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Nary a one. There was a "Napoli" VHS that's no longer in circulation and a "La Sylphide" that was on videodisk, and that's it. There aren't any even in Copenhagen -- the first time I went there I was sure I'd find a treasure trove, but there aren't any. There are quite a few ballets that were shown on Danish TV from the 1960s on, but they haven't been released and I was told it's unlikely that they would be, because of union problems (paying royalties to the dancers and the musicians).

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"they haven't been released and I was told it's unlikely that they would be"....

That is an exceedingly depressing commentary...in this age of technological wonders, to have nothing publicly available of a major company's work. It seems very isolationist and parochial, frankly..... other companies resolve the issue of paying royalties. There is a record of their work, too, for the artistic community outside Copenhagen.

Very, very sad.

I had hoped that they'd record/release the Bournonville Festival this year--good or bad, it would be a document of a major company, at a particular moment in history, performing work by a major choreographer. The insularity is characteristic but continues to disturb me.

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It seems they are considering DVD releases as a "next project". Don't know when, though.

The closing night gala of the Festival was broadcasted live on Danish TV, but that's it for now.

I don't think the Bournonville School double-DVD is available outside the theatre on Kongens Nytorv.

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Hate to burst anyone's bubble but....

Funny who happened to have the seat next to me on the SAS flight from Copenhagen to Wash, DC, after the festival -- the representative of a US video-DVD company. S/he had been at the festival in negotiations with the Royal Danish Theater and was UNABLE to secure a commitment for the DVDs. S/he was very disappointed.

So it is 'straight from the horses's mouth' so to speak. darn... :wacko:

Maybe the theater will reconsider, later.


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There are quite a few ballets that were shown on Danish TV from the 1960s on,

I remember that the Danish TV did broadcast many of Flemming Flindt ballets, I was so happy that I had the opportunity to watch them in Sweden. "Salome" was the one that got most publicity because Vivi Flindt danced naked for a minute or two.


I also was lucky to see the closing night gala of the Bournonville Festival.

I wish that Danish TV could open the archives and release all the good stuff they have.

Edited by Dr. Coppelius
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You would think that all parties, especially orchestra and dancers' unions, would see the marketing advantages of distribution of performance dvds. The Royal Danish Ballet is a potential world brand that is being de-valued by this outdated and narrow-minded approach.

The same appears to be true about NYCB (and the Balanchine monopoly in general), and other major companies that tour infrequently. "We're so special, you have to come and find us." Just how DO they imagine they will be able to develop the audiences of the future, especially now that touring for many large companies (in high-cost, non-subsidized economies)is in decline.

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We have a wonderful dance library in Montreal and I had the chance to watch the Bournonville School 2-DVD set: what a treasure it is!

The classes are filmed on stage on a black background with a camera facing the dancer. For the barre variation, a second camera films the right leg's variations sideways, so we get to see the variations from the 2 angles. The dancers are dressed in pale colours. We see everything, unlike some dance films that treat dance as a non-dance topic and cut the feet, or worse, make close-ups (I always get offended: it would be as if when recording an orchestra playing, to focus on the viola we would erase the remainder of the orchestra…). The female dancer unfortunately wears a skirt, hiding the legs and the hips but she’s does the barre on pointes. And when we're being told to stay on our jambe de base, that's what it means: no-thing moves. The same for holding the working leg: it is held. I particularly enjoyed the richness of head movements.

The technique is flawless and all variations are performed by excellent dancers with perfect épaulement, hips, knees, head movements, arm positions. Only I noticed that the male dancer at the barre does not close his fifth or his first position: is there less stress on closing the positions in the Bournonville school?

The variations? oh dear... apart from being beautiful and very musical, they are extremely challenging: the third variation at the barre on Monday consists of grands battements jetés (yes), and is fairly simple: 96 of them... The Wednesday rond de jambe variation is a challenge of coordination. The variations in the center are all that and particularly rich and so well performed. It is all lightness, the feet being like feathers brushing the floor.

I truly enjoyed it. Well presented, beautiful black & white introduction at the beginning, each DVD having a very informative presentation by dance historian Erik Aschengreen on August Bournonville and the Bournonville school. In "conversations about Bournonville", the style is discussed, differences between class and stage, Russian and Bournonville mime, and the excerpts of rehearsal of La Sylphide make you want to attend the rehearsal. It is so well filmed.

I am now dying to see a Bournonville Sylphide. I want to go to Denmark.

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Hans, the 2-disk Bournonville School can be purchased at the RDB's home theater, the Royal Theater, in Copenhagen. You can also purchase a multi-disk set of CDs with the music to all existing Bournonville ballets, minus Abdallah.

Contact information for the theater's shop may be found on this site (although there doesn't seem to be an 'on-line shop' per se):


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Hans, be warned: you may find that you also have to buy the two books (one with details of the steps, the other with the music) that come with the DVDs, and they are VERY heavy - postage must be horrendous. Also the set costs about 50 pounds, I believe. (Though personally I think it's worth every penny - I watch it almost every day!)

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A little late to the game, but I'm of the opinion that the folks in Copenhagen aren't trying to keep their Bournonville a secret by not putting it out for the general public. The costs of paying royalties to the artists is most likely a sticking point in negotiations which is why there weren't DVD's available at the festival--a location where there would be an obvious audience of international interest.

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