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Natalia's Copenhagen Capers (Log, B'ville Fest)

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Day 1 - Friday, June 3, 2005 (part one)

In Copenhagen, white puffs of smoke from the roof of the Royal Theater do not signal the election of a new pope. Instead: Habemus Balletam!

As I learned when reading Alexandra Tomalonis' invaluable biography of Henning Kronstam, white puffs of smoke are emitted from the rooftop's urns prior to gala performances, while red lanterns signal a sold-out house. We saw puffs AND red lights last night.

The 3rd Bournonville Ballet Festival opened last night in a truly gala manner, with Queen Margrethe II in the Royal Box and this jewel-box of an auditorium festooned in garlands of white roses. The audience stood up whenever she entered her box, which is located audience-left, above the orchestra. During bows, the dancers first acknowledged the Queen, then the audience.

This would be the first of nine days of celebrations, exhibitions, tours, performances and general merriment in honor of Denmark's great 19th-century ballet choreographer, August Bournonville. Happy 200th birthday, Bournonville!

On the bill last night were two recently-premiered stagings: 'La Ventana' (music by Lumbye & Holm) and 'Kermesses in Bruges' (music by Paulli).

La Ventana, ballet in 1 act, 2 scenes

2005 staging by Eva Kloborg and Frank Andersen

Costumes by Kristen Lund

Set by Jesper Kongshau

Senorita - Gitte Lindstrom

Senor - Jean-Lucien Massot

Pas de Trois - Caroline Cavallo, Gudrun Bojesen, Tim Matiakis

Senorita's 'Reflection' in Mirror Dance - Camilla Ruelykke

Corps of 8 couples

This delightful bon-bon of a ballet's story is of minimal importance -- girl hears boy serenading outside her mansion; boy throws rose through her window; girl return the rose, signaling that she will meet him in the plaza; pure-dance divertissement by boy, girl and their friends, in the Spanish classical manner.

We have been promised changes in the newer stagings of Bournonville ballets and this was no exception, as it is set in.....the Madrid of the 1800s, in the Prado Museum, no less! The ingenious, colorful set consists of a backdrop of a gigantic framed painting of dancers in a square, painted by Manuel Castellano. The ballet commences with this scene, the Senorita (heroine of our ballet) semmingly 'steps out' of the painting, via ingenious lighting. The entire canvas then rotates 180 degrees to reveal an entire wall of Prado treasures, with a big mirror located beneath Goya's 'Naked Maja' painting. The first scene of the ballet, including the famous 'Mirrir Dance' by the Senority & her reflection, happen here. For the second scene of the ballet, the canvas once again rotates 180 degrees to reveal the Castellano painting of dancers in the square.

The costume as beautiful and tradition, in silk and lace. The senorita wears a white dress with black lace accents. The Senor wears a purple matador-style outfit. The corps are attired in traditional Spanish costumes, with the Pas de Trois dancers in slightly more pastel versions of the same.

The dancing by all was MAGNIFICENT. Gitte Linstrom, a medium-height, pretty brunette displayed lovely Bournonville technique. Tall Jean-Lucien Massot, as the Senor, had Spanish vem & vigor, along with spiffy high entrechats, if a bit lacking in amplitude and flexibility.

The Pas de Trois is a joy of a set-piece. The revelation here was the spectacular technique of soloist Tim Matiakis. As the first female soloists with the quick cabrioles, Caroline Cavallo was neat and clean, while the second soloist, gorgeous blonde Gudrun Bojesen, displayed perfect balances in her many arabesque poses.

The taquette pointework by Gitte Lindstrom was the perfect icing on the cake, during a jolly jota of a coda. Ole!

I will write about 'Kermesse' in my next journal entry. Now...time to go to company class, at the Royal Theater. A busy day is ahead.

Natalia Nabatova


Copenhagen, Denmark

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Friday, June 3 (part two)

Kermesse in Bruges, ballet in four scenes (here performed without intermissions)

2005 staging by Lloyd Riggins

Sets & Costumes - Rikke Juellund

Those of us who are familiar with the last two or three productions of "Kermesse" by the Royal Danish Ballet were quite surprised to return from the post-Ventana intermission, to face a starkly plain, off-white front curtain in place of the Royal Theater's normal "fancy classical" curtain. What was this? Clearly, this would be a rethought staging.

Curtain up. Instead of the familiar, realistic set of a square in 17th-C Bruges, we see a sunkissed square with adobe whitewashed buildings, an arch, and the distant silhouette of a spire. The villagers are attired in tones of beige and drab olive. The only bright colours are the reds worn by the circus performers and Slovanka Dancers. All subsequent scenes are of a similarly stark, bright style. For example, the second scene -- the alchemist Mirewelt's study -- has a plain wall in the back; there is no big painting (all paintings went to La Ventana tonight!). Hence, the scene where the sisters Marchen and Johanna look through Mirewelt's 'telescope' to see visions of their far-off loved ones within the large framed painting on the wall, is reworked. Instead, Mirewelt gives the sisters a crystal ball and the brothers dance their little scenes on the stage.

The off-white front curtain opens in different manners for the various scenes, e.g., it swoops up from the base to form a canopy for Frau Von Everdingen's outdoor party (scene three).

The costumes of the soloists were similarly stark & plainish. The dresses of the young leading ladies are almost 21st-century linen street-dresses. They could be seen on the Stroget (the big pedestrian shopping street here) in today's Copenhagen. OK, I thought, so this is a modern staging....but....no, a few characters such as Frau Von Everdingen and the two pompous schemers, Von Joeck and Van der Steen, wear the starchy Baroque collars. Perhaps this is the designer's way of differentiating the pompous from the kind & honest characters?

Then there was Mirewelt, a tall & youngish bald-headed gentleman in a long fur-trimmed brocade cloak. No beard, no cap. Just Mogens Boesen playing Yul Brynner in 'The King and I.'

Thank goodness, the glorious miming and dancing are all there! Although this is a rather convoluted tale of three kind-hearted brothers receiving magical gifts from the alchemist Mirewelt, Bournonville's genious is to make every nuance of the story clear as a bell. This is drama, first and foremost, peppered with a few good dollops of classical dancing. One of the largest segments of pure dance occurs in the 3rd scene (Frau Von Everdingen's party). Tonight offered a 3rd version that I've seen (see other thread on this). This one is titled "Psyche" and is in the ananchreonic style, a boy-and-girl lead pair, surrounded by eight corps ladies, all garbed in gauzy white outfits. Is this by Bournonville? By Riggins? The literature made no mention of a choreographer beside Bournonville, for the entire ballet.

