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About Anne

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    amateur ballettraining as a child and a youth and now an enthusiastic balletgoer
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  1. Anne

    Liam Scarlett's Queen of Spades for the RDB

    Yes, the reviews were indeed very good, and of course it is some kind of event, when a wellknown choreographer creates a full-length ballet especially for our company. I saw it and was impressed but never moved by it. I liked the inventiveness of Liam Scarlett's choreography, though he couldn't keep up the steem all the time, especially the last scene where Hermann goes mad seemed to go on endlessly. I was surprised, that Scarlett in many ways was so conventional, especially in his pas de deux's: Very much of "man lifting and supporting woman". Most convincing actually was his ensembles and corps dances, for some choreographers, like Ashton and MacMillan, often the weakest parts. But Scarlett has an eye for creating surprising and "edgy" movements and patterns for a large group of dancers, and they are not only visually interesting but also creating meaning and telling stories. The decor was perhaps what made the experience such a cold one. A huge steel and glass construction lit up by harsh white or greyish light was moved up and down and around the stage to etablish different locations, but without ever looking like anything but a large steel and glass construcion. Andreas Kaas had the leading role as Hermann. He is a very able dancer but his acting still remains, to me at least, somewhat external. He is often pairing Ida Praetorius, and I hope her naturalness and expressiveness will rob off onto him with time. She was an endearing and very touching Liza. Kitty Mathiakis was an impressive Queen of Spades, but the role and the heavy mask-like make-up didn't give her much opportunity to act, neither did the costume leave her much space to dance. The music was by Tschaikovsky, or so the programme said... Well, in a way it was, it just didn't sound like him. Martin Yates has made a patchwork of mostly lesser known music by Tshcaikovsky, and he has orchestrated, recomposed and chained it together it in his own way, rather heavy handed and very far from the original. Being very familiar with Tschaikovkys music, I had sometimes problems recognizing his music. But as theatrical music it worked out fine. Like Lanchbery's adaptions of Massenet's music works well in MacMillan's Manon without ever sounding much like Massenet. Sometimes adaptions of this brutal kind work better on the stage, than more true- to the-original scores where the length of the individual sections of the music is often at odds with the dramatic flow.
  2. Anne

    Is Bournonville Still Alive?

