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Syrene Hvid

Hübbe and Schandorff's Swan Lake 2016

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Initial main casting has come up on the website, very early for the RDB, as far as I've experienced the previous seasons, but all the more lovely for it.

 

The premiere will once again be Lendorf as Siegfried and Crandall as Odette/Odile. Sebastian Haynes will debut as Rothbart, a role that I think will be immensely fitting for him!

Second cast will be Marcin Kupinski as Siegfried opposite Ida Praetorius' Odette/Odile with Jonathan Chmelensky returning to Rothbart.

Third cast is, so far, the same as the first. No other casts have been added, but I expect they'll tick in little by little. 

 

As I'm seeing the performance on the 24th of September and the 8th of October, I am very excited to see if I might be catching some of the casts I didn't get to see last time around. I'd particularly love to see Andreas Kaas and Caroline Baldwin as Siegfried and Odette/Odile.

 

At the same time, I'm also a bit surprised that Praetorius didn't get the premiere this time around, with how they've been promoting her as the face of the production, I'd hoped she'd get first cast...

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Many thanks for head's up on casting.

 

I would love to see the second cast but my technologically inept self can't seem to find the details on the website. Could you please let me know what dates Praetorius/Kupinski are meant to perform?

 

All good wishes.

 

 

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So far, only the three first dates are noted with casting and Praetorius/Kupinski will dance on the 16th of September. I could send you a message when the rest of the casting goes up and let you know when they are also dancing?

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Further casts up. 

 

Caroline Baldwin: O/O, Andreas Kaas: Siegfried, Benjamin Buza: Rothbart - 21st, 23rd of September, 1st of October.

Ida Praetorius: O/O, Marcin Kupinski: Siegfried, Jonathan Chmelensky: Rothbart - 22nd and 24th of September.

 

A long stretch of just these two casts, I must say. Fortunately I'll be seeing Praetorius/Kupinski on the 24th, so definitely looking forward to that.

Also waiting to hear about the still unannounced casts and the Crandall/Lendorf cast, to see if they are getting more runs.

 

Other than that, very pleased, although these two casts are definitely getting work to do. Shows with only a day of rest in between. Ugh.

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According to Holly Dorger's Instagram page, she will be dancing Odette/Odile with Sebastian Haynes on October 7, 12 and 26 and November 4.  That could be a really interesting pairing, if it works.

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Jane, I too think Dorger/Haynes is an interesting and very promising combination. I thought they did well with the Coppélia extract on summer tour and I'm confident the tragic drama of Swan Lake will fit them even better. Luckily I get the chance to see them on the 7th, so that's a great casting catch. 

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Remaining casting up and there's a surprise in there, at least for me!

 

Caroline Baldwin: O/O, Andreas Kaas: Siegfried, Benjamin Buza: Rothbart - Oct. 5

Holly Dorger: O/O, Sebastian Haynes: Siegfried, Benjamin Buza: Rothbart - Oct. 7, 12, 26 and Nov. 4

Kizzy Matiakis: O/O, Gregory Dean: Siegfried, Jonathan Chmelensky: Rothbart - Oct. 8, 25 and Nov 3

 

I had not seen Kizzy Matiakis coming, but I am so happy to see her listed for O/O, she looked beautiful in the pictures from last season's Dance2Go White Act. Absolutely stunning. I'm so fortunate that I'll both get to see Dorger/Haynes on the 7th and Matiakis/Dean on the 8th and I'm sure it'll be the ballet weekend of my life!

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Eva Kistrup has posted her thoughts about first and second cast: http://danceviewtimes.typepad.com/eva_kistrup/2016/09/the-ultimate-role.html

 

I won't comment on the content as I generally don't experience things the same way as Eva Kistrup, particularly not the past few years. However, I certainly look forward to seeing Ida Praetorius as Odette once more, she really is a special woman and dancer. 

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One of the few reviews I've come across (first cast) - in Danish, sorry. It's generally positive, particularly towards the way the story's been interpreted and re-told, the darker aspects of the ending and the more political role of Rothbart. :) 

 

http://fyraften.nu/en-kulsort-svanesoe/20343/

Edited by KNA

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I was particularly happy to hear that both Wilma Giglio and Astrid Elbo seemed to do well in their princess dances. I would have given a lot to see Wilma in the Russian choreography!

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Attending the performance last night was a thrill.

 

I had expected and looked forward to seeing Ida Praetorius and Marcin Kupinski, but what seems very last minute, Holly Dorger and Sebastian Haynes took their place. Two of my favourite dancers and what a combi they made! Strong, emotionally loaded chemistry that translated vividly in their body language to the balcony where I was sitting.

