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Syrene Hvid

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  1. Revisiting this ballet and this cast yesterday was not just an experience, but a true blessing. All premiere nerves seemed to have worn off everyone and the one major casting switch (Gregory Dean danced the role of Des Grieux instead of Marcin Kupinski) was a thoroughly positive one. Whereas it was the love story between the two leads that made the experience so intense and interesting last time, both Matiakis and Bozinoff had developed nuances to their portrayals of Marguerite and Armand at this point, so that besides a beautiful love story, the two character's individual story arcs came out much more vividly than when I saw them at their premiere. Somehow this elevated the ballet to new heights. I called it perfection Saturday last and I mean that, still, but the production that the entire company put on yesterday was simply beyond perfection. The parallels between Manon, Des Grieux, Marguerite and Armand were shown very clearly, a special energy coming over the stage whenever Matiakis was faced with Silvia Selvini as Manon or Dean's Des Grieux mirrored Bozinoff's Armand. Last time I had been particularly enamoured with the first act, this time I was particularly enamoured with the second and the third (though, the theatre scene in the first act was honestly the one to beat in standard, what a performance by both Dean and Selvini). Perhaps because the music was so wonderfully on point this time (everything was amazingly played by Allison Smith, I've never heard this ballet sound so good) and most of the ensemble dancing takes place in those two acts... The countryside act and the white ensemble dancing was just so lovely to look at - just as the ballroom scene in act three was taken to new heights by both dancers and pianist. Furthermore, the development of the relationship between Marguerite and Armand was shown with great skill and confidence. In the white act, not only the pas de deux was amazing (so fluid, gentle and breathtakingly soft), but there were little, tender moments portrayed by Matiakis and Bozinoff in the ensemble scenes and intermediate scenes. The way Matiakis would all but wrap her arms around Bozinoff's neck and the back of his head as they danced their waltz among the other waltzers - or the way she repeated this motion later when saying her goodbyes to Armand, a simple gesture, perhaps, but full of meaning and dramatic weight. It was quite simply beautiful. However, the greatest elevation in performance was in the black pas de deux. It was very well performed last time, but like I wrote, the pas de deuxs overall lacked some abandon - none of the pas de deux did that this time and especially not the black where both Matiakis and Bozinoff truly gave it their all, it was remarkable and so in the music. The passion was intense and the entire audience was just waiting to break out in applause near the end. The way the two dancers managed to create parallels in their dancing, so that you really felt Armand's and Marguerite's stories run like never-quite-touching lines at this point in the ballet, which also made the times when their hands would link or the second part of the pas de deux during the love-making stand out all the more poignantly. Like, you looked at the way they'd repeat each other's motions and know it was only a temporary refuge... Very passionate and very tragic. Framed it by an entire cast where absolutely everyone gave it their best and delivered amazing portrayals of every character, yesterday was an intense experience. I have to once more mention Selvini as Manon, because although she was very good last time, yesterday she was a star. Some of the patches where she had been a little more rough Saturday last were cleaned up nicely and you couldn't see that she'd changed partners, perhaps only for the better, really. She and Dean worked really well together and had very well balanced portrayals of Des Grieux and Manon, so good that a relationship development could also be felt and traced in their story line and dancing which I don't think I've ever seen in this ballet before, not as clearly. Dean is an incredible partner and just swung Selvini around like she was lighter than air, their lifts worked very smoothly and impressively. Jonathan Chmelensky was in sparkling form as Gaston, his partnering of Astrid Elbo as Prudence absolutely breathtaking, her long legs really getting shown off in those throws and lifts. Elbo herself had really found and polished her interpretation of Prudence and portrayed a young-spirited, playful courtesan with some sharp edges here and there, although she showed great, genuine care for Marguerite and this made her character more likable than I usually think she's portrayed at. I really liked it and if she was a bit anonymous last time, none of that this time around - her solo in act two was one of the individual highlights! Guilherme De Menezes made quite the character of Count N. this time, too and he had several striking moments where his desperation and adoration for Marguerite mix together to a sort of pitiful sweetness that was a lovely take on the character. Finally, another development of the role was seen with Wilma Giglio as Olympia, this time performing very strongly and beautifully, really showing the coquettishness and dainty nature of the character, but most importantly she just danced so wonderfully to the lovely piece of music that plays during Olympia's solo. It was so lovely to look at and she helped made the Champs-Élysées scene one of the most remarkable versions I've seen yet. The way the women's shoes would move in time with the music, beating out little rhythms with their pointes, the uneasy movement, the muted colours and then Olympia's pop of pink... Yes, it was one of my favourite scenes. All in all, a perfect performance and a perfect cast had improved in ways I didn't even think possible and since this will be my last Lady of this run (and who really knows when it will return, neither the times I've attended has played for a full house, I fear - so maybe my last Lady for a while, if not forever), I'm glad the experience was so supremely, sublimely beautiful.
  2. Lady of the Camellias being my favourite ballet, I was happy to see it return once again, finally, to the Old Stage. I went to see the premiere of the second cast this Saturday and can with an ecstatic heart report back that not only did I rediscover my love for this ballet, but this cast made me love it all the more, all the fresher and all the brighter. Never have I seen the two main characters portrayed so lovingly and sympathetically and never have I had a difficult time deciding whether to look at Armand or Marguerite, when they were both on stage at the same time. This time I did. Kizzy Matiakis, one of the RDB's dramatic heavyweights, debuted as Marguerite and transformed the role into something sublime and complete. She went beyond the somewhat clichéd and tired portrayal of a pretty courtesan who loves and dies of heartbreak first, consumption only secondly, adding an undertone of rawness to the part that I haven't seen anyone do and will probably forever miss from now on, when I see the production again as danced by others. It was little things, how she would sometimes slouch and lose her elegant bearing, the way she coughed (it wasn't pretty, it was ugly and harsh and heart-wrenching). As danced by her, Marguerite's transformation becomes clearly evident, she is playful and tempted by Armand, but clinging to her comforts in the purple pas de deux in the first act, succumbing eventually to love and devotion by giving up that which could guarantee her the easy life in the white pas de deux and finally, struggling with her decision to give it all up in a passionate, heart-faltering, fast black pas de deux. The story was told effortlessly and without forcing any one understanding of the two characters' relationship down anyone's throats. They laid it out and the audience took it in - and, might I add, they seemed to love it. Never have I before seen the audience engage so strongly in this ballet. People laughed at Armand's dramatics as he threw himself before her feet, the silence was quivering during the PDDs, as if we were really touched by their love, physically, and