The dancers & mime artists? Mostly splendid! It's hard to pinpoint one or two stars, as this ballet is chock-full of meaty character roles. The men were perhaps a bit brighter than the ladies last night. Kristoffer Sakurai -- promoted to principal on stage, just after the bows -- danced Carelis with joy and gusto, just as such Bournonville roles are supposed to be danced. His Eleonora, Susanne Grinder, showed sharp technique, if not much musicality (dancing oblivious to the music...perhaps out of nervousness). On the other hand, Tina Hojlund was more than musical and a total hoot of a comedienne as one of the two goofy sisters, Marchen.

My personal top honors of the night go to Thomas Lund and Peter Bo Bendixen as the two brothers of Carelis, Geert and Adrian. Lund nearly had us rolling in the aisles with laughter, with his frolicking about as an Instant Lothario upon receiving the magical ring from Mirewelt which makes him the great conqueror of female hearts. I had a hard time trying to take my eyes off Lund, as a lot of the main stage action was taking place elsewhere.

Almost as funny was Bendixen as Adrián, the big strappingly-handsome brother who lacks courage. He gains that through the magic sword given to him by Mirewelt.

A small delightful cameo is that of a pompous queenly character in the party scene. Here it is danced by a buxomy tall redheaded woman (uncredited in the programme); in the past this was an Afro-Caribbean Queen character. I wonder if the character was now made 'white' so as to not offend the global audience? (Gee, I hope they don't do this to the negro servants in Far from Denmark, which we'll see in a few days.) Yet another delightful cameo is that of the little boy-servant who constantly carries this queenly woman's train. The little Royal Danish Ballet Academy lad who danced this role received huge applause for his rollickingly-funny characterization, running around to keep up with his queen!

Another detail of originality in this production: the lady who dances the servant of Mirewelt (unnamed in programme) is dressed in the costume of Vermeer's 'Young Girl with a Pearl Earring' but we don't realize this until the start of scene two, when we see her posing by the window, just like the girl in the painting.

Kudos, too, to tall blonde principal Andrew Bowman for his sky-high tours and jetes as the male soloist in the "Psyche" divertissement of scene three. He partnered Caroline Cavallo, one of the troupe's strongest technicians.

The greatest praise goes to the ensemble for bringing the joy & love of August Bournonville's creation to life!

Appreciative applause and foot spomping (rather than yelling 'bravo') seems to be the order of the day in Denmark. So, rather than yell 'bravo,' I stomp my feet in appreciation of this 'new look' Kermesse. Bournonville lives on!

Natalia Nabatova


Copenhagen, Denmark

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Thank you, Natalia! That was lovely!! "La Ventana" is the ballet that's been out of repertory the longest -- not seen since the mid-1980s, so it's good to read that it still works. It is an oddity in the Bournonville repertory -- almost the most "modern" of his ballets, because it's nearly all dancing. I look forward to reading more from you :tiphat:

(We'll be carrying a Letter from Copenhagen at DanceView Times all week, by the Danish writer Eva Kistrup. I'm in the process of putting up the first installment now. It should be up by noon today (Saturday, June 4, 2005) The links will be posted on the Links forum and not here.

[edited to add -- sorry, I was posting that exactly as you were posting your other pieces; I'd only read the "La Ventana" one. They're all lovely :) I also posted a link on Links to this thread, so those who only check the site for Links will see this)

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Day Two - Sat., June 4 (part one)

Presentation of 'Bournonville Schools' DVD and 'Bournonville and Tivoli Mime' demonstration in the original Royal Danish Court Theater, Charlottenburg Palace (now the Royal Theater Museum)

As part of the festival celebrations, the Royal Danish Theater has arranged a fascinating series of tours, exhibits and lectures on all-things-Bournonville.

Today we visited the Theater Museum for a presentation of the just-released 'Bournonville Schools' DVD and accompanying books on the music and steps. This is the result of a monumental effort by the head of the Royal Danish Ballet school, Anne Marie Vessel and many, many others. The Bournonville curriculum, as preserved after Bournonville's death by Hans Beck, has now been recorded and preserved for use by teachers around the world (and admiration by we, the ballet-lovers). As many of you know, the curriculum is comprised of a set of exercises (around 20 or so enchainements) for each day of the week, minus Sunday. Six of the most gifted, present stars of the RDB demonstrate the enchainements, which can be easily accessed through DVD menu, e.g., in a few seconds, we can search for 'Wednesday, number 20' and - voila! - there it is. The DVD also includes sections on special characterizations & nuances, such a placement of head and eyes, port de bras, etc. Too, there is an interesting Introduction in which many RDB stars and teachers talk about their personal experiences in dancing Bournonville.

The DVD was followed by a charming lecture-demo on mime within the ballets of Bournonville and in the pantomime comedies staged at the Tivoli Park's Pantomime Theater. This section was led by Dinna Bjorn and Claus Hjort, with various RDB and Tivoli artists demonstrating the excerpts. We were treated to bits of Conservatoire and La Sylphide, as well a segments of several Harlequine pantomimes from Tivoli. Especially intriguing was a no-longer-performed segment from Act I of La Sylphide. This follows the entrance of the Sylph through the window, surprising James. In the excised segment, the Sylph tells James how she used to follow him as he was growing up, whenever he went out hunting. It's a shame that modern stagers omit such charming sections, which lend a greater understanding to the overall story.

p.s. - TV ALERT! to all of our readers with access to the Danish Television system. June 11th's final gala, Bournonvilleana, will be televised. Set your VCRs.

- Natalia Nabatova

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Day 2, June 4 (part 2)

Napoli, ballet in three acts

Additional choreography by Hans Beck (soli in Act III Pas de Six) and Dinna Bjorn (all of Act II)

Staged by Dinna Bjorn & Frank Andersen with Anne Marie Vassel and Eva Klobborg, assisted by Christina Nilsson and Thomas Lund

Music by Gade, Helsted, Paulli and Lumbye

Traditional scenery & costumes

Tonight alone was worth our trip to Copenhagen! Between the festive Act III on the stage and the post-performance party in honor of Anne Marie Vessel's 40th anniversary of service to the Royal Danish Ballet, with Queen Margrethe II in attendance, this was an evening to remember!

Unlike yesterday's novel stagings of Ventana and Kermesse, tonight's traditional Napoli offered no real surprises. Such tradition was greeted by loud yells of support and even some "bravos," which were missing last night. So much for my theory that the Danes consider it impolite to cheer loudly; they put that supposition to rest.

Once again, the audience stood to greet Queen Margrethe II and her sister, Princess Benedikte, when they entered the Royal Box. Opposite them, one lone elegant lady occupied the Lady-in-Waiting Box. Beneath the LIW Box stands a white-marble bust of August Bournonville, a green laurel wreath atop 'his' head for the duration of the Festival!