 

There was a clear feeling in their respective portrayals that Siegfried and Odette mirrored each other, Siegfried as entrapped at court as Odette is as a swan and both of them freed in their love for each other. It worked as a beautiful link that only helped making the romance feel more real and endlessly human. I really loved it a lot. Their partnering looked solid to me, but especially the intensity of feelings was sublime between Dorger and Haynes - their PDDs were incredible, almost explosive. Especially the entire last lake scene which actually had me in tears.

 

The performance in whole also received a standing ovation.

Individually, they had amazing moments, too. Dorger's adagio and coda in the first lake scene rank among my favourites now, she portrayed an incredibly powerful and stark Odette with larger than life movements and long sweeps of her arms. She wasn't a weak, entrapped princess. Instead she was desperate and frightened, indeed, as it seemed to seep through into the quick, sharp flick-like movements of Dorger's hands when Haynes lifted her up. Her arms in particular were insanely dramatic and captivating to look at - at one point in the first lake scene PDD where Haynes gently sways her back and forth, Dorger spreads her arms wide and whenever she reached a particular angle, her arms really WERE wings and she truly did look like a large bird on the brink of death.

As Odile, Dorger had an entirely different way of moving and looked like an entirely different bird, so to speak. Interestingly, to me the movements of her Odile were somehow softer than her Odette's movements that were strong and large. As Odile, Dorger was sumptuous and playful with a tint of mockery, but no clear-cut evil, for which I'm glad. She was a real femme fatale, larger than life. All in all, her Odile kept me mesmerized throughout and what an applause she received both after her variation and her fouettes, we applauded long into Haynes' spins which were, however, also amazing.

Haynes' second solo especially where he expresses his joy and relief to have found Odette was stellar and also received a great applause. It was full of bouncing, high leaps like he was really reaching for the sky. His dancing in the second lake scene with both Odette and Rothbart was tender and desperate respectively and he channelled both emotions extremely well. A particular image that has etched itself into my mind is the start of the final PDD between Odette and Siegfried. He finds her lying hidden amongst the black swans and as the music halts, Haynes managed to conquer the silence with his own motionlessness so the moment almost felt as if it were vibrating all on its own. Then the music picked up and slowly Haynes walked over to the still Odette and carefully helped her to her feet. It was so simple, yet so touching and immensely tragic.

The finale where Siegfried is made to marry Odile was, as a consequence of this tragedy, just heart-breaking. When Dorger came back onto stage clad in black, he looked away from her and with his head turned, he took her hand and that was the last image in the audience mind before the curtain went down: Siegfried looking away from the fate he made by his own folly. A true and clenching tragedy that Haynes really made come to life with his three-dimensional portrayal of the prince who could too easily be rendered an empty mannequin otherwise. Sebastian instead showed his coming full circle as he walked solemnly around in the first act, unsure of Rothbart and court in whole. Then he experienced true love and true freedom with Odette and yet, because of Odile's allure, ended up broken and even more entrapped at court than he was to begin with. It was excellent.

In the role of Rothbart, with the heavy facial makeup, Jonathan Chmelensky really let his body talk and let his body shine. Wow, the leaps and jumps he could do. His solo in the first act, before the lake scene took its course was amazing. Yet, he wasn't all technique and power - he also portrayed a very sophisticated, manipulative genius who had taken over court and kept luring people into his games, as shown with the jester and Benno. Not to mention that his interaction with Dorger both as Odette and Odile in the second act was perfection. Pure perfection. As Rothbart and Odile, they were weaving a web together during the entire court scene which culminated at last on the other side of the final lake scene, as Odile took her place next to Siegfried and the two who looked at each other in victory at this ending were Chmelensky's Rothbart and Dorger's Odile. In contrast, as he tackled - and there's no better word, I think - the heartbroken Odette and swings her up, away from Siegfried, it was with great force and an finally unleashed want that Chmelensky showed in detail despite the heavy makeup. The harshness of his features could be seen even from the balcony. With how he danced opposite both Dorger and Haynes, one shouldn't have thought they weren't usually in cast together.

In the supporting roles of jester and Benno were Tobias Praetorius and Andreas Kaas. Both were great. Kaas brought high spirits and some amazing jumps to the pas de trois and T. Praetorius had the perfect build for the character - not to mention that his jester brought some Russian flair to the choreography with endless turns in the first scene. In the pas de trois also danced Caroline Baldwin and Kizzy Matiakis, both beautiful dancers who each shone in different parts of the choreography. Baldwin was precise and sharp in her variation while Matiakis started out the final coda (I think it is) with a series of very stunning jumps that just looked so effortless to my eyes.

Other than the pas de trois, though, the first scene in the first act didn't come off as quite as clean and striking as the rest of the ballet and despite some changes to the choreography that has made the plot more transparent, it still feels a bit weaker than the rest of this otherwise perfect Swan Lake production where the fairytale aspect was really allowed to burn through yesterday without losing its political twist at the end.