    I have followed this thread from the sideline, not sure whether I could add anything new after having read the interviews with and the articles by Alexander Meinertz. I think his views are absolutely to the point regarding the state of the RDB under Hübbe's reign, and especially Hübbe's handling of the Bournonville heritage. Meinertz' statement at the end of his article "Hübbe's Company" could have been mine, only better worded: I went to only one performance during the festival and I had chosen the "Bornonvilleana" which was the second night of the festival. The festival programme as a whole was extremely thin, embarrassing so. Unfortunately the Bournonvilleana was a rather tame affair, too, reducing Bournonville to a series of solos and ensembles taken out of their context, with only the finale of Napoli in a staged version. The rest was danced on a bare stage with an oldfashioned onesided theatre curtain as the only backdrop. After the overture from La Sylphide the curtain rose to reveal the corps clad in the plain gray costumes from Hübbe's version of the very same ballet, dancing the reel. In Hübbe's version the happy scotsmen are replaced by unhappy scotsmen, afraid of both love and life. The contrast between the festive music and the gloomy visual impression was even more shocking and absurd here, seen as it was out of context. The story was left out and the reel thus turned into pure dance. This turned out to be symptomatic of the evening: An hommage to Bournonville, the step-maker. After "Pas de Vestale", an extremely difficult pas de deux preserved in one of the Bournonville Schools, a series of male variations from famous pas de deux's took place, probably in order to demonstrate the versatility of male dance in Bournonville's oeuvre. But you couldn't help feeling fobbed off when offered only a single male variation from "The Flowerfest of Genzano" at a Bournonville Gala! The programme went on in this manner for a long time, a lot of steps without a story, until suddenly, before the second and last intermission, we had the finale of La Sylphide, with witch, assisting sylphs and everything, but still no props. These finally came on for the last act of Napoli. The pas de six and the following solos were danced with much youthful temperament and charm but not with much individuality. I miss the changing tempi and free phrasing which characterized the generation of dancers from the last festival 13 years ago. Now it is all very quick and efficient, no sophistications, like dragging time by lying behind the beat or otherwise play with our expectations. The tarantella was initiated by a couple of young dancers with an almost aggressive energy, and that laid the style for rest, the ballet ending in total hip-swaying abandon. Never has Act III looked more like rock'n roll. It was on purpose when above I said "step-maker" and not choreographer, because that is what Hübbe reduced Bournonville to on that occasion. And unfortunately not only on this occasion. Alexander Meinertz brings it to the point, what is wrong with the way the Bournonville legacy is handled today. I highly recommend reading the interview and the article in their full length. I totally agree with his point of view, and it actually makes me very sad to admit it, because, like others, I had great hopes when Hübbe took over the company a decade ago. Especially after having seen his production of La Sylphide in 2003, where he really brought life from within to this classic, without killing it first, like he did in his second and disastrous production in 2015 which I have written about earlier on this site. Hübbe's productions are more Hübbe than they are Bournonville. He keeps saying that he shows Bournonville respect by challenging him and "wrestling" with him, but when asked what exactly it is he values so highly, it always boils down to the steps. Hübbe adores the musicality of Bournonvilles choreography, and I believe him, when he says so, but the romantic and dramatic spirit in which the ballets - and the steps - are conceived seems to be indigestable to him. And in stead of leaving the job of directing them to someone else, who doesn't have these reservations, he just peals off the layers he doesn't like and adds some he personally thinks is more interesting. The problem is that what he removes is not the outer layers but actually the very core of the ballets. Meinertz puts it this way:
  3. Eva Kistrup has some more news on this appointment in on her blog: "Breaking News! Andreas Kaas made principal dancer". And earlier this spring Kistrup had an interesting interview with Andreas Kaas, just after he returned from a guest stay with the Marinsky ballet : Interview "In all, Andreas Kaas is having a fabulous season. He is practically dancing all the male leads in the RDB season. Following a Kylian programme, he has the leading male role in “Raymonda” + the role of Beranger, “The Nutcracker”, ”Swan Lake” and “Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux”. He is currently learning the leading male role for Liam Scarlett’s creation for RDB, a ballet based on Pushkin’s “Queen of Spades”.
  4. After his performance as Hermann in Liam Scarletts Queen of Spades last night Andreas Kaas was promoted to solo dancer, the highest rank in the RDB. The announcement was made on stage by Nikolaj Hubbe to standing ovations from a cheering audience. Congratulations, Andreas!
  5. New York Times had an obituary yesterday: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/21/obituaries/nini-theilade-dancer-in-reinhardts-dream-dies-at-102.html?emc=edit_th_180222&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=60038520
  6. In the Danish newspaper "Jyllands-Posten" an obituary was brought today. Unfortunately you cannot read the obituary if you are not a subscriber, but i link to it anyway, as you can see an absolutely lovely picture of the grand old lady with one of her colleagues at the school "Oure Sport & Performing Art", where she taught till she was 98: Obituary of Nini Theilade
  7. Nini Theilade, a Danish dancer, born in Indonesia in 1915 by a Danish father and a mother of German, French, Polish and Indian origin, has died peacefully on February 13, 102 years old. The family returned from Indonesia to Denmark when she was still a child, as her mother, herself a dancer, wished to develop Nini's obvious dance talent. However, Nini was rejected by the Royal Danish School of Ballet, but her ambitious mother didn't give up and brought her to Paris where she came to study with Lubov Egorova. Nini's natural talent and slightly exotic beauty made the way for her to the stage at a very early age. She was only 14 when she started touring all the big cities in Europe with the company of Carina Ari. In 1931, now 16 years old, she was engaged by Max Reinhardt who used her in various productions. Most spectacular was her appearance as fairy in his Hollywood production of A Midsummer Night's Dream in 1935. Back in Europe she toured from 1938-40 with Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo where Massine created many of his choreographies directly for her. During WW2 she stranded in Brazil, where she also met her first husband, but in 1950 she returned to Denmark, invited by Harald Lander to make a couple of choreographies for the RDB, where he was ballet master at the time. After 1965 she stayed in Denmark more permantly, establishing herself as a teacher and choreographer, and in 1969 she founded her own dance company and ballet academy on Thurø, a small island south of Funen. After a period of financial problems, she closed the academy and in 1968 and went to Lyon, where she was invited to open a new ballet academy, which came to bear her name: "Academi de ballet Nini Theilade". 1990 she returned to Denmark where she stayed till her recent death. She remained a major source of inspiration for young dancers, actors and gymnastics both as a teacher and as a choreographer. She split her time between being a ballet pedagogue at the Stately Theatre School in Odense on Funen and being a beloved drama and movement teacher for young people at the famous Schools of Gymnastics in Oure (the official English name of the school is "Oure Sport & Performing Art"), also on Funen. Here she taught dance lessons till she was 98, still going strong, and only stopping because of a nasty fall in 2013. She has been portrayed lovinglyby Lone Falster in a documentary called "Nini" in 2009, and she was interviewed for a book by Lone Kühlmann in 2006 with the title "Dansen var det hele værd" - "The dance was worth it all" (my translation"). I found a short obituary in English here: Obituary in English by Rhett Bartlett
  8. On her blog, Eva Kistrup has just posted an interesting interview with dancer Emma Riis-Kofoed, the last apprentice having joined the company: Interview
  9. New York Times Online had an article last week on partnership: "How Dance Partners Create Chemistry Onstage". Three couples were portrayed, among them the two principals Alban Lendorf and Isabella Boylston on Amercian Ballet Theatre. It is interesting to read what makes a good partnership. Isabelle Boylston says: “I feel like Alban is a really gifted partner. And when you’re good at something, you get into a positive feedback loop. As your confidence grows, your partnering abilities grow along with it.” You can read the full article by Marina Harss here: How Dance Partners Create Chemistry Onstage
  10. ABT has showcased Alban Lendorf performing part of Rachmaninov's 'Prelude in C sharp minor - not as a dancer but as a pianoplayer: https://www.facebook.com/AmericanBalletTheatre/videos/10154964469601858/ He seems to be a really multitalented person!
  11. Anne