the sobbing during the final moments of the ballet was audible. Not only on my part. Matiakis created a Marguerite who has lived the comfortable life long enough to almost lose her soul to it, finding it awakened by her love for Armand and becoming addicted to this feeling of care and integrity - the same integrity that makes her give him up when his father asks her to, slowly losing herself to her illness without his love for her to keep her strong. It was heart-breaking and honest and intense. I've never seen a Marguerite like Matiakis' before and I've seen all the Danish ones, plus a fair few on YouTube and DVD. I will be seeing the same cast this Saturday and my only hope for improvement will be that they let go a little more in the lifts. They were performed beautifully and steadily, but bearing the mark of first night nerves, so very safely, too, with no reckless abandon until the black PDD where we got abandon in spades. Alexander Bozinoff is a dancer I hadn't expected a lot from in this role. Having seen him dance several leading roles, I'd thought he'd be passable, but nothing special or groundbreaking, but oh boy, was I wrong. If Matiakis brought something new and fresh to the role, Bozinoff rewrote Armand for me. I will never find an Armand I will feel is mine again as I did with him. From the first moment when he ran on stage and you could hear his desperate, heaving breathing all the way to the balcony, I was sold. He was a young Armand, but also a caring, sympathetic and devoted Armand. Often I have seen portrayals of this character where his solo in act 2 makes me think he's just a spoiled man-child, but there was none of this with Bozinoff. The way he would touch Matiakis' Marguerite as if he almost didn't dare lay a hand on her, the way he'd be drawn to her like a bee to a flower, the way he has no scruples laying it all down and telling her he loves her, caring little for her illness or her position... It was a heartfelt, honest take on the character, as if you felt these things came from deep inside the dancer himself. His chemistry with Matiakis was absolutely sublime. They lived and breathed for each other when they were on stage together, the way he'd carry her, the way they'd respond to each other. This was love. Perfectly portrayed. And about that second act solo. I think it was Bozinoff's earnestness that did it for me. He seemed more desperate than angry, more heartbroken than entitled. And the part of the choreography where he runs back to Paris to find Marguerite with the Duke (nobly portrayed by Matteo Di Loreto) - a part of the choreography that has always looked a little bit ridiculous to me, well, it made my heart leap into my throat this time and only felt horribly, horribly heart-breaking to watch. My favourite scene, one I often overlook otherwise, was the scene at the ball when Armand pays Marguerite for her services. Perhaps it was because Bozinoff made me care about Armand finally, but suddenly the entire thing came together and the ensemble along with the soloists just brought so much story-telling and presence to that scene. It felt awful to watch the money be passed to her. It felt awful the way he stood at the opposite end of the stage and cried his eyes out. It felt awful and I've never felt anything in particular for this scene before. The dancing, the way he's drag her around and be very forceful and violent with her also translated beautifully onto the stage and I was honestly mesmerized all way through. Framed in by a strong cast all-over, the ballet was just a joy to watch from start to finish. Jonathan Chmelensky was a very striking, precise and funny Gaston and his partnership with Astrid Elbo as Prudence (her debut) was something to write home about, even if she wasn't the strongest Prudence I've seen on her own. She was charming and funny, but turned a bit anonymous when sharing the stage with Matiakis' Marguerite. Marcin Kupinski really got to show off his partnering skills as Des Grieux with a both very beautiful and very tragic Silvia Selvini as Manon. Their death scene, both the acted one and the real one at the end, was remarkable. Christina Michanek was a very loving and long-suffering Nanina. Benjamin Buza was a stern and strong Monsieur Duval who made the scene him and Marguerite share something indescribably hurtful and tender at the same time. Finally, both Guilherme De Menezes and Wilma Giglio didn't quite make me feel Count de N. and Olympia as much as I usually do, especially Olympia's part of the choreography counting amongst my favourite scenes normally. Perhaps they will catch my eye more next Saturday... One thing I'm also hoping for some improvement in regards to would be the music. The piano didn't play quite as well as I know it can in the first two acts, especially impacting the ensemble scenes, though in the third act it really found its sound and left me crying over the beauty of Chopin. All in all, though, I will say that this is one of those performances - that if this would be the last Lady of the Camellias that I should ever get to watch, that would be okay. I wouldn't mind at all remembering the ballet this way. It was stunningly beautiful. It was as close to perfection as any one ballet performance can ever come. The first cast has been reviewed by Eva Kistrup, so if anyone want to read for comparison, her review is up on her site. The Royal Theatre has made a small interview with Neumeier about staging Lady of the Camellias in Copenhagen and it features clips of the cast I've seen. It can be found here: https://video.kglteater.dk/john-neumeier-om-kameliadamen
  3. Eva Kistrup's review: http://danceviewtimes.typepad.com/eva_kistrup/2018/09/killing-carmen.html I had a unique experience at the ballet last night. Unique in the sense that for the first time in my almost ten years as a ballet-goer, I left at intermission. The act I watched of Carmen had no connection to the original story (as I experienced it) beyond the beautiful music and a vague Spanish setting that the extremity of the costumes didn't really emphasize. In the photo material for the ballet, I had found the costumes at least appealing, but on stage they didn't work for me at all and what actual dancing there was was stifled by the large-scale size of what the dancers had been shoved into. There was too much talking and not all lines were delivered with the same conviction. Much of the choreography seemed to me sloppy and lazy - not that the dancers didn't do with it what they could, but then again, the dancers can't take the blame for the choreographer's mistakes. Throughout, it reminded me more of the showdance revue-style of performance than a ballet or even modern dance performance and this might have been the point, but it just didn't speak to me. I think me and my girlfriend might have been the only ones not to like it in the audience that night, though. Much of the dancing and many of the little dialogues were met with applause and cheers, where it seemed cheap to me. Cheaply bought laughs, cheaply bought applauses. The film setting took up more of the performance than the dance itself did and the many touches and details in it might have looked good aesthetically, but seemed to serve no purpose beyond being crazy or edgy. Carmen as a character had been watered down to the portrayal by several different dancers and the cigar or the big red skirt was at times the only sense of consistency between them. Kizzy Matiakis was my only real highlight in this the only act I watched, because her dance in the large black costume was underlined by strong acting and a punchy portrayal of independence and her pas de trois also showed some strong connections to the character - in a choreography that otherwise had a clumsy feel and looked better in black and white and closeups on the big screen than actually viewed on the stage. When the dancers were doing cancans times three near the end of the first act, I think my girlfriend and I looked at each other and silently decided that we wouldn't be staying for the rest. We abandoned two very good seats on the balcony and were sorry to see our tickets go to waste, but we simply couldn't take any more. Have anyone else seen Carmen yet? Was your experience different than mine? I do hope so and would be interested in hearing what you liked/didn't like!
