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Star Dancers in Aarhus


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I am attending a performance in Aarhus, our second largest city on monday with the followwing programme:

Apollon: Hübbe, Schandorff, Gad, Cavallo

Don Quicote Pas de Deux: Alina Cojacaru, Johan Kobborg

Kopano? Ballet I never heard about with dancers I never heard about

In the middle somewath elevated pas de deux, Schandorff, Greve

Romeo & Juliet (MacMillan) Cojocaru, Kobborg

Napoli Act Three: Thomas Lund, Schandorf, Cavalo,Gad, Greve

Mads Blangstrup is also on the cast list but not assigned to any of the ballets (?)

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I found a little note in Jyllands-Posten but do go to www.musikhusetaarhus.dk there is more information. You can also boy tickets online the max price is 310 DKK. There is a train going back to Copenhagen at 23.00 h, so it can be done as a one day trip.

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But you'd also get Schandorff and Gad (she adds, helpfully). I do know how you feel. I once drove to a city only 2 and a half hours away (but we did have to start at 7:00 in the morning) to see a dance that Ruth Andrien (one of Paul Taylor's finest dancers, IMO) had choreographed for students. It was six minutes long.

If anyone does go (to Arhus, of course) I hope you'll report.

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Alexandra, you are right about Schandorff and Gad but I see them all the time in Copenhagen. I very seldom miss a performance when my beloved Schandorff is on. She was wonderful as usual last night in "In the Middle, somehwat elevated" with Kenneth Greve. I will see Gad tomorrow in "Manon" and Schandorff in "La Sylphide" on Saturday. I was lucky to see Alina Cojocaru in her Onegin performances here last year.

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I would love to see Gad in "Manon" -- I would expect her to be very good in that, because she could get at the greed as well as the goodness (and I find her dancing very musical). I do hope you'll tell us about all of these. Gad and Schandorff, and Greve, too, aren't well known enough here. Had the gods been kinder (meaning had all the political turmoil not happened), Gad and Schandorff would have been counted among the great European ballerinas. Whatever did happen to Michelle Larsen? :wink:

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Responses - Michelle Larsen left to join The Schaufuss ballet. I am not certain that she still dances.

Re. Manon This is the first major role Rose Gad have done since returning from maternaty leave. She is good of certain parts,but she should have had the part, when Frank Andersen first considered the work. As the story goes he has scheduled a metting with MacMillan on the very day of his death. No she is a bit on the mature side, and as is the case with many of her parts, Schandorff does it better. Rose is dancing with Mads Blangstrup, who on paper should be our ideal de Grieux, but he is somewhat overwhelmed by the Dowell specialities in the solos. What it would really like is to see the younger ballerina Bojesen and Lindström as Manon, both espicially Lindström was great in Onegin.

I never seen the poodles, but I am certain that the season is over as TIVOLI Friheden is only open during the summer season.

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Back from Aarhus, I hasten to bring my report. It was a night of superb dancing. It was a night of mediocre dancing. It was a night of masterpieces. It was a night of awfull choreography. It turned out to be a programme produced by Peter Bo Bendixen and build around a group of South African dancers, with financial support from a cultural exchange programme. How someone ever got the idea that by setting the SA dancers ,including a piece of awfull local choreography, in the middle of some of the best dancers of RDB, NYCB and Royal Ballet would benefit them or indeed the audience puzzles me.

The evining began with a glorious Apollon with Hübbe, Schandorff, Gad and Cavallo. Although it was evident that Hubbe is losing power, he still possesses personality and a third dimention in his dancing paired with a good understanding of the part. Of the women, Schandorff was classes above the other two. Yes she does have the meatier part, but everything was done surperbly and she almost dominated Hubbe in the pas de deux. I question the decision of Cavallo and especially Gad to share the stag with Schandorff, as she so clearly out dances them. Gad in particular look far from her best. She had battled injuries, as shown in a tv special, and she is very dedicated and hard working, but at present she could hardly hold an arabesque.

