflnitely Scandinavian provincialism of a quasi-sophisticated sort that exists today just as was well-portrayed in its older, unsophisticated form in 'Babette's Feast', where the stolid Lutherans (who are like the contemporary atheists very often) could not enjoy Babette's French genius except in the most limited way, not quite even a whole afternoon. I've heard about 'Italian Catholic Atheists' and 'French Atheistic Catholics', but they just don't hold a candle to the overt atheism of some Scandinavians, who've got it down to even being self-righteous about it. And there is often an attitude that re-writing history is not that serious, that people in the past 'should have just known better'. It's very oppressive.

The review was otherwise very interesting, as has been the evolution of this thread since the tour began in CA. I don't think I've ever seen so many reversals and extreme differences of opinion on choreography, productions, and individual dancers. Now who am I supposed to trust, Natalia or Mr. Macaulay or Anne on Ms. Grinder next week? After all these strong opinions, I daresay I won't even know what I think.

#100 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 11 June 2011 - 05:59 PM

I'm usually on the side of historical accuracy. But regarding the holy water, I agree with Macaulay. Napoli as a work of art is nowhere near the level of Lohengrin or Parsifal. So, there is much less at stake in making a change of detail like this.

For most of us today, the idea of a miracle brought about by holy water requires a major suspension of disbelief.

On the other hand, most of us still do believe (and, more important, want deeply to believe) in another set of values that are arguably more broadly "Christian" than holy water. I'm referring to the idea that ballet miracles can and DO happen through the agency of what Macaulay calls

human charity and dance grace


Love ("charity") and art ("grace") are universals. Take the ballet Giselle. It can survive productions that downplay the importance of the cross on Giselle's grave. But it can't survive a Giselle who is unable to communicate a deep and miracle-making love for Albrecht.

#101 papeetepatrick

papeetepatrick

    Sapphire Circle

  • Inactive Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,486 posts

Posted 11 June 2011 - 06:43 PM

Yes, I can see most of that. But

For most of us today, the idea of a miracle brought about by holy water requires a major suspension of disbelief.

No more so than fairies waving magic wands, or taking any kind of ballet fairies seriously requires suspension of disbelief. There IS no la sylphide, just as that funny Southern woman said that time of Capote's unfinished work 'There IS no Answered Prayers!' As for 'human charity and dance grace' producing 'ballet miracles', the latter is always definitely required even during the mundane, dry periods, the former not always (there's a lot of diva fighting throughout the ballet eras, I believe; competition may be healthy, but it's not exactly charitable.) :helpsmilie:

#102 dirac

dirac

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 25,214 posts

Posted 11 June 2011 - 07:01 PM


For most of us today, the idea of a miracle brought about by holy water requires a major suspension of disbelief.


The context of 'A Folk Tale' is already fantastic. I don't believe in miracles, period. If you want to construct a secular framework for miraculous occurrences that's fine, but how does that justify messing with Bournonville's? We accept all kinds of magical occurrences as part of ballet stories.

#103 Natalia

Natalia

    Rubies Circle

  • Foreign Correspondent
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,396 posts

Posted 12 June 2011 - 06:16 AM

So am I the only Washington-area member of Ballet Alert! to have ventured into the Kennedy Center to see the Danes this past week? Amazing. Either the economy has shot everyone's pocketbooks and/or we are all too busy to post impressions (or regular posters are all in NYC seeing Bright Stream). I appreciate the philosophical turn of this discussion but it would also be really cool to read reports & reviews on the actual performances. :)

#104 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 12 June 2011 - 10:29 AM

I appreciate the philosophical turn of this discussion but it would also be really cool to read reports & reviews on the actual performances. :)

I agree entirely and apologize for my digression. Please, all of you who were actually in the theater: what did you think of the performance?

#105 Joan

Joan

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 23 posts

Posted 12 June 2011 - 04:25 PM

I just love this new version, specially the scenografi and cant get enough of it:) I have seen the ballet four times now and just love this version!
I must say, that I aggre with the reviewers, on something - the pas de sept should not have a dancing Birthe - that is a shame,
but everything else is in my opinion, just greate.


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):