Two sharp 'clangs' are sounded once the Royals occupy their places, signaling the start of each act. The only discordant note, so to speak, was the oddly neo-classical choreography of Act II by Dinna Bjorn. Pleasant but it's obviously not Bournonville. Why did they discard the Bournonville original three years ago?

Tonight we had top-of-the-line Bournonville dancers on stage. Teresina was Tina Hojlund, a delicate brunette dancer who breathes pure Bournonville elegance with every step she takes. Her Effie in Sylphide was one of the highlights of the RDB's Washington, DC, season last year. How nice - HOW NICE - that the RDB management saw fit to cast such a soft, 'old fashioned' dancer in such an important role during this festival!

Hojlund's Gennaro was Thomas Lund. What more can I say that hasn't been written about this master of the Bournonville style and fine actor? Lund's emotion and gusto during the Tarantella was palpable across the footlights. He appeared to be leading his colleagues -- and we, the audience -- to greater heights with every step.

Flemming Ryberg once again graced the stage with one of his signature roles, Peppo, the gossipy lemonade seller. Here's an artist who makes us all believe in immortality, as he hasn't changed one bit in his looks and characterization.

All of the Act III Pas de Six and Tarantella soloists were superb, with special mentions having to go to tall Andrew Bowman -- who received the first volley of 'bravos' of the night, following his solo -- and the gorgeous Gitte Lindstrom, in the next-to-last female solo with a brilliant display of ballon. Oh...and how can I forget the Cojocaru-style 'endless balances' of Tina Hojlund in her Act II solo?

I can now die and go to Ballet Heaven as a happy camper. I have witnessed Napoli in Bournonville's home theater.

Natalia Nabatova

p.s. Next report will be on Monday, as tomorrow is a day off. We Bournonvillean Balletomanes will enjoy a day in the Tivoli pleasure gardens. I hate to call it an 'amusement park,' as there is no Mickey Mouse in sight! Only Harlequin and Columbine.

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Day Three - Sunday, June 5

Today's entry is brief, as the theater was dark. However, that does not mean that there were no Bournonville-related activities transpiring about town. In fact, it was one of the most fulfilling days to date.

After a short walk from my hotel, past the colorful Nyhaven district, to the Amalienborg Palace, I toured a portion of this in-town residence of the Royal Family and viwed the Changing of the Guard -- known formally as the Royal Lifeguards, sporting the famous tall beaver hats. Later today, we would see these soldiers in miniature, in the form of the Tivoli Boy's Band.

In the early afternoon, I joined my fellow ballet friends on a fascinating tour of the exhibition of Bournonville ballet costumes at the National Museum. Titled 'Tulle and Tricot,' this is no mere exhibition but a romantic poem in honor of the Danish ballet, on a magnificent scale. A space the size of an airplane hangar has been tranformed into a magical fairyland, in which sylphs hover above us! Every costume appears to dance, hanging on half-mannequings from the ceiling.

Following the exhibit's viewing, we were treated to a fascinating 1979 film about the coaching of RDB dancers by noted instruktors in the true Bournonville style. Especially wonderful was an extended look at Hans Brenaa (then about 70 years old) teaching the Kermesse in Bruges pas de deux to Mette Ida-Kirk and Ib Andersen. My goodness! That's when we realize that today's talented young artists could benefit a lot from the coaching of a new Brenaa! There is simply NO comparison between the Kirk-Andersen Kermesse pdd and that on display at the Royal Theater two nights ago, I'm afraid to say.

On to Tivoli for the rest of the day and night! The highlight of our visit was, no doubt, visiting the gorgeous Peacock Theater near the park's entrance. This adorable little theater in Chinoiserie style boasts a one-of-a-kind arched curtain, in the form of a peacock's open tail-feathers, with the plaster body of the bird in the center. The bird's feathers fan open (from the center) and its body descends into the orchestra pit, to signal the start of 30-minute commedia dell'arte pantomimes starring Harlequin, Columbine, Pierrot and their cohorts. The Tivoli Orchestra always plays in the pit; never is there canned music!

Our group witnessed two such pantomime-ballets, Pierrot's Calamities and Harlequin Mechanical Statue. One can see how Bournonville's mime borrowed from these pantomimes, and vice versa. Between shows we were treated to a tour of this gem of a theater, which was built in 1876 -- just as the present Royal Theater in Kongens Nytorv. However, a pantomime theater & pantomime performances have existed in Tivoli for over 100 years prior to the building of the present theater.

Despite the chilly temperative, I stayed in this charming park through the evening, enjoyinh the rides and attractions, which culminated in a spectacular fireworks display around 11 pm.

On Monday: A tour of Bournonville's house in Fredensburg (about one hour's travel, north of Copenhagen), followed by La Sylphide and a repeat-performance of La Ventana.

Natalia Nabatova

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Thanks, Alexandra. You can't imagine how happy I am that you and others are enjoying all of our reports (not just mine). Many folks send their greetings. I'll PM you later. We miss you!!!

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Very happy to read about Hojlund dancing Teresina in Natalia's (and Eva Klistrup's) writings about the festival. I only saw a bit of Hojlund when soloists from the RDB appeared in Atlanta, but my reaction to her in Bournonville was very similar to Natalia's--and I also enjoyed her dancing in a contemporary work. I would love to see her again in a big Bournonville role like Teresina!

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Day Four - Monday, June 6

La Ventana (see Day One for production credits)


La Sylphide

2003 production by Nikolaj Hubbe; instruktion by Annd Marie Vessel Schluter

Music by H.S. Lovenskjold

Sets & Costumes by Mikael Melbye

Following a VERY long day of touring -- a bus trip to the royal town of Fredensborg for a tour and lunch-reception at Villa Bournonville, then back to Copenhagen for a walking tour of the mammoth new Royal Opera House, then a special presentation of the 'Monday Class' of the Bournonville curriculum -- I was actually dragging myself out of my hotel room and into the theater at about 7:30 pm! (Some souls preceded the Fredensborg tour with a look at the Children's Ballet Class in the early-morning hours.)

There's nothing like the zest of La Ventana to energize me back to ballet-viewing shape! On this second viewing, my admiration for this short gem of a ballet grew even bigger. The casting was perhaps a bit less perfect than the original cast but still quite brilliant. Just-promoted soloist Izabela Sokolowska's trump card is her gorgeous round instep...the most beautiful feet at the RDB! Feet so soft and pliable, like cotton candy in her pointe shoes. Unfortunately, this made her a bit less effective in the final taquette dances (quick little pointework, as if stabbing the floor), which were better executed by Gitte Lindstrom last Friday.