  4. I attended last night's repremiere of Hübbe and Schandorff's new version of Giselle and it was an experience that truly made up for the traveling time between Aarhus and Copenhagen - and doing said traveling on a workday. The premiere cast was as following: Holly Dorger as Giselle Jonathan Chmelensky as Albrecht Emma Riis-Kofoed as Myrtha (she's only a corps dancer!) Jón Axel Fransson as Hilarion Astrid Elbo and Elenora Morris as two wilies Silvia Selvini and Alexander Bozinoff in the peasant pas de deux Christina Michanek as Bathilde Mette Bødtcher as Bertha, Giselle's mother It was a beautiful performance, it really was. Overall, the corps was very sharp and in sync, so the dancing looked wonderful both in the peasant dances of act 1 and as danced by the wilies in act 2, but most importantly all dancers had found a unique perspective on their characters that when combined made up a full, believable story. As they presented this to the audience, it became very moving and I wasn't the only one on first row to shed a tear by the end. Dorger carried the title role very well and both acted and danced a tender, sweet, weak-hearted girl in the first act as well as a sorrow-filled, enduring and forgiving wili in the second act. Her partnership with Chmelensky was true perfection, a match made in heaven, even more so than when I saw them dance Swan Lake together earlier this year. They had made this ballet theirs. In the first act, Dorger's mime made people chuckle several times, for example the scene where she sits down on the bench and arranges her dress, so there's no room for Albrecht. Audible chuckling was heard all around me, her naivety and sweetness was just so endearing. I saw her in her debut as Giselle last time (where she was still in my opinion the best Giselle out of the three, I saw all casts that season), but her portrayal of the girl in act one especially has softened around the edges and gained a more romantic appearance which was lovely. Especially the way she portrayed Giselle being in love with Albrecht was heartfelt and very tender with moments where Giselle seemed lost in her own emotions on stage, little glimpses of truly great acting. All this sweetness and softness made her mad scene even more gut-wrenching. It was a beautiful show. Dorger's eyes reflected how her character delved deeper and deeper inside of her own chasms and her movements grew more and more frantic, harsh and desperate. She spoke with her body first. The leaps she makes toward the end of the mad scene were both very violent and very moving. In Chmelensky's arms, as he lifts her up at the end, she grows completely stiff as if in rigor mortis already which was such an effective way to signal her death. In her mother's arms afterwards, she was limp. Unresponsive. Life had left her body completely. However good Dorger was in the first act, however, she was better, even better in the second. I thought the was an ethereal, mournful and most importantly, forgiving wili. Again, her partnership with Chmelensky in the pas de deux was emotional and deep-felt, convincing me that theirs, Albrecht's and Giselle's, was a love that could win over even the cold hearts of the wilis and their queen. The final part where the bell is heard and all the wilis (plus Myrtha) bow down to Giselle in circles around her, it felt like Giselle's love had raised her above, that she now was their queen, it was a side to the story I had never noticed before and I liked this interpretation very much. It made the entire second act seem a more coherent part of the ballet and not just a white act shoved onto the end of the story. All in all the final scenes between Dorger's Giselle and Chmelensky's Albrecht were heart-wrenchingly beautiful in their execution and as I said, I wasn't the only one to cry. I could hear sobbing and sniffling in the darkness. All Giselle's main choreography in act two were well-danced by Dorger, but I have to give special mention to her solos that are danced to save Albrecht, there was so much will and hope and desperation in these dances that I felt them deep within my chest, once more the partnership between Chmelensky and Dorger added to their respective choreography and gave them purpose, meaning. It was amazing. Chmelensky has quickly become my favorite male dancer at the RDB and after seeing him tackle Siegfried beautifully, I had high hopes for his Albrecht. He didn't disappoint. Actually, I can honestly say that out of all the Albrechts I've seen so far in my balletomane career, DVDs, live performances, everything, he has by far been the most wonderful. His interpretation was a very smitten Albrecht in the first act - not in a Romeo and Juliet way, fortunately, but in the way that he truly seems to love Giselle for being an escape from court life and his betrothal to Bathilde. He's slightly restrained in the beginning of the first act, but grows more and more free throughout, until the hunting party arrive and he manages to show what kind of man Albrecht is "at home". Arrogant and cold. His "thoughts of fancy" gesture when he's asked why he's dressed like a peasant is so cold-hearted and with a set jaw that it actually hurt me a little to watch, ouch. This contrasting shift is so sudden and harsh that it seems only logical that it would trigger Giselle's mad scene. When he breaks down completely at seeing Giselle dead, I really felt how he hadn't considered that behind the pastoral facade of the village that he had so exploited was beating a human heart that could break and that he has now lost the woman he truly loved. Excellent interpretation, excellent acting and very subtly done. But even Chmelensky only got better by act two. We are met by an Albrecht who has taken responsibility for what he's done and seeks forgiveness. There's a lovely moment as he walks through the graveyard where he seems to make ready to turn around before delivering the flowers to her grave, but then steels himself... In act two, Chmelensky's Albrecht seeks forgiveness continuously and never stops regretting what he's done. It's a very sympathetic character and I suddenly understand why Giselle forgives him, something that isn't always the case with this ballet for me. Once more, he partners Dorger beautifully, especially their first high lift was prolonged, well-balanced and effortless to look at. The best part of the ballet, however, and definitely the part that got the loudest applause from the audience was Albrecht's death dance solo. It was spectacular! It was equal parts technique and pathos. This was where Chmelensky's Albrecht became a person, a struggling, breathing, living person, not just a character or a role. From then on out, the entire ballet breathed life into its lungs and rose above all other versions I've seen. In the final scene, Chmelensky managed to emphasize Dorger's airiness by standing in the middle of the stage and hugging empty air after Giselle withdraws back into the shadows. It was heart-wrenching and this was probably the moment that had me losing some composure. It's only fitting that his Albrecht is the last thing we see, because Chmelensky made it clear with his dancing and his acting why Albrecht is the first main character we're introduced to on stage and the final vision on stage before the curtain goes down. The ballet may be named Giselle, but it's also about his journey, as much as it's about Giselle's. I've never seen this more clearly than I did Friday night. All because of this one dancer. The casting around the two mains was also very good. Jon Axel Fransson made an excellent, strong Hilarion with a punch of a death scene. Christina Michanek was a beautiful, subtly acted Bathilde with incredibly clear miming. Astrid Elbo was amazing as one of the two wilies, an ethereal expression with some strong, very floaty dancing. Emma Riis-Kofoed's Myrtha was another reason the story made a greater whole for me this evening. She was a very young, kind of agitated Myrtha and especially in her interaction with the other characters, she gained strength and purpose within the story. The way she sent Hilarion to his death was chilling and her reactions to Giselle's love for Albrecht, perplexed, fearful even, suddenly made me understand that these emotions as much as the sunrise made Giselle and Albrecht win that battle. With time, Riis-Kofoed will undoubtedly gain the experience and security as a dancer to fill out Myrtha's solos, but Friday night - although they were well danced - she didn't quite take the stage to the same degree as I have seen some of our principal women do. However, I did think she did a fine job both with the choreography as with the acting and she fit into the cast as a whole like a hand in a glove. So, all in all, I thought it was one of the best evenings I've had at the ballet in a long time and I definitely liked this interpretation of Giselle's story better than what the last Giselle run produced. Even the costumes and sets - that seemed crowded and eyesore last time - functioned very well this time around, beautiful lighting and the big doors in act two finally came to their right and made sense. Did anyone else go see the production on Friday or Saturday?
  5. The site for Jewels has been updated with an amazingly beautiful photo header of Holly Dorger in Diamonds costume... It seems casting for Emeralds (I think) has gone up for all dates as well, although Rubies and Diamonds casting still hasn't been announced. I have tickets for the premiere on the 22nd of April and am so amazingly excited for this ballet, that I can barely wait. Is anyone else planning on going for this?
  6. It very much did, Drew. At least if you ask me. It was a generally smooth, well-danced and entertaining program. Pleasing on the eye.