Next number was Don Q. with Kobborg and Alina C. She was fantastic and he was good, with out dazzling. He is a dancer, whom I have almost found it difficult to admire mostly due to lack of line. I have seen better from other Danish and international dancer, but she really managed to make a Kitri, that was neither vulgar nor external. Quite a feat.

Second part started with the local SA ballet, danced to African drums, then Mozart, and then Mozart and African drum together. Although the piece only lasted 18 minutes, that cast had four full costume changes. Do not ask me to interpret the ballet. It was just awfull, and the dancers were bland and not very suited to each other. It was followed by Scandorff and Kenneth Greve in a pas de deux from In the Middle Somewhat Elevanted, Dynamic and very well danced. Alina C and Kobborg then did the pas de deux from MacMillan Romeo & Juliet. Again she was the better dancer and actor of them

Producing any ballet gala in Denmark, it seems to be obligatory to end the programme with Napoli III act and also this programme. I wish they had not. The SA dancers were dancing the pas de six with Cavallo and Gad and one of them was also put in charge of second male solo. The girls were ok, The men awful. Thomas Lund did first male solo, but without his usual aplomb. Kenneth Greve, who may harbor a desire to dance Gennaro, tried energitically to fill the part. I am an ardent admirer of his, but it was evident that Gennaro neither suited his type or size (he stands almost two meter or 6.6). Hubbe and Kobborg was left to beat the tamborines and dance a small tarantella version. It was evident that the hope was to made some kind of fusion, but the result showed why a director, rather than dancers should take care of casting.

Could we make a national request for a supplementary final ballet for mixed programmes in Denmark. I love Napoli III but I am so tired of seing thes mixmatched, underrehearsed versions. In all I felt the trip well spent, and it left me admiring more than before, opended my eyes on certain limitations.

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Second part started with the local SA ballet, danced to African drums, then Mozart, and then Mozart and African drum together.

Must be a trend -- Val Caniparoli choreographed a ballet to a mixture of Bach and African drums called "Lambarena," which is also the name of the musical piece. It premiered at San Francisco Ballet. Pacific Northwest Ballet also performed it, and it's listed in the repertoire of American Repertory Ballet, in Princeton, NJ.

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There's a Danish-South African connection these days. I believe Thomas Lund has staged some Bournonville for a company there (I'm forgetting which one) and Greve was to choreograph a ballet this year.

Thank you for the report -- glad it was worth the trip. Mostly :) (I love your opening lines -- very Dickensian!)

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There is some links, but allthoigh I can see how it can benefit the SA dancers to learn from the Royal Danish Ballet, I still question the need to tour, when there still is so little quality to show. Some of the women were ok, but the men were sub standard. They better stay at home and practise

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I agree, but sometimes those things happen -- a dancer works with a company, likes the dancers -- as dancers and/or as people -- and so invites them to tour. Or likes the piece (whether we do or not!) and thinks it's a good idea to include it.

Sometimes, too, it's not obvious how out of step a piece like that will be until it's taken out of the context in which it was originally seen (in this case, SA) and put down next to something else. Remember how many critics (in London as well as Copenhagen) loved Schaufuss's La Sylphide when they saw it with English National Ballet -- partly because foreigners were doing it as well as you could imagine foreigners doing it -- and it suddenly looked quite different on the stage at the Royal Theatre.

I don't mean to defend the group, just saying what sometimes happens. The Suzanne Farrell Ballet did a modern dance piece last year, made by a choreographer Farrell had worked with in Florida. It may have been fine there, and an interesting process for the dancers, etc, etc., but it did not fit on a program with Divertimento No. 15 -- there was a distinct quality gap!

All that said, if the piece isn't up to standard, I hope people said so. Then maybe you won't have to endure it again.