Tonight's leading Senor, Mads Blangstrup, cut a fine figure, if lacking in Spanish fire. Another tall & blonde gent, Andrew Bowman, displayed multiple well-centered pirouettes in the Pas de Trois. One of his two ladies, Diana Cuni, gave the (to me) outstanding female performance of the whole evening in her solo of quick little cabrioles and entrechats.

Side note: After viewing all of the corps and soloist ladies in classes this past weekend, I've come to the conclusion that Cuni is one of the finest natural talents in the company, along with a young redhead named Julie Valentin -- who has yet to dance a solo role at this festival. Cuni and Valentin have that extra oomph, the added height and amplitude, as well as neatness in pointework, that really makes me sit up & take notice!

On to Sylphide.

Thomas Lund WAS James. That alone makes it a five-star performance!

But that was not all. We had the glorious, TRUE Bournonvillean ballerina of this troupe, Tina Hojlund, as Effie, James' unsuspecting fiancee. Then we had the glorious miming of Lis Jeppesen as a multi-faceted witch Madge (no mere old hag she!) and even the graceful cameo of Kirsten Simone as Anna, the innkeeper. Then we had a perfectly-executed Scottish Reel in Act I by the ensemble of adults and children, one of the great set-pieces of the Bournonville cannon.

Gudrun Bojesen was a soft and feminine Sylph, if not the airiest of jumpers, as were Rose Gad and Lis Jeppesen in their prime. I also would prefer to see a Sylph who is a bit smaller than her James but...we can't have every element perfect, can we?

Nikolai Hansen acted convincingly as Gurn, James' rival for the hand of Effie.

The final scene, when the Sylph becomes blind and slowly dies (after James unsuspectingly wraps the poisoned scarf around her), was truly touching. The corps de ballet of Sylphs were truly Sylphs, mourning their 'sister's' death, watching her slow ascent to the heavens. No company on earth does this scene as effectively as the Danes. Very few of us in the audience had dry eyes.

Natalia Nabatova

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Me too :) I always liked Diana Cuni. She was an aspirant when I was going to Copenhagen with some regularity and I liked her dancing and her piquancy. I'm glad she's doing well.

A small point -- the costumes don't let Anna stand out and she probably does look like an innkeeper, but she's James's mother and has probably arranged the wedding.

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Oh, I love your review of the Kermessen i Brügge! I completely agree with you! And about the read headed woman, I found out it was the 19-year old Maria Bernholdt, which was credited as "Contessa" in the programme.

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Thanks for your respective clarifications, Alexandra & Susanne. Alexandra, I thought that she was James' mother (she is) but I asked a Danish friend to traslate the wording in the programme next to Anna's name...and the description is merely 'Anna, an innkeeper'! I agree -- the tartan plaids for James' family are downright dark and blah, compared to those of Effie's and Gurn's families. Yet another reason why Effie should have gone with Gurn from the get-go!

Diana Cuni was one of the best 'things' in Abdallah, too, last night. (review-report forthcoming)

So that's the Contessa, Susanne! Well, Maria Bernholdt is definitely an eye catcher & a wonderful comedienne. I spotted her in the corps of Abdallah last night, too.

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Day Five - Tuesday, June 7

Today, during the day, I struck out on my own & finally saw the Little Mermaid statue in the northern end of town. It's lovely but....so tiny, compared to what I had imagined, seeing the photos! Too, it was quite amusing to hear a band of BALALAIKA players serenading tourists on the quai. Just like back in St. Petersburg! :( Well, don't laugh -- it's not such a stretch. There IS Romanov blood in the Danish royal family...and the last Tsar, Nikolai II's, mother began life as the Danish Princess Dagmar (changing her name to Maria Feodorovna upon conversion to Russian Orthodoxy) and is buried in Roskilde, to the west of Copenhagen. So long live the Danish-Russian entente!

Back to the theater area in the evening for, first, a look at the Bournonville Schools: Tuesday Class demonstration, led by Anne Marie Vessel Schluter, head of the Royal Danish Ballet Academy. The professional dancers who demonstrated the various enchainements are among the best, all of whom I've praised in my reviews: Tina Hojlund, Diana Cuni, Gudrun Bojesen & the incomparable Thomas Lund! They were joined by relative-newcomers Ellen Green and David Sokolowski AND a contingent of 4th-grade kids. Interestingly, the Bournonville Daily Schools often include excerpts from complete ballets. For example, in the Tuesday class, one of the dances is Gurn's Act I solo from Sylphide, here performed by Lund...who usually dances James on stage. Similarly, the Saturday Class includes a complete pas de deux from a now-lost Bournonville ballet, La Vestale, with music by Spontini (probably from his opera). Vessel explained that this is an exceedingly difficult pas de deux...Erik Bruhn once refused to dance it, it is so difficult. Last Saturday, it was perfectly demonstrated by Gudrun Bojesen & Thomas Lund, from the just-released Bournonville Schools DVD...so we can all enjoy it in our living rooms!

Now on to tonight's ballet, Abdallah.

Abdallah, Romantic ballet in three acts (1855)

Music by H.S. Paulli (including many 'repeats' from his segments of Napoli)

Reconstructed in 1984-85 by Bruce Marks, Sorella Englund and Flemming Ryberg; now further assisted by Lis Jeppesen

Sets & Costumes by Jens-Jacob Worsaae, based on the 1855 original sketches

This is surely the oddest of 'Bournonville' ballets! It's incredibly 'dancey' with minimal mime, including entire bravura segments for a male corps de ballet, lined up together, doing entrechats and double-tours in unison. Hmmmm...perhaps Mr. Bournonville was aided by the ancestors of Rudolf Nureyev, way back in 1855? It doesn't matter, as Abdallah makes for a night of jolly-good fun in the theater and affords us a look at the Royal Danish Ballet in a more Petipa-like mode. We will have plenty of opportunities to return to the traditional Bournonville in the days ahead!

The story of the poor Iraqi cobbler given a magical candelabra (with the ability to make wishes come true &, for instance, transform his hut into a palace) is certainly in the style of Bournonville's time. The various transformations allow us further glimpses into the special effects of the Royal Theater, such as fire & smoke, a floating candelabra & such. In the end, Abdallah makes the mistake of lighting the fifth & final candle...and his life of riches and harem-girls goes up in a puff of smoke! However, he still manages to woo & get his beloved Irma, the sweetheart who lives across the square.

The beauty of this production is in the classical -- almost Petipa-like -- set pieces which afford us the opportunity to see many of the lesser-known RDB corps members & young soloists in pure-dancing.