  7. I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to revisit the Ballet the Luxe program yesterday and from seats way up front, so the experience was an entirely new one, although the cast was (for the most part) the same as the premiere cast. Yesterday the Queen also attended and it was quite the buzz amongst the audience, like it often seems to be. Seeing Sebastian Haynes and Amy Watson up close in Flower Festival made me appreciate them in the piece even more and the music was beautiful this time around, too. Especially Haynes did an amazing job with some stunning jumps and leaps and an energy that just filled the room with joy. Watson looked beautiful with a warm sweetness about her that suited the choreography well and her dancing was great throughout. The ballabile was beautifully danced by the corps and soloists and I was especially enamored with Alexander Bozinoff's initial solo. Everyone really threw themselves into it and you kind of felt the Italian heat and the passion of the setting. Once more the Wilhelm Tell PDD was a fun and entertaining addition to the first act and wonderfully danced by Kizzy Matiakis and Jon Axel Fransson. They did a remarkable job and caused some laughs in the audience with their cute interaction. It was nice seeing a piece of choreography that isn't performed very often and given a go, even if only in part and I really thought the high spirits of the piece fitted the entire Bournonville segment perfectly. All in all, I thought the Bournonville section was much improved since the first viewing and really shows that the style is still alive and well in the company. The second part of the program was divided between Silvia Selvini and Andreas Kaas, Ida Praetorius and Marcin Kupinski, Holly Dorger and Guilherme De Menezes (on exchange from ENB) and finally, J'aime Crandall and Gregory Dean. The act started off in high spirits with a beautifully danced Coppelia PDD where Selvini looked absolutely gorgeous in her cute costume opposite a sparkling and energy-filled Kaas. Selvini was so beautiful throughout her entire choreography with both some wonderful solos and a good partnership with Kaas, that she still earned a loud, earnest and much deserved applause despite an unfortunate fall near the very end of her final variation. Kaas danced with lots of attitude and made a great partner for Selvini, they suited each other very well in stature, looks and expression. I wasn't smitten with the Black Swan PDD as it was danced last night by Praetorius and Kupinski, I thought it looked somewhat stiff and lacked musicality, but both Praetorius and Kupinski still poured a good amount of attitude and acting into their portrayals. Praetorius ended her fouettes some beats before the music and travelled quite a lot, though the first moment of that final part of the coda when both Kupinski and Praetorius were turning looked as great as on the premiere. Although I sat closer than on the premiere, I thought they did a better job the first time I saw them. In the Tchaikovsky PDD, Dorger this time danced with a dancer on the OJD exchange program, De Menezes, and I don't know whether this was his debut in the piece, it wasn't indicated in the cast list, but I thought he was very promising and had some good solos, even if his partnering skills didn't fully live up to those of Alban Lendorf in the powerhouse performance on the premiere. Dorger had only grown since last time I saw her in this and her solos were incredibly beautifully danced, especially the second one which was breathtaking to look at. She harbours a great drama in all her movements and yet holds on to a sweetness and sincerity in her expression that strengthened her interaction with De Menezes just with a few glances. They did have a lovely connection when dancing together and he himself had a calm energy about him. I enjoyed this segment of the second act a lot, really loved it. Finally we finished off with the Balcony PDD from Neumeier's Romeo and Juliet - after a long wait yet again, while the balcony was installed. Danced by Crandall and Dean, it was a treat seeing their partnership unfold once more up close and I decided while watching them dance together, that although I love Praetorius as Juliet quite a lot, I prefer Crandall's a bit more mature portrayal of her as a character. She still holds on to the character's sweetness and innocence, without making her overly naive, something I think adds a depth to her relation to Romeo which suits the characters well. Dean really came through as Romeo, too, and partnered Crandall well. He was playful and completely smitten with her Juliet, which put Crandall's a bit more thoughtful Juliet in greater contrast. It was a lovely performance. Theme and Variations ended off our evening and what a performance it was. The corps was sharp, precise and a treasure to look at. Both the soloist ladies and men did a fine job and Caroline Baldwin and Jonathan Chmelensky in the leads partnered each other beautifully where Baldwin came through with lots of presence and Chmelensky was a true powerhouse to witness in his solo segments. The final half of the performance was absolutely stunning and I never wanted it to end, because it was so beautiful to look at with the gorgeous costumes and the fluid, stark dancing. What a way to put a full stop to an already highlight-packed, glimmering evening.
  8. Giselle (w/ Ida Praetorius and Andreas Kaas in the leads) was broadcast on DR K yesterday and seems to be available from the DR K website here: https://www.dr.dk/tv/se/opera-og-ballet-det-kgl-teater-tv/-/giselle-ballet-fra-det-kgl-teater I'm watching this from Denmark, so I don't know if there will be any issues with watching it from other locations around the world...
  9. I always feel extremely privileged to be able to follow the ballet as closely as I do. I'm happy to share my experiences with the people of BA!
  10. On the 17th of this month, I watched Giant Steps at the Old Stage and was very enamoured with this collection of modern masterpieces. The programme starts out with McGregor's Infra, followed by Kylián's Falling Angels and finishing off very strongly with Khan's Vertical Road. Of the three, I will have to pick Infra as the weaker link, while both Falling Angels and Vertical Road were strong, genuine and intense dance experiences, but this is not to say that Infra wasn't an entertaining piece of choreography, its very specific setting - centering on the London terror attacks - just didn't necessarily translate as directly for me as the more general themes of female existence in Falling Angels and the religious journey of Vertical Road. All in all, however, I found the picks of this collection sound, strong and thoroughly entertaining from start to finish. In Infra I was particularly swayed by Andreas Kaas and Stephanie Chen Gundorph's pas de deux and J'aime Crandall's overall performance, especially her final scene where people walk past her in normal clothes, while she just stands there and cries was extremely powerful. In Falling Angels I watched the second cast where especially Jocelyn Dolson and Marina Minoiu stood out for me, Dolson with a stark and wonderfully danced solo and Minoiu with her strong features that really burned across the stage and through the fourth wall. All in all it was really a powerful performance that stays with me even now. I could watch that choreography again and again and seeing it live only enhanced its beauty. Everybody did their very best and added to the experience for me. Finally Vertical Road ended the evening on the strongest possible note. It was definitely the strongest piece that evening. The dusty feel, the hypnotic rhythms, the perfect synched dancing and the strength of every movement, it was a masterpiece, a true masterpiece. When the ensemble first moved and the dust rose, the audience exploded in gasps and ah's, it was a magnetic moment. Sebastian Haynes danced the stranger character and did a remarkable, out of this world job of it. He's such a strong, charismatic dancer, one of my favorites amongst the men of the RDB. The way there was power, forcefulness and aggression in the ensemble dancing, opposite the searching nature of the stranger. When Haynes did those turns that made him almost blur, it went that fast, I lost my breath. I couldn't breathe, I just stared at him moving around in circles again and again and again, that in itself was like a religious experience and really conveyed the entire feel of the piece perfectly. The use of shadows against a golden-yellow-orange background was stark and left an impression of beauty, movement and darkness all at once. Khan has choreographed a true masterpiece here and the audience responded to it as such. It was no doubt the highlight of the evening. It was a very enjoyable evening that to me proved that the RDB can dance modern choreography along with the best as well as classical ballet. Did anyone else attend?
