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Additions to the Bournonville Archive

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I wanted to comment on some of Hans Brenaa's remarks. Brenaa was one of the greatest Bournonville stagers/coaches/directors. He was the High Priest to whom one went with a Bournonville question. I never met him, alas, but certainly heard about him from dancers who worked with him and I admire him very much.

Two things that Brenaa says in this interview struck me as odd. The first is that the Bournonville Schools were no longer taught in Copenhagen. True, but that had been done in 1949, and Brenaa himself did not teach strictly Bournonville classes. He mixed up the combinations, I've been told. Occasionally he'd say "Okay, it's Wednesday and we're doing it," which would mean, to a Danish dancer, that it was Wednesday and they were going to do the Wednesday class that day. But this was not his usual practice, either with adults or children (he taught both). The theory behind the Bournonville Schools was that they had been fashioned until another teacher of genius, on an international level, came to Copenhagen. When Vera Volkova arrived in 1951, she incorporated Bournonville technique and style in her own classes. Her pupils -- Stanley Williams and Henning Kronstam among them -- followed this practice. It's always interested me that Brenaa was initially more interested in the Russians than in Bournonville. He staged the company's first production of Aurora's Wedding in the 1940s and had studied with Egorova (the interview mentions this too) in Paris. He brought back the secret of spotting to Copenhagen -- a secret Bournonville, I've been told, never wanted the dancers to know, as he hated multiple pirouettes smile.gif When Harald Lander was forced out of the company in 1950, however, Brenaa saw that the Bournonville repertory was not being well-cared for and became "the man screaming for Bournonville" from that time. He is responsible, single-handedly, for saving "Kermesse in Bruges" and "The King's Volunteers on Amager." The former had suffered a disastrous staging in the 1960s and was prounced dead; the latter had been out of repertory for nearly 30 years and Brenaa brought it back from his memory (it had not been notated).

Brenaa also speaks quite passionately in this interview about how Bournonville must NOT be changed. I agree! I agree! And then I learned how much Brenaa had changed him. He condensed the classical pas in ballets such as "Kermesse in Bruges" and "Conservatoriet," which had originally been interspersed with mime. Brenaa cut the mime and left only the dancing. He also added a lot of dances: Adrian's solo in Kermesse, a solo for Louise in Lifeguards, (the only unfortunate one, to my eyes) a pas de deux for Teresina and Golfo in Napoli Act II, the children's dances in Napoli Act III, Effy's solo in La Sylphide Act I (and it was Brenaa who gave the two male solos in Act I to James and Gurn; previously, in Denmark, they had been danced by soloists). There are others, but those are the main ones.

So, yes, don't change Bournonville smile.gif

[ January 07, 2002: Message edited by: alexandra ]

[ January 07, 2002: Message edited by: alexandra ]

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