Morten Eggert was superb in the title role, especially when performing his slow, easy, buttery-smooth multiple pirouettes, ending in perfect fifth positions! His Irma, Amy Watson, is a pretty brunette dancer with loads of charm, if a tad brittle in her technique, with few clean landings & rather sloppily-held arms. No fear -- we had many opportunities to see great classical female dancing, such as:

Diana Cuni in the Act I Pas de Quatre for Irma-Abdallah-Two Girlfriends - mesmerizing in her quick legbeats in a solo to music from Napoli

Camila Ruelykke, also in that Pas de Quatre, and in Act III as Azeli - What a soft & easy Bournonville technique she has! She is one of the youngest of corps dancers, who already displays a facility for difficult Bournonville steps. Definite principal potential, some day.

Haley Henderson - a tall blonde Glamazon, perfect in the role of the leading seductress among the Harem Girls, Palmyra

***Yao Wei as Selime, one of Sheik Ismael's daughters in Act III, who dances a pas de deux and solo during the classical Pas de Cinq with her sisters and brothers. SPECTACULAR! If this were a Petipa Festival, beautiful Yao Wei would be its Queen! ( Yao Wei's performances at the 2001 Shanghai Int'l Ballet Competition will forever stay in my memory as one of my all-time great moments in ballet. How nice to see her established as a soloist in a great troupe, so early in her career.)

Tobias Praetorius...a HOOT as Sadi, the little slave-boy, and assistant to Omar, the keeper of the harem. (This little kid 'stole' the show, including the bows at the end of the night. Just as he stepped forward to bow to the audience, Omar would hold his shoulders & 'turn' him in the direction of the Queen's Box, saving him from committing the faux-pas of bowing first to the audience. I could see that even the Queen was laughing heartily with the kid.)

In the after-party, the man responsible for the resurrection of this ballet, Bruce Marks, made a speech in honor of the 20th anniversary of the 'second premiere' of this work, by Ballet West. So, in the Danish tradition, RDB artistic director Frank Andersen led us all in giving Bruce Marks the Danish cheer of 'Huahs' -- three long ones, followed by three short ones:

HU-AH! HU-AH! HU-AH! Huah-Huah-Huah!!!

Natalia Nabatova

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In Natalia and several other reviews Thomas Lund is rightly praised and the reviewers assume that he is the dominent male dancer in RDB. This is I have to say far from the truth. Save the Bournonville repetoire, Thomas Lund is underutilised in the repetoire. Save Bournonville this year has seen him in the second s casts of In the Night and Fancy Free and the not very advanced Nutcracker (for the fourth year running). Next year will show a predominately modern reportoire, with the big ballets being the two Neumeier ballet Mermaid and Romeo& Juliet and Manon, in which he has a small role.

Kernneth Greve on the the other hand has been busy and brilliant in everything but Bournonville. In the festival he will only do Junker Ove. Greve is a tall handsome dancer with lot of charisma, who could have been used in works like the Lifeguards and others.

It is unfair that he is not featured more in the festival, but it is of even greater consequence that Lund (and Eggert) is underused in the general repetoire. I

Mads Blangstrup is rightly cast as the second most important dancer both in the general repetoire (alternating mosts parts with Greve) and in Bournonville (aleernating with Lund) and is the "winner" on average. At least he gets to be used the whole season.

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Day Six - Wednesday, June 8

DOUBLE BILL: Far from Denmark and Konservatoriet (with one 30-minute intermission between two L-O-N-G mime-ballets, each ballet performed without intermission)

Evening in Honor of the 40th Anniversary of character artist Poul-Erik Hessellkilde, who danced in both ballets, the Consul, Fernandes, in the first, and the leading role of Monsieur DuFour in the second. This probably explains the odd placement of Konservatoriet as the 2nd ballet....as it ends with a long, all-mime act...whereas Far from Denmark ends with a zippy all-dance final act, more appropriate as a curtain-closer, in my humble opinion. As it turned out, even the most faithful of Bournonville Lovers were squirming in their seats, trying very hard to stay awake through the last act of Konservatoriet, which began at about 10:30 pm. For shame!

Far from Denmark, ballet in two acts

Music partly composed & arranged by Joseph Glaeser (among the composers used is Gottschalk)...no names cited in the programme!

Traditional designs by Jenrik Bloch

Staging by Ann Holm-Jensen, Frank Andersen and Flemming Ryberg

Here's one ballet that, I can guarantee, will never ever play in America! The character dance of the 'happy' negro servants, Jason and Medea (and their four children) will guarantee that. So will the 'American Indian Dance' -- with the Indian Chief grabbing his 'squaw' at the end. Likewise, I am sure that the 'Eskimo Dance' offends Laplanders and the Chinese Dance turns-off Asian members of the audience. (However, not too many peole have complained publicly about the Chinese Dance in 'Nutcracker,' have they? Jason & Medea's Negro Dance in Act I of Far from Denmark was written in that same spirit. So let's see it.)

While considered highly insensitive by most of the Western press attending this festival, I am rather glad to see that the theter's management had the guts to present such dances as Bournonville created them. This allows the modern public to see how mid-19th-C. upper-class Danes (and most white people of that era) felt about people from other cultures. Let it be a reminder to all that we never return to that smugness. But it must be shown - to remind us of things that were. By sugar-coating it (as was done with the role of the vulgar 'Contessa' in Kermesse in Bruges, which was once the dance of a negro nouveau-riche woman), the RDB would be hiding its past, which is, in the end, a worse offense.

On to the ballet.

This is truly a delightful little work, set in 'Argentina' and on a Danish frigate off the coast of 'Argentina'....which is odd, given that the Act I is obviously set in the veranda of a grand house overlooking the bay of Charlotte Amalie, capital of the Danish (now U.S.) Virgin Islands, in the Caribbean! I've been there many times -- its where my parents went to buy cheap liquor and cigarettes, when I was growing up in Puerto Rico -- and recognize the bay & architecture of the little red-tiled homes clinging to the hill, palm trees everywhere. Too, black servants would never have been found in Argentina. Never mind; we're supposed to believe in Make Believe in the theater, right? OK - so this is 'Argentina' and the Argentine flag is shown during the Act II party aboard the frigate!

Jean-Lucien Massot was an appropriately snooty Don Alvar, rival to the Danish Lieutenant Wilhelm (Mads Blangstrup) for the heart of Rosita (the elongated Marie-Pierre Greve...looking more appropriate for dancing a Forsythe ballet), dauther of the Argentine Consul, Fernandes (Hessellkilde).

Diana Cuni and Izabela Sokolowska are delights in the travestie roles of two Danish Naval Cadels, Poul and Edvard. In Act II, they masquerade as 'girls' in the Chinese Dance, in which Cuni shines in a tricky solo.

Marcin Kupinski was spectacular as the Chief in an Indian Dance, displaying multiple high split leaps.