  11. I went to the premiere of this gala programme and thoroughly enjoyed myself. From start to finish, the quality of the dancing was excellent and it was lovely to hear the audience embrace the format so loudly with lots of cheering and applause, too. Of the three acts, I thought the first act with its Bournonville focus was the weakest link where Jon Axel Fransson and Kizzy Matiakis in the Wilhelm Tell PDD made for the best part with lots of high spirits and solid dancing. I think I would have loved Amy Watson and Sebastian Haynes in the Flower Festival PDD, if I didn't think the orchestra lacked finesse in the musical department and the tempo botched some parts of the dancing that I personally thought could have been spectacular, but instead seemed horribly rushed. The ballabile from Napoli was probably included to finish off strong, but the execution wasn't the best I've seen and somehow the dancing seemed out of place, outside of its context. I look forward to seeing the programme again in April, just to see if it was a one-time thing and it'll make more sense on second viewing. The second part of the evening with various PDD to show the development of the art form from romantic ballets such as Coppelia and Swan Lake to more recent works a la Balanchine and Neumeier was, as I experienced it, the best part of the evening and the gala form seemed to urge the Danish crowd to really clap and cheer. Coppelia was danced wonderfully by Silvia Selvini and Andreas Kaas - they fit each other well as dancers and were both very cute and full of energy in their dancing. I think this is one of the biggest parts yet that Selvini has danced and she really shone through with lots of personality and large-scale movements. Her sweetness radiated all the way up to where I was sitting on the 1st floor. Kaas was his usual charming self and danced on a large scale, but without ever forgetting the fun and charm of the choreography. They made for a great partnership and earned a well-deserved ovation. Ida Praetorius and Marcin Kupinski danced the Black Swan PDD and danced it very well. Expression-wise Praetorius didn't reach me all the way up to where I was sitting, but her dancing was very solid, good and sharp. Kupinski's dancing was equally solid and his solo was wonderfully executed, especially the part before the fouettes when he starts turning and the two of them, Praetorius and Kupinski, strike a rhythm that's in complete unison, it looked great. The Tchaikovsky PDD is a favourite choreographic piece for me and I had really looked forward to seeing it danced by Holly Dorger and Alban Lendorf on opening night. They made a remarkable show of it and were both strong, large-scale and precise in their dancing. Dorger had a dramatic presence in her movements that was wow-worthy, along with great musicality and some sharp legwork that was quite an inspiration to look at. Her abundance of energy and her beautiful composure could be felt all the way up to my seat and she looked completely dazzling. Lendorf was strong and precise in his dancing and danced with a high energy and struck lots of sharp poses that really earned him a great response from the audience. I was especially mesmerized by his turns that just went on and on without losing in their pacing at all. Together they were a great match and I do hope to see them dance together again in the future. Finally the second part of the evening was finished off with the balcony PDD from Neumeier's Romeo and Juliet. I was very happy to see that they didn't go for the bedchamber PDD again, because that's the one that's usually chosen and it is my least favourite, especially out of context. The balcony PDD suited the gala format quite well and was a beautiful rematch for me, danced by J'aime Crandall and Gregory Dean. They are a gorgeous match for Juliet and Romeo and their dancing really proved that they can perform young, fresh roles in a young, fresh and genuine manner. I thoroughly enjoyed their interpretations and their dancing was effortless, despite all the difficult lifts. The drama and the love in this scene came across strongly and I felt myself feeling with these young lovers, even though the scene was out of context and there would never be a resolution in this programme. I think that speaks to their dramatic skills. The programme ended with Theme and Variations that was danced by Caroline Baldwin and Jonathan Chmelensky on this night. I was happy to see these two again, because they'd improved their partnership immensely since the last time Theme and Variations was on the season programming. Baldwin danced with a regal softness that really fitted the piece and although she never quite seemed to connect fully with Chmelensky in the PDD, the dancing was very pretty and really finished the night off strongly. Chmelensky was secure and strong in his dancing, played with his energy levels constantly, going from slow to quicker to slow again and it worked very well. He's definitely one of my favourite male dancers in the company and I would love to see him made principal soon. He deserves the title and they could need another man of his talents in their principal ranks. The corps did well with the piece, danced with lots of energy and got through the steps with strength and precision, though I hope to see them dance just a bit more in synch when I go see them next - they got better and better throughout the run last time, so I'm hoping the same will happen here. All in all, I personally thought this gala programme was a big success. Have anyone else attended or will be attending one of the upcoming shows?
  12. I know Corpus is now its own company, but I didn't know where else to post this review and since Interpassivities does employ dancers from the Royal Danish Ballet, I thought the subject was well-suited enough to go here. If this is wrong, please feel free to move or delete it! That said, I witnessed something akin to a miraculous event, when I attended the combined efforts of Jesper Just and Corpus, the performance “Interpassivities” in A-salen yesterday. Within the white/black/grey color scheme of the room, six dancers (Susanne Grinder, Ulrik Birkkjær, Alexander Stæger, Jon Axel Fransson, Emma Håkansson and Camilla Ruelykke) and a handful of Polish stage hands transformed the open space into a broken landscape of pallet mounts and black holes into the floor on and in which the dancers moved about, in between the audience members who had to sometimes step aside and move away, to carefully adjust to the patterns that the dancers were dancing within. Already from the beginning, the audience were made “interpassive” as the dancers infiltrated our ranks as we all took the large lift up to A-salen. Some noticed their presence, others were unaware and quietly the dancers made ready for the performance right there among us. Once we’d been guided into the room itself, there was no going back. The dancers began warming up, sometimes leaning on a nearby bystander while doing so - I myself had the pleasure of supporting Stæger while he stretched and although it was intimate in its very nearness, it was never intrusive and I never got the feeling that the audience felt their personal sphere violated, only gently tapped as a reminder of the fourth wall and how thin it can really be. At least, that was my own experience, my nerves in regards to this new world order aside. The dancing was repetitive in quality, though not in any negative way, it was simply that the dancers repeated patterns throughout the performance and as we in the audience watched and learned, we became familiar with each dancer’s specific moving patterns. Especially those staying closest to us or those that we stayed closest to. I myself walked around within the vicinity of Grinder and Birkkjær especially, while also having Stæger and Håkansson within viewing distance at most times. I didn’t walk around as much as some, but stayed rather put throughout most of the performance, thus not getting as acquainted with Fransson’s and Ruelykke’s patterns as I might have liked, although I did see Fransson dance a PDD with either Ruelykke or Håkansson at one point that was very striking, as well as another one near the end with Grinder that involved climbing a mount of pallets with her draped across his shoulders, both beautiful and a little nerve-wracking to watch as he ascended the construction. What seemed to be a focal point for all the dancers was a slowness, almost slow-motion quality to their dancing as well as the repetitive movements, their specific patterns. They danced solo often, but also paired up in little duets and choreography between three and four people, sometimes women with women, men with men and at other times men with women. Lifts were grand and architectural in their execution, there was a lot of support carried out and then there was the sprawling… At some point near the middle of the performance, all the dancers sprawled out on the pallets and began sliding around over the wooden constructions on their backs, on their stomachs, crawling over the floor in the slowest of motion. There was a serenity and yet an unsettling vibe to this portion of the performance where they all looked like limb dolls that someone had dropped, but now had come to life. At some point the white room was cast in darkness and the video montages began, showing ballet dancers entwined in lights, I think it was. Closeup shots of their costumes and their bodies were displayed on three walls and at this point, the audience experienced a sort of night in the viewing process - they went from being pseudo-active performers in the "daylight" to just looking on again while everything went dark around them. The dancers only moved slowly across the floor. Finally the pallets were gradually returned to their rightful positions by the Polish workers and the performance ended with a row of powerful, strong pas de deux choreographies that I have already mentioned, one of them between Fransson and Grinder and another, the final one between Birkkjær and Grinder which was a very aggressive, desperate choreography full of conflict and intensity. Once that one had come to an end, the dancers simply left the room, leaving the audience behind with another video installation of someone in a tutu skirt following the border between Mexico and the US. A bell-like, heartbeat-reminiscent sound echoed between the walls as if to lull us into tranquility again and we applauded a white room and maybe we also applauded ourselves for surviving in this world that Just had created where we were all so focused on the small details, maybe symbolising the problems of everyday life, that the large whole remained nothing but film on the walls around us. The red thread in Interpassivities was definitely movement. Everything moved, the dancers, the pallets, the audience - life, the world and us living in it. Maybe the use of Polish stage hands and the video montage of the border were intended as a comment on the ability to move freely across borders, I can’t say, but I myself was more engaged in the thought of it all being an image of ourselves within a constantly changing world, the dancers showing us the repetition and the motion we undergo to navigate it. All in all, it was a very intense experience and one I won’t soon forget.