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I have not seen, nor read anything about Greve's Hamlet, but have heard that it was quite a good choreography. Haven't heard anything about the quality of the dancing, however. But these recent posts have brought up some questions--

1. If one of the two (choreography/dancing) is poor does it immediately sour the other or is it possible to appreciate the un-tainted element?

2. With regard to programming, I personally enjoy a program that is truly "mixed" with distinct differences between the rep evening. As I have posted re: the RDB triple bill, too much of the same makes for little to remember for me. This evening, the company changed the program due to illness and injury I believe. Originally scheduled: La Sylphide and Etudes, this changed to Vers Un Pays Sage (Maillot) and La Sylphide. I wonder which is the more effective program aesthetically (provided we disregard the details of dancers that are available, time limits, subscription worries etc. etc.)

3. What can be said for "home court advantage"? I suspect that it must be difficult for a foreign company to put on any ballet in its home turf--in the case of La Sylfide even with the Schaufass choreography. Or, to use an example of an extreme case--last season both NYCB and Dance Theatre of Harlem had Serenade in the rep. AND both of these Serenades were performed on the same stage!

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Aspirant, which night do you mean was changed to "Vers un pays sage" and "La Sylphide"? Today Thursday, the only change was that Greve and Mora was replaced by Bowman and Massot in "Etudes". In which, by the way, Gudrun Bojesen was wonderful. A joy to watch.

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I am positive about seing new and young talents and also other companies than the top 5. But in order to tour a company should be able to bring either excellent dancers or interesting ballets. What was on show was 8 dancers who did not match each other very well and who was disadvantaged by sharing the stage with top dancers, which probably made them look worse than they were. And when you end up with a situation where you have Hubbe and Kobborg beating the tambourines and the SAs dancers killing the pas de six and solo I begin to feel like this anecdote where a famous violinst is pressured by a rich man to accompany the rich mans son, his pupil, at a concert. Unfamiliar with performing on the piano, he then ask his friend, a wellknown pianist to help him turn the sheets. The review read. A man we admire playing violin played the piano. A man we admire playing pano turned the sheets, and the man who should have turned the sheets played the violin!

I feel that the star dancers(which was the name of the performance) could have spend their time and mine better. We could have had excepts from Manon, La Sylphide or Duo Consertante with Hubbe and Schandorff, We could even have had Yesterdays with Bendixen and Gad. Even an except from their Hamlet ballet would have been more interesting than the awful drum& Mozart piece and the underrehersed and underperformed Napoli III. I blame the Danish dancers and producer as much or perhaps more than the SA dancers. The should at least have so much respect for Bournonville to insist on a certain standard. A well danced Napoli III is always a joy andd they could have performed on level with the best parts of the programme.

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Next number was Don Q. with Kobborg and Alina C. She was fantastic and he was good, with out dazzling. He is a dancer, whom I have almost found it difficult to admire mostly due to lack of line. I have seen better from other Danish and international dancer, but she really managed to make a Kitri, that was neither vulgar nor external. Quite a feat.

Johan Kobborg does not lack line, and theres no more to say about that!!

Alina C and Kobborg then did the pas de deux from MacMillan Romeo & Juliet. Again she was the better dancer and actor of them   

I think you'll find that almost all of the london critics disagree with you, especially from a dancer/actor perspective! Very rarely does he get a bad review, either for his dancing or his acting!

Back from Aarhus, I hasten to bring my report. It was a night of superb dancing. It was a night of mediocre dancing. It was a night of masterpieces. It was a night of awfull choreography.

So overall you had a good night then!!??? :D

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Obviously I didn't see Kobborg in these performances, but I did see him in the Bournonville Festival in '00. It is interesting that there was a split in opinion on him; the London critics did in fact like his dancing and acting, but several of the American critics (myself included) didn't. (We saw him in Napoli, Konservatoriet and La Sylphide). It could be they are more used or attuned to him or any other reason, but there was a difference in taste there.