Ellen Green and Kristoffer Sakurai were very cute in the Eskimo Dance, complete with nose-rubbing kisses.

My prize for 'Laugh of the Night,' though, goes to that Negro Dance by Jason and Medea (danced by Gabor Baunoch and Elisabeth Dam, with assistance by RDB Academy kids, all in 'blackface' with 'messy-curled' wigs). Two cooks stood in the background, beating time with their cooking utensils. What more can we ask for?

Hey, I'm in Denmark, FAR FROM WASHINGTON, DC!

Konservatoriet, ballet in two acts (three scenes)

Music by H.S. Paulli (with quotations from other composers)

Traditional-style sets & costumes by David Walker

1995 staging of the complete ballet by Dinna Bjorn and Eva Klobborg

The honoree of the night, Poul-Erik Hessellkilde, truly shone in the grand comic role of Monsieur DuFour, the bachelor owner of a Parisian ballet conservatory who places an ad for a pretty or rich wife in a local newspaper. his long-time housekeeper, Mlle Bonjour (the excellent Jette Buchwald), is saddened to see this happen, as she's had eyes on him for many years. She is helped by a number of the conservatory's students in playing a trick on M. DuFour (dressing as 'respondents' to the ad, in various guises) until DuFour sees the light and asks Bonjour to marry him. Very rich in mime, this ballet tells a number of sub-stories, such as that of a little girl who wants to be a ballet dancer but is initially rejected by M. DuFour. A very high-quality MIME-ballet...and it is such a shame that it was shown late in the evening. (When I first saw this production in Paris, in 1995, it was paired with Etudes, which closed the night. Much smarter programming then.)

Yao Wei and Gitte Linstrom were exquisite as the main young ballerinas in the school, Elisa and Victorine, respectively. The leading young men were Jean-Lucien Massot as the Class Teacher, Alexis, and David Kupinski as a prize-winning violinist, Ernst. However, the male 'star' of the class was the magnificent Kristoffer Sakurai.

Kudos to Tim Matiakis in a short but spiffy Jockey Dance at the start of the Bois de Boulonge scene, as well as little Ida Praetorius as Fanny, the girl who auditions & is rejected (at first) by M. DuFour.

The music was replete with familiar tunes borrowed from other composers, e.g., bits of Webre's 'Invitation to the Dance' a.k.a. 'Spectre de la Rose,' Chopin's 'Les Sylphides,' and Fanny Elssler's 'La Cachucha.'

Henrik Vagn Christensen conducted the Royal Danish Theater's wonderful orchestra, on this and earlier nights.

Natalia Nabatova

***** RE-POSTING DAY SEVEN, which was somehow deleted. Want to keep the sequence of the 'Log' clean. Luckily I saved my MSWord files. Here goes!

Day Seven - Thursday, June 9

Double Bill - King's Lifeguards on Amager and a repetition of La Sylphide. Here, I will review only the first of these ballets, as it was the novelty.

King's Lifeguards on Amager, ballet in one act & multiple short scenes

Music by Holm, Mozart, DuPuy (the leading character of the ballet) and final galop by Lumbye.

Modern-after-traditional costumes & sets by Karin Betz

Background silhouette videos by Signe Krogh

Restaging/reworking by Anne Marie Vessel Schluter

This is one of the most perfect little story-ballets imaginable! In the span of one hour, we see love in all of its mutations and top it off with a rousing Shrovetide (winter Carnival) celebration, chock-full of glorious Bournonville dances. Like the previous night's Far from Denmark, it has mime and dancing in equal portions. Set in 1808, during the Napoleonic wars, it takes place on a large farmstead on the island of Amager, close to the city of Copenhagen. (Today's Copenhagen Int'l Airport is in Amager.)

The ballet tells an episode from the life of the Copenhagen composer, singer & director of the Royal Danish Theater in the early 1800s, Eduard DuPuy. He was also one of the most notorious 'casanovas' of his day! Like many gentlemen of his time, DePuy joined the King's Lifeguards (a sort of National Guard service in those days). His platoon was billeted in the farmstead. During the course of the ballet, we meet many interesting characters -- 'local' farmboys, maids, soldiers, etc. All the while, the wives of the officers -- all high-society ladies back home in Copenhagen -- are thinking about their men....and decide to pay a 'surprise' visit tot he platoon on Amager & join-in the upcoming Carnival festivities. They discover their men embroiled in love-escapades. DuPuy's wife, Louise, dons a mask to play a trick on her husband, getting him to flirt with her, as he has with every other woman on the island. In the end, all is forgiven & they dance the final galop together! (Shades of Die Fledermaus and many other theatrical works employing this device.)

Peter Bo Bendixen was a handsome & effective DePuy. It was a joy to finally see the tall & lovely Silja Schandorff during this festival, as DePuy's clever wife, Louise. Izabela Sokolowska and Elisabeth Dam were hilarious as the two young maids with whom De Puy has early flirtations, Else and Trine. Once again, Kristoffer Sakurai, as a Young lifeguard, Otto, was a dancing standout! He was absolutely fantastic dancing the Carnival Pas de Trois with Diana Cuni (who received a huge explosion of 'bravo!' after her difficult solo) and Susanne Grinder.

One of the big highlights of this ballet is the zippy Reel by a line of seven dancers (four girls and three guys dressed as sailors). The audience gave this beloved dance huge applause and floor-stomping!

The only negative to this ballet was the relative dreariness of the modernistic set -- dark maroon side and ceiling 'wings' that move in & out as schenes change. A dark blue 'screen' in the background showed video of silhouettes of people playing in the snow. Outdoors and indoors were separated by a simple cut-out of a mainframe house, with a door in the middle; this cut-out divider showed a sunny summer farm scene...perhaps to indicate that all of the warmth could be found inside the house?

The costumes were in traditional style -- thank goodness not as radical as those of Kermesse in Bruges, on opening night -- BUT they were mostly in very loud primary colours, which were jarring against the dreary background. Nothing seemed to be easy on the eye. Louise's dresses in fire-engine red were especially unfortunate. However, the ballet itself was a rousing success, refusing to be sunk by the unfelicitous designs!

Natalia Nabatova

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Day Eight - Friday, June 10

A Folk Tale, ballet in three acts

Choreographic "Reworking" and Staging by Anne Marie Vessel Schluter and Frank Andersen (ca-1992 version)

Music by Niels Gade and J.P.E. Hartmann

Sets and Costumes by H.M. Queen Margrethe II

What a well-balanced 'balletic meal' we were served last night! What a novel idea: one ballet in three normal-sized acts, separated by two normal-sized intermissions! It finally dawned on me, last night, that I had not felt so totally satisfied without being 'stuffed' since, uh....Napoli, one week ago. :tiphat:)

All right. I do not intend to bite the hand that has so gloriously fed me for the past eight nights -- with one final Feast in store for tonight, in the form of the Bournonvilleana Gala -- but, to show all existing Bournonville ballets, it has been necessary to cram most nights with two very rich, dense ballets. That's why last night's Folk Tale felt so darn comforting.