  13. I watched Dans2Go last night and had a very enjoyable evening all-together. The highlight of the evening was definitely Starpov's Beginning and Ending which I loved almost everything about. I thought it was a moving story that the choreographer had wrapped in great costumes and embraced with lovely music, his pas de deux's especially were sublime, both the PDD between the fiancee and the writer and later, the PDD between the writer and the guardian figure. Sebastian Haynes as the writer was a sight for sore eyes, the elements of dancing that the writer had were wonderfully executed and the sheer emotion that he poured into the character was palpable, visible, too, when at one point he seemed to be truly crying on stage. As the fiancee I thought Elenora Morris made a commanding, dramatic presence and as the guardian angel, Stephanie Chen Gundorph was just so amazingly beautiful and striking, especially in the mentioned PDD. I was personally in love with Heather Dunn as the forest queen who was so lovely and gentle to watch as well as the three deers, Silvia Selvini, Caroline Betancourt and Matteo Di Loreto that made an interesting and entertaining trio amidst the many formations and pairs. The ghost couple that seemed to mirror the writer and the fiancee was wonderfully danced by Viktoria Falck-Schmidt and Jon Axel Fransson. Although some of the scenes dragged on a little too long for my taste, mostly Starpov succeeded through his ability to move his formations around the stage in a very interesting and unique way. Only a few times did it seem too crowded, mostly - as in the final scene where the writer takes command over his many creations - the formations were precise and made sense, as well as how they were moving and beautiful to look at, though I myself found that I enjoyed how he worked with the pairs more than with the groups. The ghost couple, the writer and the fiancee and the writer and the guardian had incredibly poignant and forceful choreography to work with, not only step-wise, but in the sheer emotion that was required to show the characters fully, something everybody did to the fullest. As well as the PDD between the writer and the guardian angel, the scene where the writer sees all his creation march out in line in front of the backdrop like silhouettes was amazingly striking to look at as well as the final moment of that same scene where everybody strikes a still pose and fade into black silhouettes before the audience's eyes - that was just goosebumps-worthy! Starpov is undeniably a new big name on the RDB stage when it comes to choreography and as far as firsts go, this was a very solid, well-thought out and well-performed one, everyone gave it their very best and it fully deserved the standing ovation it got afterwards. My only regret was the cluster of colors, with both the costumes and the lighting being in bright and vivid color, I would maybe have preferred for the backdrop to be either in white or black to not confuse my eyes quite so much - but I'm sure there's a reason it was in color and it was definitely not so hard on the eyes that I couldn't concentrate on the rest of it, the beauty and the drama. Everything had a clear red line running through it. The first part of the evening was more good than great. Mostly I had a very tall man sitting right in front of me, blocking my view of centre stage pretty much constantly, so that took some of the joy out of it for me, but what I could see was good and entertaining. I don't personally think that the idea of updating Conservatoire is a bad one, the concept is interesting and very now, but the dancing wasn't the finest I've seen from the RDB, I think it might have been an off day. Neither Camilla Ruelykke Holst or Lena-Maria Gruber truly seemed to command the stage for me as Elisa and Victorine, though I thought Gruber's choreography was the more interesting one to watch in general. Alexander Stæger as the balletmaster was great to watch, but I only caught about half his dancing due to the big head in front of me. What I did see, though, I liked. All in all, I thought the men did really well with some great dancing from Eliabe D'Abadia, Tobias Praetorius and Liam Redhead - and especially from Alexander Bozinoff who had a solo that took my breath away at the end, it was amazing! For once, I also really enjoyed the ballet children on stage and there was one girl in particular, at the front row, that did so well, I was really impressed. So, all in all, Conservatoire yesterday was a day for the men and the children in particular and although it wasn't the best I've seen the RDB dance, it was interesting and the concept did work for me which was a relief. Last, but not least, I saw Ida Praetorius and Marcin Kupinski in Other Dances and although this choreography will never become a favourite of mine, I enjoyed the music and I thought both dancers did very well where especially Kupinski managed to bring out the spontaneity and the aspect of making it seem like he was "making up steps as he goes along", whereas Praetorius brought a lightness and a playfulness to the choreography that made up for how she didn't always seem as spontaneous as Kupinski. They both especially aced their first solos, Kupinskis first solo was a masterpiece, a masterful show of power and play with Praetorius' first solo ending on the most brilliant and the fastest note imaginable. Along the way after this point, they lost some steam and although they danced really well all way through, most of the true force and bravur feeling happened throughout the first half of the choreography. All in all, it was a very, very good piece to get to see, even if I won't go out of the way to see it again, and both Kupinski and Praetorius looked amazing in their costumes. There was only one major glitch throughout this evening where each section was introduced in interviews on a big screen - when Beginning and Ending was up, the technology had a mishap that caused the audience to sit in darkness for some time, but fortunately it was fixed at the end and we got to see interviews with Starpov himself as well as with the two main role dancers, Andreas Kaas and Sebastian Haynes. A great evening!
  14. I really look forward to catching this programme and am kind of crossing my fingers that I'll be seeing the first cast in Other Dances, Crandall especially looked absolutely stunning in the trailer. I'm curious about the choice of costume for Konservatoriet and although I can understand the critique it's earned (that the clothes don't lend to the dance style, etc.), I personally find the idea of updating the dance school setting to modern day with everything it entails very unique and interesting. Whether it works on stage, I suppose I'll get to see.
  15. Dans2Go premiering tonight on Gamle Scene. Anybody going tonight or at some other point during the run? I'll be seeing this mixed bill on the 18th of next month and I just can't wait. It'll be my first introduction to Konservatoriet (in part) by Bournonville, but I do look forward to seeing some of his choreography brought back this season and casting looks really interesting. Victorine is danced by Lena-Maria Gruber tonight and Caroline Baldwin in second cast. Eliza is danced by Camilla Ruelykke tonight and by Holly Dorger in second cast. The ballet master is Alexander Stæger and Ulrik Birkkjær. Other Dances is something I'm rather excited about, because ballet to Chopin is always a good thing. Casting hasn't gone up for all performances yet, but so far the two casts are J'aime Crandall and Gregory Dean in first cast with Ida Praetorius and Marcin Kupinski in second cast. Finally, Dans2Go will also be the world premiere of corps dancer Oliver Starpov's stunning-looking choreography Beginning and Ending which is probably the highlight for me. Photos look incredibly beautiful and the dancers seem very excited for it on Instagram, so I'm really looking forward to I get to see it in February. The cast tonight when it premieres features Andreas Kaas, Wilma Giglio, Kizzy Matiakis and Alba Nadal. Second cast features Sebastian Haynes, Elenora Morris, Stephanie Chen Gundorph and Heather Dunn. If anybody is going, let us know how it was!
