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Finnish National Ballet 2012-2013 Season

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The company already opened with Cranko's Romeo and Juliet.. For anyone thinking of visiting Helsinki, the remainder of the season has premieres, revivals, classical, contemporary and Balanchine and a tour to the Bolshoi in the spring.


Le Corsaire * Ivan Liška / Petipa 21 Sept- 18 Oct

Manon Sir Kenneth MacMillan 26 Oct.- 10 Nov

The Snow Queen * Kenneth Greve 23 Nov - 22 Dec

Swan Lake Kenneth Greve 18 Jan- 15 Mar

Triple Bill* 15 Feb- 14 Mar

Bella Figura Kylian

Four Temperaments Balanchine

In the Middle Somewhat Elevated Forsythe

Triple Bill Nijinsky−Elo−Inger 28 Mar- 11May

Walking Mad Johan Inger

Double Evil Jorma Elo

Le Sacre Du Printemps Nijinsky

Sleeping Beauty Javier Torres/Petipa 23 May-30 May

Additionally, the company has been out and about in Finland with a summer tour, a fall tour to the Laplands, appearing on the Helsinki Culture Tram and Dance with the Dancers evening in October.

* Premiere

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An interesting, ambitious, and quite varied program. I love the idea of programming Balanchine's 4T's with those two pieces by Kylian and Forysthe. Thanks, swanchat, for posting this. I hope you'll tell us some of your impressions of performances as the season develops.

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I returned from a busy week in Helsinki only to be met with a leaking water heater followed by a nasty hurricane so I'm just now posting. Before I start my (first) amateur review of what I saw, I should give the disclaimer that my dk is in the corps.

I was fortunate to see a lot of the company while I was there. I saw 4 performances of Le Corsaire (I. Liška/Petipa). Unfortunately, Maria Baranova was injured and I wasn't able to see her dance. I saw her last year as a very new (and 19 year old) principal and was looking forward to seeing her growth into the position. She impressed me last year in her solo variations in Don Quixote but I felt she needed more growth into relating to her partner and others on stage (understandable for someone so young!) I wish her a speedy recovery. Tiina Myllymäki was Medora for the shows that I saw and she did a nice job. She is a beautiful young lady and has nice jumps. The fouettes at the end were shortened so I'm guessing she's a jumper more than a turner. Ilja Bolotov was very good as Ali- wonderful stage presence and energy. He was promoted to soloist while I was there- well deserved IMO. The opera house is wonderful with a lovely view of the lake and incredible staging capabilities. The scenery was wonderful and the use of modern screening and projection is well done. (Sorry, I'm not professional and don't know the terms).

An unexpected treat was the Choreography Workshop that was held whilst I was there. It was held in the smaller Almi Hall. It's an intimate venue and I really felt like I got a good look at the company as they performed in the new choreographies and I was impressed with the breadth of their abilities. The choreographies varied from solemn piece danced to Stabat Mater Dolorosa to a quirky and funny piece (can't recall the name) with three long-legged beautiful girls in rhinestone sunglasses performing as musical instruments.

To cap the week, the opera held an open house and I was able to view company class. Again, I was impressed with the dancers. I don't have the expertise to discuss the specifics but I enjoyed the adage and the grand allegro very much. It looked like the company members genuinely enjoy and care for one another the congeniality made watching the class that much more of a pleasure!

The company is now doing Manon and working on Greve's new Snow Queen. Swan Lake follows in the New Year and then 2 triple bills that the company will take on tour to Moscow in the spring.

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Thank you for your review! What a treat that you got to see so much of the company whilst you were there!

Question: do they allow visiting family members to watch company class at other times as well, or only when there is "open house"? Just curious.

I like the idea of Snow Queen; probably coloured somewhat by my memories of the illustrations by Adrienne Segur to one version of that story. :)


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I have no idea whether family members can watch company class at other times. My dd would absolutely not want me there unless others were invited so I dare not ask! It was such a treat though.

DD says Snow Queen is being staged with a ramp that comes over the orchestra pit in order to bring the dancers into the audience. The orchestra is not thrilled to have dancers over their heads so the ballet will be danced to original music written for the ballet that is recorded. The company has begun stage rehearsals and dd says they are going well.