    RDB's new Giselle

    The transmission will be online until April 8.
  12. Almost everybody with a name in the world of arts frequented Bounonville's home, which was famous for its hospitality. His wife Helene kept an album amicorum (a blank book in which autographs, drawings, poems, etc. from visitors of the house were collected). The album contains contributions from among others Hans Christian Andersen, Bertel Thorvaldsen and the composers Niels W Gade (quoting the Bridal Walz from "A Folk Tale") and J.P.E. Hartmann (quoting "The Valkyrie"), The album was exhibited at the Bournonville Festival in 2005 in Bournonville's own home in Fredensborg, and the unique book was shortly after aquired by the Royal Danish Library. It has been made accessible online on the homepage of the Royal Danish Library: Helene Bournonville's Album (follow the link with the words "Se stambogen her"). Of special interest for ballet fans are also two drawings by Edvard Lehmann which illustrate scenes from the Bournonville ballets "The Conservatoire" and "La Ventana".
  13. Anne

    RDB's new Giselle

    I have to mention one thing more, concerning the transmission: The filming was fantastic this time! I was so frustrated after seing Napoli and Swan Lake, that I expected the worst. But this time the cameras followed the essential parts of the drama, and also respected that sometimes the dance has first priority and must be in focus. It wasn't cut to pieces so that you loose every sense of direction and space.
  14. Anne