A Folk Tale is a fairy tale of Nordic trolls, set in the Danish countryside, around the 17th century. It taps the heart and soul of the Danes; if anything, the final tune of the Bridal Waltz is supposedly played in modern Danish weddings! I could tell that Danes sitting around me were enthralled by this ballet.

I'll try to relate the scenario. As a noble baby's nursemaid slept, trolls entered the nursery and switched baby Hilda with their own troll-baby, Birthe. Wild-tempered, red-headed Birthe (Tina Hojlund) is brought up as a noblewoman...but simply cannot hide her true nature. Sweet, blonde Hilda (Gudrun Bojesen) is reared by troll-woman Muri (Eva Kloborg)and her two sons, grumpy Diderik (Peter Bo Bendixen), and rough-but-tender Viderik (a hilarious Lis Jeppesen...who nearly steals the show), inside a mountain cave. Like Birthe, Hilde, cannot escape her nature and is very loving.

Nasty Miss Birthe is engaged to the handsome Sir Ove (Kenneth Greve); their wedding is approaching. Luckily for the Ove, he sees a vision of lovely Hilda in her mountain cave -- the mountain literally 'opens up' on the stage -- and they instantly fall in love. Hilda, in turn, sees visions of her infancy and realizes that she is a human Christian. (This is one of Bournonville's richest ballets, concerning Christian allegory.) Hilda convinces the nicer of the troll-brothers, Viderik, to help her escape during a wild Troll Party when the majority of trolls become drunk. Suffice it to say that, in the course of the ballet, the 'switch' of babies is exposed, nasty Birthe goes back to being a troll and sweet Hilda marries Ove. All is well, in the end.

Last night we had a dream cast. Gudrun Bojesen was an angel of Hilda -- practically a Disney Snow White, almost too good to be true, in her gentle acting and magical dancing! Tina Hojlund is not the strongest of Birthes, fighting against her own naturally sweet on-stage nature, but was funny enough, especially in the dressing-room scene in Act III when she rings the bell for her maids & pokes her head out the canopied bed.

Tall and handsome Kenneth Greve cut a fine figure in the practically-no-dancing role of Sir Ove (only one solo and a brief pas de deux in Act III/sc. i). I have yet to see this RDB star in a full dancing role since I first saw him in a not-too-auspicious guest stint with the Kirov Ballet in Swan Lake, in the mid-1990s. In other words, I'm still waiting to see his greatness shine through.

The main troll characters earn my highest accolades of the night: Eva Kloborg's menacing Muri, Peter Bo Bendixen's despicably lustful Diderik, and -- especially -- Lis Jeppesen's tragi-comic, multi-faceted Viderik. I could watch last night's ballet 20 times over and enjoy Jeppesen's Viderik every time, it is such a joy! So many great moments, where to begin? The way that Viderik plays his dulcimer, in the mountain-home, plucking it in a hilarious manner...much funnier than the trolls for whom he is playing. Or the instance when, on earth, Viderik realizes that he has lost his best pal, Hilde, forever, to Ove (Viderik goes backstage to a tree & cries.) Lis Jeppesen/Viderik even managed to steal the bows, after the show...the hilarious way in which she first plants her 'big foot' in the direction of the Queen's box, then bows to the Queen slower than the rest, with a flourish of her arms, her saucer-eyes popping out in awe...then does the same to us, the audience. The bows went on very long last night because, I think, everyone wanted to see Lis Jeppesen do her bow over and over, IT IS HILARIOUS!

I cannot fail to mention the most important all-dance segment of the night, the Gypsy Pas de Sept in the last scene, including spectacular solos by Diana Cuni and Thomas Lund (the latter garnering a VERY LOUD 'BRAVO!' from some guy up in the gallery, while the rest of us applauded and stomped our feet, in Danish fashion). The other Pas de Sept dancers were all quite fine: Lesley Culver, Femke Slot, Amy Watson, Andrew Bowman & Nicolai Hansen. Femke Slot is an especially gorgeous young Danish dancer, who has been given small solo roles throughout the festival. She has been a corps member since 1997 & may be included in the next round of promotions, many of us feel.

Speaking of the Pas de Sept, I could not help noticing that their costumes have changed a lot since 1992 (which we saw in Washington, DC's Kennedy Center soon after its premiere). Instead of the mostly-navy-blue costumes with long sleeves and red berets, we have lighter and far more 'danceable' multi-colored costumes and red bandanas now. Perhaps the dancers appealed to the Queen for more comfortable costumes?

Finally, I must mention that I love-love-love the Queen's very colorful and traditional designs. However, I have never seen the production of Folk Tale that preceded this one, so cannot make the comparison...which has most seasoned critics, at home and abroad, lamenting the changes. For example, many feel that the current Troll Costumes are too Disney-esque. Since I have no way to compare the two, I am satisfied.

The word for last night: Satisfaction.

Now on to the grand gala-finale tonight, which I may have to review upon my return to DC on Monday. We'll see. In the meantime...I'm so darn satisfied!

Natalia Nabatova

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Day Nine - Saturday, June 11

Bournonvilleana Gala

Three-hour event televised live on the D1 television network.

This was a truly grand gala, with the entire Royal Family and other theater-goers dressed to the nines. As I'm rushing back to America today, I will merely list the order of the program with a comment or two regarding highlights. Suffice it to say that, beside the closing Napoli Act III segments and the ensuing 10 minutes of fireworks outside over Kongens Nytorv, the highlights for me included Yao Wei/David Kupinski in the Kermesse pas de deux (with the musicality & flair that elluded the opening night pair), Diana Cuni/Thomas Lund in William Tell pdd, and a rare all-female Jockey Dance from From Siberia to Moscow (Gudrun Bojesen & Gitte Lindstrom).

Order of the Program

Entry of the Royal Family - Everybody was there...even a surprise one-time-only appearance by the Queen's husband, Crown Prince Henrik, whose 71st birthday was being celebrated that day. Also unusually, the national hymn of Denmark was played upon their entry into the box, as we all stood.

Overture from The Lay of Thrym - orchestra (I guess that this is all that's left from this Bournonville ballet, which the RDB 'revived' ca 1990, to little acclaim.

Opening Speech - Frank Andersen (Among other things, said that he hopes to see all of us again at the 4th Bournonville Festival, to be held no later than 13 years from now, in 2018. I hope we're all healthy & alive, Frank!)