The swan scenes were amazing to watch. Seeing them from up high gave an entirely different experience of patterns and togetherness of the many swans. They danced beautifully and in perfect sync, as I saw it. The feeling of watching a whole wave of arms and tutus was very stark and the changing lights cast all these swan maidens in changing colors as the scenes progressed. It was gorgeous. Mikki Kunttu has really worked some serious magic with the lighting.

All three group of swans, the small swans, the big swans and the black swans were excellent, but I was especially pleased to see the big swan choreography danced as beautifully as it was by Astrid Elbo, Stephanie Chen Gundorph, Emma Håkansson and Elenora Morris. The black swans choreography as well, one of my favourite parts of the entire ballet, was amazingly well performed and looked much darker and sinister than I remember it, like an open field at night under the stars. From now on, I'll remember it this way instead, it was quite perfect. Beautiful. Like something out of a gothic fairytale.

Speaking of gothic fairytales, the four princesses in the second act court scene all had good moments, too, the Hungarian princess Christina Michanek capturing some picturesque poses and Spanish princess Alba Nadal doing great bull's horns, but my favourites were Russian princess Stephanie Chen Gundorph who conquered a slightly altered choreography by Oliver Starpov and really danced with force and temptation, her bright red lips sending smiles all the way up to the balcony while she caressed her male ensemble with intensity as well as abandon, moving from one to the other. I really adored her performance of this amazing choreography and the feeling of a clockwork was even more palpable than before. These new changes only did good things.

As the Italian princess, Heather Dunn was a true ace out of the sleeve. She was so fast and spunky, charming and also entertaining to look at. She danced in perfect tune with her ensemble, Alexander Bozinoff and Alexander Stæger. I've honestly never enjoyed this piece of choreography more than I did last night. It was an amazing act and it was probably one of my favourite parts altogether, although it's difficult to choose with the entire ballet being so fantastic. It deserved its standing ovation and I am so glad I'll be seeing it again twice more.

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Agreed, the standing ovation was so, so well-deserved. 

 

I'd invited my parents along for this performance. It's their first time experiencing the RDB and they had only the barest idea as to what to expect. But the story made perfect sense to them, as did the characters and they absolutely loved Sebastian Haynes and Holly Dorger in particular. They had a great time and it makes me feel really proud of the company - they deliver such wonderful performances that they manage to touch thoroughly even those with limited or zero ballet experience. Personally, I think that speaks volumes. 

 

Also, apart from a very few stumbles, the orchestra was absolutely sublime this evening! 

 

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More than how different the two shows were, of which I saw both, and what their weaknesses might have been, I'd rather focus on how much they had in common and how these common features made them individually very strong performances, at least in my view. 

 

From my seat, both nights' main couples had amazing, strong chemistry with each other that helped the storytelling be more than simply beauty or simply tragedy, but created coherence in the full picture as well as in the little details of which both combinations had woven in plenty. On both evenings, the love felt undeniable and true to me, the main difference being what sort of shade it had been dyed in, with Dorger/Haynes' being brighter and wilder whereas it was in some way more glowing and had matured with Matiakis/Dean. 

 

The same goes for the individual dancers within the constellations, all four delivered fine performances.

 

Both Haynes and Dean were amazing princes, I thought, who brought out more than the stereotypical walk-and-stop stick figure that the character easily becomes. Each they gave him a fleshed out personality and hinted at a background story in the storyline-given elements, plus they both danced some of the best I've seen from either of them! Haynes seemed in his portrayal more freedom-yearning than the more romantically focused Dean, but both interpretations felt well-grounded and the two dancers furthermore seemed to put equal amounts of story into the relationship with Rothbart, for example, and defined themselves strongly in these interactions, too. 

 

Both Dorger and Matiakis should receive praise for both their Odettes as well as their Odiles, if you ask me, because they both made very beautiful portrayals of both characters, even if their respective nights' biggest wow-moment came in different acts for me. With Dorger her entire Odile scene was such a blast, from a thrilling pas de deux and variation full of sculpted attitude to the culmination in some very swift fouettes that really left me mindblown.

 

For Matiakis her Odette's entrance scene in the first act was a thing of beauty that showed itself all the way out in the tiniest tremble of her fingertips, spread out very feather-like and fragile, and continued on into a lyrical presence throughout the mime scene also.

 

But, really, for me, both ballerinas showed their wide range by also conquering the ground in contrasting colour, white for one and black for the other, and created a full experience through their different takes on the double role, deep drama as with Dorger and pure poetry as with Matiakis, both amazingly exciting to watch for me. 

 

And that's really all I have the brains to write right now. I'll hopefully be able to write more about the other aspects of the performances over the next couple of days. 

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