    RDB's new Giselle

    Thank you, Syrene, for telling me who was the two sole willies (with the new homepage of the RDB it is impossibel to do detective "after-work", ifyou wish to identify a dancer whos hasn't been named in the programme: no pictures of the dancers, no biographies - and the picture galleries are, like Jane Simpson mentioned above, uncaptioned. Total anonymity!). It was the dark one I liked very much, too. She is at the same time precise, as you say, defining every movement with grace and claríty, and soft and expressive. I think she was nearly perfect for that specific dance style. She is a newcomer to the company I can see. I hope we will see more of her!
  15. Anne

    RDB's new Giselle

    I went, and I was happy I did! My expectations were rather low because I hadn't been too happy with the photographs I'd seen. I'm still not in love with the costumes in act 1. Giselle's dress looks more like the costume of a water nymph from 2nd act of "Napoli", and the attire of the aristocratic ladies makes them look like enormous, colourful beetles dressed up for a horse ride with their funny looking jockey caps. But apart from all that the overall aesthetic impression is very beautiful, though maybe a little too much on the gloomy side in the first half of act 1 where the music is still optimistic, simple and happy. But this sinister, artificial and slightly claustrophobic scenery harmonizes well with what happens later when everything, literally, falls apart and reveals a barren landscape: a world somewhere between cityscape and landscape, between indoor and outdoor. The willies are not far away in the forest - they are much closer, right behind you, maybe even in your own back yard: the black doors in the backdrop gauze are not doors through which you can escape, no, they are doors through which the willies enter your world, and from them there is no escape - except through forgiving and eternal love, as represented by Giselle. The barren landscape behind the stage is changing all the time, and I would love to see it again to be able to find out exactly why it changes at certain times. At one point what in the beginning looks like a battlefield from WW1 with naked trees on a blurred background suddenly lights up and reveals a breathtakingly beautiful mountain landscape bathed in a red-golden light. I cannot remember what exactly happened in this rather short moment where the claustrophobic room opened up to a wide, beautiful but still bleak mountain world. Maybe somebody can help? The willies of this production are the most scary ones I have experienced, and not because the look revengeful, many of them did, but more because they looked so completely frozen with grief. This was clearly visible in the expressive eyes of Kizzi Mattiakis' Myrtha. When I saw her in the former production of Giselle she was more the icy bitch, but her Myrtha here simply cannot do anything else than what she does: Torture and kill men, maybe to relieve herself from the pain that doesn't give her a moment's rest and kills any other feeling in her. Ida Praetorius was a very young Giselle, still a girl prone to giggles but in any other aspect an endearing creature with a healthy appetite for life. She is a wonderful dancer who moves with a charming ease and lightness and who has a refreshing artlessness to her manners. I'm sure she has potential to develop even further, and comes time she hopefully gets the boldness to play more with the steps, daring to either drag or fasten the phrases, to postpone the ending of a movement or a balance till the very last moment - all these things that give the dance light and shadow. I think she has it in her, this deep musicality, which allows for irregularities without being tasteless. Around her evolve other talented dancers: Sebastian Haynes as a very sympathetic Hilarion, who is very much like herself, and therefore stands no chance when Andreas Kaas' Albrecht turns up with his cunning manners and expert courtship. This Albrecht is not a villain but he knows what he does and has just not thought very much about the consequences. His grief and his remorse is true and one hopes for him that his nightly experience with the willies and the enduring and rescuing love of Giselle will give him the freedom to choose his own life - and hopefully another wife than Femke Mølbach's calculating and blasée Bathilde. Both Haynes and Kaas have an enormous capacity for bouncing and floating on the air, which is asked for in the 2nd act. They are lovely dancers, and so is Jonathan Chmelensky who partnered the equally delightful Caroline Baldwin in the peasant pas de deux in act 1. After the transmission I had hoped for a cast list but it ran over the screen so quickly that no one had a chance to read it: It is an insult to the dancers! I would very much like to know who danced the two solo willies. One of them was particularly good. Can anybody help?