Steps from 'The Bournonville School' - corps de ballet and all pupils from the RDB School, filling up the stage. A sight to behold!

Kermesse in Bruges opening scenes, Slovanka & Pas de deux - Yao Wei was spot-on perfect, in steps and musicality. David Kupinski was exciting, he reminds me of the young Nureyev in his energy and jump, if a bit rough around the edges. Kupinski is the wild panther among RDB men!

Flower Festival in Genzano pdd - Gudrun Bojesen and Mads Blangstrup. Sweet, neat, appreciated.

King's Lifeguards on Amager, Act II second half (Polanka pas de huit to the final Galop) - lots of great dancing but Tim Matiakis, in the Spanish pas de trois, and the 'Reel' ensemble were the standouts here.


Rare Bournonville segment opened the second half of the show.

William Tell pas de deux - Diana Cuni and Thomas Lund - they could not have selected two more perfect Bournonville specialists to perform this adorable dance. (I give Lund a special medal for wearing what has to be the most laughable costume of the night, although it mimics the 1873 lithographs: bright-red velvet lederhosen with short shorts and red knee-high socks...one of which slid down to his ankles during performance.)

The Troubadour solo - Tina Hojlund. Sparkling little Spanish dance on point, by yet another of my 'Bournonville Queens of the Dance.'

Paul et Virginie female pas de cinq - Yao Wei was the 'central among equals' in the middle of the group, other four dancers were Ellen Green, Camilla Ruelykke Holst, Christina Olsen, Izabela Sokolowska. My first look at this very pretty Bournonville rarity. Again, Yao Wei was astonishing for her brilliant technique (balances and centered pirouettes) cloaked in 19th-century gentility (softness).

La Lithuanienne solo - not by Bournonville but by one 'Fr. LeFevre' - Marie-Pierre Greve was her beautiful self in this little ditty, performed with a fur-trimed dress and cap.

Polka Militaire short pas de deux - Lesley Culver and Andrew Bowman sparkled.

'Jockey Dance' from From Siberia to Moscow - Gudrun Bojesen and Gitte Lindstrom brought down the house in this brief character piece of bravura one-upsmanship that is normally performed by two men. Our 'girls' did not alter one step & could give the years-ago combination of Ib and Frank Andersen a run for their money!

Rare 'Elfelt Film' from 1902-1905, showing the stars of that time, such as Borchenius & Beck, performing precious segments from Bournonville ballets..beginning with two males dancing the Jockey Dance that we had just seen. It's a shame that many in the audience chose to giggle during the dances.

Napoli Act III, from the Pas de Six to the end - although Gitte Lindstrom and Mads Blangstrup were Teresina and Gennaro, a cavalcade of stars performed during the Pas de Six and Tarantella portions. About 140-150 persons filled the stage, counting every child & super standing on the bridge. Tonight's piece de resistance. Wildly cheered & 'stomped' by the audience.

Final Bows to Lumbye's 'Salute to Bournonville' March - surprise! After the children and corps took their bows wearing, naturally, their Napoli costumes...all soloists and principals entered, each wearing a costume from a different Bournonville ballet (roles in which each performed during this festival). The final dancer's bows & honor of wearing the La Sylphide costumes went to Gudrun Bojesen and Thomas Lund. By then practically everyone in the packed auditorium was standing up, yelling and stomping their feet. Confetti and balloons rained overhead.

As if this were not enough, we all filed outside, standing in front of the theater, to witness a spectacular fireworks display in honor of August Bournonville. Happy 200th B-day!

Natalia Nabatova

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Thanks Natalia, for your Festival reviews which provide an informative comparative

perspective and, moreover, give us a "you are there" impression.

Thanks! I'm so sorry that's it's come to an end. Copenhagen has now been added to my 'Favorite Cities of the World' list, even if it did not have ballet! I hope to return some day, hopefully with my family because I know they'd love it as much as I do.

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SUMMARY (edited the Day Nine post to include only the report on the Final Bournonvilleana Gala)

I'm back home in DC, following nine fun-filled but slightly-exhausting days in Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen. As a way of summarizing my experiences at the festival, following are my Roses and Lemons Awards for the past week.


* All of the dancers, in general, for their dedication and great results in this difficult enterprise, which is such a big departure from their normal lives and standard repertoire. Not only did they rehearse and perform the programs but were available for classes and lecture-demonstrations, all under the scrutinizing eyes of the world's ballet press. Not the most relaxing of situations. My biggest rose is for them, as a group!

* The Royal Danish Theater's Press Office for an intelligent and inspiring series of educational events for us (lectures, backstage tours, exhibits, classes and professional social gatherings). Tak!

* The new staging of 'La Ventana' -- shortest but certainly among the most delightful of discoveries this week! -- performed in a new & rethought staging BUT one that is respectful of tradition and the spirit of Bournonville. (Lemons to the new productions that did not follow this spirit....see below.)

* Napoli - still the winner by a mile, garnering the loudest and lengthiest cheers of the entire festival, up to now. A repetition of its Act III all-dance segments closed the festival's gala. Wise choice.

* The glorious playing of all ballet scores by the Royal Danish Theater Orchestra.

* Queen Margrethe II for gracing us with her presence each and every night, as well as taking the time to meet with the press on Friday.

* Kings of the Bournonville Dance: Thomas Lund, Kristoffer Sakurai, Morten Egggert, & Nicolai Hansen (potentially others who weren't featured very much in the festival, these caught my eye consistently)

* Queens of the Bournonville Dance: Tina Hojlund, Diana Cuni, Gudrun Bojesen, Gitte Lindstrom & Femke Slot (ditto)

* Super-Mime, female: Lis Jeppesen

* Super-Mimes, male: Poul-Erik Hesselkilde, Flemming Ryberg, Peter Bo Bendixen


* The new Kermesse in Bruges, for those whitewashed adobe sets and un-danceable heavyish skirts that totally ruin the intended look of the classical dances

* Less awful but equally guilty of insensitive designs: the relatively-new Lifeguards on Amager...which still managed to be a 'winner' in the dancing & spirit, espcially its finale.

* The cramming of certain nights, e.g., pairing the entire Kermesse with La Ventana or the longish Lifeguards followed by Sylphide, which is performed on its own in many theaters......or, worst of all, the pairing of Far from Denmark with Konservatoriet as a closer. Many yawns & opening of candy wrappers were heard in the Balcony, despite the fact that both ballets were well performed & would be wonderful as openers on different nights.

Natalia Nabatova

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How lucky you were to have been in Copenhagen during this celebration. But we were the lucky ones to have you to report to us who couldnt make the trip. I feel like I was there in a way thanks to your very detailed reports. Yes Copenhagen is one of the best cities in the world! :)

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