And putting on my Board Host Beanie and propellor set, I think it's important to realize that on any ballet discussion board, we're going to see our favorite dancers both praised and criticized. Of course you may disagree, but try and remember this is a discussion, not a debating forum.

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I am fully aware that I am not a fan of Johan Kobborg, and I therefore try to be as objective as I can, when I see his performances. I am very pleased that his career is doing so well in London, and I agree with people who claims that he is much better suited to RB than RDB.

As so much of the repetoire in Denmark is legacy, it can be very difficult for a dancer, who do not exactly fit the types to get full recognition. As far as the Danish standards goes, Kobborg was forced into the demi caracter role, which he really is not. It has been much easier for dancers like Arne Villumsen, Ib Andersen, Nicolai Hubbe and even a foreign dancer like Lloyd Riggins to build a career here .It is not that he has been underpreciated in Denmark. He has danced a lot of leading roles, but he has never been as dominant and frequent star dancer as he is is with Royal ballet. it has more been like: we know he is good so we muust give him some parts. I my opinion they have failed in buying ballets that could use his potential. A ballet like Asstons Rhapsody would have been a great choice for Kobborg and Thomas Lund. He could so easyly have been a victim of the series of wrong ballet masters. Yes he was a favorite with Peter Schaufuss, but to dance leading roles in bad ballets is not really progressing a dancer. He has also lacked an equal partner i RDB, which he has now. I would say he has a more than equal partner in Alina C To me she is the revelation. He is good and she is great.

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I've always thought of Kobborg as demicaractere -- that's how he was regarded as a student, at any rate, and I think that's why there's a line problem (although I think he's worked very hard to overcome it). I also think he's excellent in demicaractere roles -- I may have written this before, but I thought he was incredible in the part of Jason in "Far From Denmark" -- the kind of role that should be impossible for a teenager, which he was at the 1992 festival -- and Colas in "La Fille Mal Gardee" (with the Royal). I was one who was disappointed in his James and Gennaro in Copenhagen in 2000, but have read the consistent glowing reviews from London and would be curious to see him in those roles.

Effy, I'd probably have much the same feeling that you did after seeing a disappointing program in Arhus, but I think it's what happens with "summer gigs" (even though it's October) that are put together to give dancers work in their off-season. Maybe the SA dancers wanted to try Napoli (?) Not the best reason to make the audience watch it, but often experiments happen outside of major cities to give the dancers a chance without being as harshly scrutinized.

(I would echo Leigh's comments above. People's taste in dancers is very personal, and we want people to be comfortable saying either "I love X" and "I thought she was awful!". It's probably best, when writing, to remember that no matter how awful the dancer was, his or her mother is probably reading the board. Not that anything on THIS thread crossed that line, but just as a general reminder.)

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Well lets remember that I actually enjoyed the performance, Yes Kobborg was regarded and cast as demi caracter in the rather rigid Danish ballet tradition. He has done some demi caracter parts very well, but overall it was limiting him as a dancer. James and Gennero was not really the answer either as both roles demand a glamorous dancer, who can act as the hero. One of the strongest performances Kobborg had made on home turf was as the unplesant husband in Flemming Flindts otherwise forgetable Legs of fire. I would also ad that he seldom had a god partner, as the major ballerinas were considered to tall for him and the smaller girls not in his leque.

Thomas Lund has shared some of the same problems in building a career and a partnership. The frequency is to low between the really good and well chosed part. Now Thomas Lund get Nutcracker and James, where he too lacks the glamour and they still fail to get the works that would really suit him. After Kobborg left he has to wait even longer. When Kobborg was in the company they at least now and again had to chose a suitable ballet. Behind Lund, Morten Eggert has the same problem. To little and too infrequently. On the other hand dancer like Mads Blangstrup and andrew Bpwman, tall classical dancers gets a lot of parts, good partners and stage time because they suit the repetoire and with Kenneth Greve as lead dancer, the focus is on the taller, classical type

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