  16. Dec. 17th - 5.00 pm. Saturday night I saw first cast in Alice, a cast made up of Ida Praetorius and Andreas Kaas as Alice and the Knave, Kizzy Matiakis as the Queen, Marcin Kupinski as the Rabbit, Charles Andersen as the Hatter, Sebastian Haynes as the Caterpillar and Alba Nadal as the Cook. Generally I thought the cast was well-matched and performing smoothly without incident, but the afternoon was - for me - also marked by a certain lack of interest in the two main characters, the real story seemingly revolving around the characters around them. The residents of Wonderland. The star of the night was, in my eyes, definitely Matiakis as the Queen of Hearts and Kupinski as the White Rabbit. Kupinski especially just took me by complete surprise and knocked my socks off. His dancing looked rapid and yet defined, very crisp, and his acting was amazing. From the balcony and despite the heavy makeup, his face and expressions read very clearly. His Rabbit was busy, focused and yet very swayed by Alice. He managed some very good partnering touches with Praetorius and in this you could tell they have danced together in technical heavy-weights like Don Q and Swan Lake. Some of the best partnering of the evening happened between these two. Opposite of his good-natured Rabbit stands Matiakis' Queen who was pure evil. She was a colder and sharper Queen than Grinder's last Sunday and reminded me a lot of the one on the DVD from Royal Ballet. Constantly changing in mood and going from laughing to grimazing in the blink of an eye, her manic back and forth in attitude was really scary and well done. From the moment the third act started, it was Matiakis time with two well-performed solos where especially the tart adagio brought the house down, so funny was it. The entire party was danced well by Matiakis and she brought home all the points with her fluid and clear expressions. Also, she aced the cartwheel - smooth transition, superbly incorporated in the sequence. Andersen was an outstanding Hatter who stepdanced with some amazing strength and musicality. I did miss Dean's expressions a bit, but instead Andersen defined the Hatter's crazy through his movements and more than anything, his dancing became a language on its own. His interaction with his two partners in crime was great and a lot of fun to watch. I really loved the entire scene and so did the audience. What an applause he received after his final solo, so well executed. Haynes was in his zone as the Caterpillar last night. He danced smoothly and with a very defined, intense expression on his face the entire time. Did some languidly rolling movements and with very fluid transitions between. He was amazing. I just love watching him dance. As the Cook, Nadal wasn't an extreme in the same way Fontana was in the role, but she was still hilarious and both acted and danced with a hint of darkness that suited the character well and added depth to the humour. As the Knave, Kaas danced at his absolute best, especially in his solo variations. What power and force he dances with, yet how softly and smoothly he moves. However, his Knave somehow seemed less defined in character than Chmelensky's and thus, the character really proved itself one of the least developed in Wheeldon's heavy arsenal. As Alice Praetorius had some outstanding moments and some fun expressions, especially her racing scene with the animals was pure gold and so well executed that it didn't end up confusing the eye. The wow moment was at the court scene, however, where she offers herself instead of the Knave, that simple gesture was so powerful. Still, altogether I didn't think her dancing was at its best and especially the partnering in the two first acts looked a little difficult and surrounded by so many Wonderland characters, her Alice paled a little. Finally, shout-out to Tobias Praetorius and Liam Redhead as the fish and the frog where especially Redhead shone. Gigantic jumps and funny interaction for all it was worth. A full afternoon in a great company. Dec. 18th - noon The cast that graced the stage Sunday noon created the complete experience that really was the perfect Alice to end this run with for me. Holly Dorger was an amazing Alice who really held the stage and beyond great acting also conveyed Wheeldon's language of choreography to perfection from where I sat. Her dancing was at its finest, but more than anything it was the rounded, interesting and complex character that she created which left me mesmerized. Her Alice was spunky, temperamental, but also gentle and sensitive towards others. The link between Wonderland and her own reality never disappeared from sight, as Dorger expertly showed how Wonderland wasn't just wonderful, but at times also confusing and frightening. In her solos she was sharp and energetic, though I particularly loved the quieter, moving "who are you?" solo in... act II, I think? The one right after she longs for her sisters. Because Dorger truly added layers to Alice, she never stopped being a young girl, not in her relation to the Knave either, but she had depth and so many emotions, beautifully conveyed in acting and dance. It's difficult to choose anything in particular, because it was all so incredibly well executed, but I thought her garden party scene in act I was well-tied together by Dorger's presence and probably the most coherent one I've seen yet. Besides that I need to comment on how well matched Gregory Dean was as the Knave opposite Dorger's Alice. Not just dancing-wise where they were well-suited for each other, with the same rounded and warm air, but his boyish and gentle Knave fit her portrayal of Alice like a glove. I really loved them together and hope to see them dance together again in the future. Their PDDs were smoothly danced and the lifts generally felt like a breeze for Dean who seems a strong partner to have. Solo he was also perfect for the role, making the Knave very princely and sweet, without rendering him boring. Dean really has presence when dancing and his solo during the flower waltz was out of this world. Altogether the Knave still isn't the most interesting danseur role, but I'll take him over the Cavalier any day - and Dean made him likeable and managed to make sense of the PDD's like none of the other casts I've seen. Suddenly the way the Knave pulled Alice by the waist while she bent over made sense to me, also due to Dorger's gorgeous arms. As the White Rabbit Jon Axel Fransson was truly in his element yesterday. Even more so than last Sunday. His interaction with Dorger's Alice was equal parts endearing and hilarious. He wasn't just sweet to her, but often genuinely annoyed and really too busy to take care of her. Their scene in the boat was amazing! But also in general Fransson had been generous with the details in his acting and although his dancing didn't look quite as sharp to me as Kupinski's, he danced with the same explosive energy that defined the entire cast and constantly moved with a sort of frenzy or stress. It was the perfect portrayal. With Amy Watson still out, J'aime Crandall - my beautiful first Alice - took on the role of Queen of Hearts. Her Queen was very different from both Grinder's and Matiakis', neither sharply smiling nor coldly evil, but she danced the Queen with a sassy attitude and an almost coquettish air about her, like she owned the room she was in and loved all the attention. More subdued in her expressions than the two other Queens, she wasn't as overtly funny as them, her comedic timing didn't always seem to sit with the audience, mostly - I think - because she was so fast in her movements, in her "delivery". However, I think especially her court scene solo was pretty amazing to watch and as soon as she started leaping around with the axe, her force and precision made her extremely scary. I really did like her Queen and thought she had some great moments, when the guards forgot her on her throne centre stage, her reaction was priceless. After Alice has tumbled over the entire deck, but the Queen managed to stay on her feet, her smugness was so funny. All minor details that made her a good, entertaining, if not the most outstanding Queen. Particular shout-outs otherwise to Alexander Bozinoff and Samuel Zaldivar as the fish and the frog, they were an amazing duo and really delivered sharp dancing and, from Zaldivar's frog, incredibly leaps, wow. Also to Haynes who, for the third time, delivered an intense caterpillar and to Charles Andersen who really had great interaction with Alexander Stæger and Tobias Praetorius as his sidekicks, but wasn't quite as sharp in his step dance as yesterday. However, I still found that the entire scene with the Mad Hatter was well-executed and made perfect sense in all its crazy, perhaps also because of Dorger's Alice and the way she interacted with the rest of the cast. Finally I need to mention Morten Eggert and Kizzy Matiakis as the Duchess and the Cook, they were a powerhouse of a combination where especially Eggert as the Duchess shone and gave the character a lot of life and likeability. I constantly found my eyes returning to her on the stage and in his interaction with Matiakis in the slaughterhouse scene, he portrayed her as genuinely scary, becoming gradually more sympathetic as the show progressed. All in all, a perfect way to spend the afternoon and initiate Christmas. I loved everone and everything about it. Just the full package of a performance. Bravo!
  17. Congratulations to Mr Bozinoff! I was really touched by his reaction in the video that the theatre put online. I suppose that they could be trying to fill up the male soloist ranks young, since quite a few severely underused or older men have sat there for a while, thinking Stæger and Hansen here, plus Matiakis who recently retired. Not to mention that if Hübbe eventually promotes someone like Jonathan Chmelensky, Jon Axel Fransson or even Andreas Kaas to principal to cover for the half-spot that Lendorf's work with the ABT has left behind and there's an abundance of female principals now to partner, then they will indeed need more male soloists, too. Now I'm just waiting for the same to happen with the female soloist ranks, because with all the principal promotions, they could really use some new female soloists!
