Jump to content
Jane Simpson

Yet more from Nikolaj Hübbe...

Recommended Posts

...who surely must get more air- and screen-time than any other ballet master in the world!

This time it's an hour-long radio interview. A Google translate of the on-screen introduction will give an idea of some of the topics, but my own Danish is only good enough to get a very sketchy impression of the actual conversation. If anyone has the language and the time to listen to the whole thing, maybe they could pick out some key points for us? (Anne? Pamela? please?)

Share this post


Link to post

I'm working on it and will return tomorrow with a short summary. Most of it is quite common knowledge, but there are some interesting things, too.

Share this post


Link to post

The interview is a very traditional one and consists mainly of a recapitulation of his career, with looks back on Hübbe's time as a child on the ballet school at RDB, which he entered at the age of 9. He was blessed with a good voice, too, and sang in the famous Copenhagen Royal Chapel Choir, before he started ballet training professionally. He talks about the nervousness every child feels during summer holidays, when they are waiting for the letter telling them whether they can continue ballet school or will have to stop. He himself never felt this anxiety, he was always convinced he would be allowed to continue. He has always had this enourmous selfconfidence, close to a feeling of destiny. If the letter had been a negative one, his world would have been completely shattered. Plan B, he suppose, would have been to become an actor.

Also as a young man, in his years as apprentice, he had this selfassurance and admits that he dreamt about worldfame and being the new Nureyev or Erik Bruhn. Still very young he went to New York to attend a course, and he was offered a 6 months scholarship with SAB with prospects of being a member of the NYCB afterwards. He accepted, but was tricked home by his parents who told him, the RDB would sue him, if he stayed away. Back in Copenhagen he aggreed reluctantly to stay on a while. In a newspaper interview in Politiken from these early years, he is announced as the new hope of the RDB, and in this interview he says he says himself that "I know it sounds snooty but the RDB could as well close down the shop if I left right now, so I'll stay on a little while". With a laugh he tells today, that the day after no one spoke to him in the theatre.

The main reason for him to stay in Copenhagen was Henning Kronstam, the ballet master then. Very interesting is his recount of Henning Kronstams influence. To him Kronstam was a kind of artistic father. In Hübbe's own words, he has never met a more authoritative person. He had only to enter a room, and you straightened automatically the back and tried even harder- He was a kind of artistic conscience, a reminder of why you were there and what it was all about. There is a very short bit of an interview with Kronstam transmitted directly to the Danish Radio from RDB's American tour in 1956, where Kronstam had just made his debut as James in Bournonville's La Sylphide.

He also talks a lot about the importance of the morning class, which meant everything to him as a dancer, both mentally and physically. He wouldn’t be able to face a performance in the evening without having done all the routines of the morning class.

An other subject is his intimate relationship with the stage as such: how he was always drawn towards the stage because it represented at the same time an otherworldliness, which thrilled him from the very beginning, and a hightened feeling of being alive - or even coming to life. "To exist on a stage from moment to moment, catch the moment and send it out to the audience in the darkness, being in the moment. I think that was really where my talent was",says Nikolaj Hübbe.

Hübbe admits that he suffered from a growing stage fright at the end of his career. It disappeared as soon as he entered the stage, but the day and night before a performance was terrible.

About his time as a ballet master (from 2008) he says with his usual frankness, that he often regrets to have taken on the post, but never long enough to resign in reality. His impatience is according to himself his biggest problem, but at the same time he also has an enourmous self discipline and personal will, which makes him continue even when he thinks it is against all odds.

He has concentrated more on the classic works in these two first years to make the artistic level of the company high enough to start working with new choreographers. he wants to do that more in the years to come.

Share this post


Link to post

Anne, thank you so very much for taking the time to do this! It is standard fare, but not to us :) There haven't been that many interviews with NH over here. Thank you again!

Share this post


Link to post
”To exist on a stage from moment to moment, catch the moment and send it out to the audience in the darkness, being in the moment. .. "says Nikolaj Hübbe.

I think that's wonderful - exactly what I hope to get from a dancer.

A huge thankyou from me too, Anne, for such an elegant summary!

Share this post


Link to post

Still more from Nikolaj Hübbe:

A long interview has been brought in the AOK guide (an internet guide to cultural life in Copenhagen):

Interview (Im sorry, it is in Danish.)

He is interviewed about his new production of Bournionville's "A Folk Tale", and the angle of the interview is the demons present in this ballet and the demons in his own life. He says a lot of harsh words about Danish mentality and about our bureaucratic/democratic ways of doing things, which means that everything takes a long time. In many aspects he is right, I'm afraid. He still loves the american way of reacting and acting spontaneously to things and make things happen. In Denmark it is always very important that everybody is getting heard and that you talk things through before you get to a conclusion everybody can aggree with. Very sympathetic in many ways, but it can be extremely time consuming.

Share this post


Link to post

the attached scan shows a publicity photo of Hubbe (and Lloyd Riggins) posed to document Bournonville's JOCKEY DANCE (an excerpt from the choreographer's 1876 "Fra Siberien til Moskow") - the date stamped on the back, likely noting the when the photo was received for particular publication purposes is JUN 13, 1989. [the crop marks indicate perhaps an intended focus on Riggins.]

post-848-068384800 1299872070_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×