  18. On my way home from RDB's Alice. I don't really consider myself a huge fan of the ballet, but after tonight I still find myself looking forward to two more visits to Wonderland. I caught the fourth cast with J'aime Crandall, Jonathan Chmelensky, Jon Axel Fransson and Susanne Grinder in the main roles. It was a well-oiled cast with quite a lot of beautiful character work going for them. Crandall aced the "little girl" aspect of Alice and created a nuanced, quirky character with lots of amazingly funny moments. Especially her first act was strong on comedy. Throughout her dancing was very smooth and looked its usual flawless self to me which was nice. Her interaction with every other character on the stage was rich in detail and you never lost sight of the girl she was portraying, in the midst of special effects and spectacle. Especially her chemistry with Chmelensky's Jack was touching and sweet, never creepy, Alice's age considered. I loved Chmelensky as Jack and thought he brought out an extra dimension to an otherwise rather flat character. He had a wonderful, endearing smile on his face as soon as Crandall was around, but covered the full range in expressions otherwise. He danced well, partnered Crandall with only one obviously wobbly lift and his solo in the court scene was remarkable. He's one of my favourite men in the company right now and he really did this role justice. Fransson as the White Rabbit was a real treat, it was wonderful to see him back from his injury. His dancing was good, but what really sold me on his Rabbit was how sympathetic and warm a character he made of him. He liked Alice. Felt a connection to her, a responsibility for her. When she did her little acts of kindness, it softened him visibly. It was a very lovely interpretation of their relation and it worked between Crandall and him. As the Mad Hatter, Gregory Dean seemed slightly pale. His dancing didn't all-over burn through the way it usually does when he dances ballet, but his expressions were perfect and he poured a lot of strength into distinguishing his character's madness and made him very funny. His final solo in the teapot scene was also really good and drew out a spontaneous applause from an otherwise rather quiet audience. Sebastian Haynes was amazing as the caterpillar. Very sensual and mysterious. His dancing was languid and sort of... outdrawn. His makeup with the beard also really suited him and he had a rather mature air about him. Kaledora Fontana danced the cook and was absolutely spectacular. She was manic and frantic, rather violent and scary, too. People seemed to love her. I was very impressed with her and thought it was a stellar performance with lots of star power, forcefulness and humour. She had no problem going for ugly faces or being silly. Grinder as the Queen of Hearts was a masterpiece. She was all smiles and sudden mood changes. She wasn't the typical bitch, but she definitely made it work. Her Queen ruled by emotional manipulation and by others' fear of her whims. As the mother she enjoyed the attention of everybody else but her husband and her Queen was much the same. She wasn't overtly irritated with him or constantly mean to him, but she obviously didn't think he was enough for her. Her dancing in the tart adagio was elegant in its choreographed failure and hysterically funny, but her solo in the court scene was really what took the cake. I can't even describe it, she was just so full of energy and owned the stage in all her crazy. People loved her and so did I. All in all it was a solid, entertaining performance and I really fell for its charms. Very excited to see the Praetorius and Dorger casts next weekend.
  19. Did anyone attend the premiere yesterday? General consensus on Instagram seems to be a big success! I won't be seeing the production myself until next Sunday, so I'm excited to hear what people thought, if they went!
  20. Picture gallery is up, once again without naming the dancers and in those costumes, it can be hard telling them apart, but generally I think they're really nice pictures - I was especially fond of a picture of Jon Axel Fransson's White Rabbit, amazing facial expressions.
  21. I agree 100 percent, I'd give my right hand to see her in that role. Other than that, I'll be catching the Praetorius/Kaas cast on the 17th and the Dorger/Dean cast on the 18th and I'm really looking forward to both.
  22. The blonde willie was Astrid Elbo and the dark-haired one, Elenora Morris, according to the program that I just fished out of my collection. I was particularly fond of Morris myself, I thought she had a gripping and very precise way of moving. Thank you for your thoughts, Anne, they were as always very informative! I couldn't agree with you more about especially Matiakis who was sublime, but also one of my favorite male dancers, Chmelensky, those two were respectively the highlights of the second and first acts for me, although the entire show was good. Hopefully I'll be ready to write some more thoughts down soon, when they've marinated a bit longer.
  23. Did anyone else go see the cinema broadcast or saw the show at the theatre?
  24. We attended the performance yesterday. Despite it being a full house, we'd gotten really good seats on the second row. First act didn't work for me quite as effortlessly as last time, I think it was J'aime Crandall's characterisation opposite Gregory Dean's very sympathetic Albrecht - her expressions weren't quite innocent enough to convince me that her Giselle really didn't know Albrecht's secret and although I bought Dean's Albrecht as a nobel who just wanted to have fun, he seemed too caring to really be so careless with her feelings in the matter. However, the dancing was generally very beautiful, at least looked that way to me, very sharp and secure. Both Dean and Crandall are such strong dancers with very complimenting expressions. I saw them together in La Sylphide when it was on tour - a stellar performance and they didn't fit each other any less here. I really think they're a match to be developed. For me, the greatest aspects of Crandall's first act Giselle was her focus on the character's illness and then, of course, her beautiful and very cleanly performed mad scene. I was crying a little when the lights went up. Other shout-outs for the first act go to Lis Jeppesen as Giselle's mother. What a beautifully performed and deeply gripping character performance. She owned every moment that featured her in just the slightest. Jonathan Chmelensky made a strong and commanding Hilarion, although his real moment to shine didn't come until the second act. Heather Dunn and Alexander Bozinoff were wonderful in the peasant pas de deux and both hit some goosebump-inducing marks. However, the real thrill of tonight's performance was the second act. It was hauntingly beautiful, both danced and performed with striking clarity of movement and story-development. Once again, Amy Watson was Myrtha and she really did float in the air like a ghost queen. She did some striking solos and one of her - I think it was some kind of coda, please don't hold me up on it, though - was just breathtaking in its execution. She was on an absolute high tonight and I was so glad to see these two performances of hers, to fully appreciate her strengths as a dancer. Both Kizzy Matiakis and Caroline Baldwin danced some eerie and airy-light variations as first willis, where especially Matiakis seemed to master the steps with a great superiority and elegance. The corps also did really well as the willis and once again created an eerie, ghostly atmosphere. I really do like the use of the doors, especially those in the back, I think they function well in the setting and seeing those willis enter really made my blood run cold, both times I've seen it now. Chmelensky delivered a completely awe-inspiring death/demise scene as Hilarion. His high leaps and powerful jumps were of another world, not to mention the utter despair written all over his face. It was chilling. A very, very strong performance and one of the night's real highlights. A whole row of highlights were delivered by Crandall and Dean who truly brought out the tragic beauty in this act. From the moment Giselle was turned into a willi, Crandall bending almost to the ground before doing some speedy turns on one foot, she simply turned into a dancer of another calibre. Of another essence. She floated like air across the stage and when Dean lifted her above his head the first time it was without a single wobble. His arms stretched, she just hang there like an otherworldly being. I was so immensely impressed with her, it was a stunning feat how she performed Giselle as a willi. Dean also really shone and his endless jump up and down sequence was effortless and very impressive to witness, I wanted to start applauding him halfway through! At the end, he also really nailed the scene where Giselle keeps returning to him with flowers before dawn and there was an air of realisation, awareness about him that ended the performance on a hopeful note. All in all, I was a very happy balletomane, when returning to our hotel.
  25. I wouldn't be surprised, if the Knave turned out to be Marcin Kupinski, either... He and Praetorius have been partners just as often as Kaas and Praetorius. I'm really looking forward to Alice. It's a performance I'm not at all familiar with, I've still only seen clips on YouTube. My parents, my girlfriend and I are seeing the afternoon performance on the 17th, I'm sure it'll be a wonderful show fit for the holidays with lots of child-like wonder. Also, I'm just so amazingly happy that Kizzy Matiakis got Queen of Hearts, I'm sure she'll be terrific!
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