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FNB's Snow Queen choreographed by Kenneth Greve is apparently a wild success. All tickets were sold out for the 15 scheduled performances and the public interest was so great that the Opera has added 6 more performances to meet the demand! I haven't seen it yet but since I was planning to go see Swan Lake, I am going to try to get tickets for one of the performances of Snow Queen. The music is a new score by Finnish composer Tuomas Kantelinen.I've seen photos of the costumes and make up and heard about the rhinestone covered Segway and can't wait to see it!

edited to update:

This morning, tickets went on sale for six more performances of Greve's Snow Queen. 9000 tickets sold in 2 hours. People were at the box office early and had traveled there during a horrendous blizzard!

Edited by swanchat
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Just to add...

The additional tickets completely sold out in 6 hours. They are bringing it and Nutcracker (I've heard) back next season and pre-selling tickets for Snow Queen now. The Finnish critics have loved it, the Finnish audiences have loved it. My dd tells me that the music is wonderful and that the ballet involves the audience. Light sticks are given to the children (not sure what they do with them) but last week my dd looked out of the window in her flat and saw a child walking around with his after the show. She said it made her feel special to be a part of that child's wonderment!

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I have just seen FNB dance in two of Greve's choreographed productions: Swan Lake and The Snow Queen. I liked both very much. Greve does a wonderful job utilizing the capabilites of this incredibly outfitted opera house. The use of the video screen is well integrated with the stories as is the ability to utilize two levels of stage and rising stages too. (I don't know the technical terms for this).

Swan Lake: Greve has "updated and tightened up the narrative...and avoided over-long conventional scenes." He also included a solo for Sigfried from Nureyev's version. Nureyev was Greve's mentor and this is meant to be an homage to him. As a result of the change in narrative, the ballet felt quite energetic. Sigfried falls in love with a girl instead of a bird which Greve says makes more sense to him that a prince falling in love with a bird. There is also an inferred unrequited love from Benno towards the Prince. In contrast to other Swan Lake's I've seen, the swan corps does very little standing on the sides and is partnered quite a lot. The corps seemed well rehearsed and moved together beautifully. The entire company seems to have lovely feet and energy. Andrew Bowman, former principal dancer with Royal Danish Ballet was the guest artist performing Siegfried; he has nice stage presence was an able partner for FNB etoile Petia Ilieva but he did have a few missteps. Benno was played by Xiaoyu He, a new corps member this year and he was outstanding. He's a beautiful dancer with great jumps and turms and incredible stage presence. He received the largest applause of the evening. The cygnet pas de quatre was well danced although one little swan seemed a bit lost for a count or two. The Pas de Trois was beautifully danced by He and Rauserova and newly nominated soloist, Haakana although I preferred the women in the next night's cast (principals) Nakagawa and Myllymaki. I just felt that their footwork was lighter. The costumes where beautiful and the scaled down scenery seems perfect for a Finnish Swan Lake. Altogether, a very enjoyable evening.

The Snow Queen (Greve): This is a new piece in the repertoire and WOW what an extravaganza! The story is adapted from Hans Christian Anderson's tale of the same name. The music is an original score by Finnish composer Tuomas Kantelinen. What beautiful music! The ballet is narrated and has subtitiles (just like the opera) in Finnish, Swedish and English. The set design is fabulous. The setting is 19th century Helsinki and the backdrop of Helsinki's Senate Square for the traditional Finnish Dance "Jenkka" was well-done with projection. The mirror which shatters and is the center of the narrative is huge and hung in the center and the technical ability of the opera house is once again used very well to convert the shiny mirror to a shattered piece of glass. Costumes and makeup were fabulous: loved the sparkle of the snow flakes and the traditional Lapland costumes too. The Evil Snow Queen rides a very sparkly Segway at one point and aside from the fact that it's an anachronism, it added an edge that was interesting. The most stunning scene is the sauna scene. The scene begins with the Lapland cabin rising up in the air to reveal the sauna teeming with creatures of the underground (again, fabulous makeup). The men of the company are incredible as the goulish creatures in this dance as they use body percussion and very earthy grunts. The corps of snowflakes seemed well-rehearsed and their sharp arms and hands were reminscent of the stars in Ashton's Cinderella. Principal Tina Myllymaki plays the cold and evil snow queen to perfection. Johan Pakkanen as the kidnapped Kai and Linda Haakana as his best friend are played with innocence and lovely technique. After the performance, it was announced that both were nominated as solosists with the company. The character dances seemed to be the weak part of the ballet with the exception of the Swedish Dance danced with energy by corps members Mira Ollila and Nikolas Koskivirta.

This is a ballet meant to be family friendly and extols the virtues of tolerance, compassion and love. It's a feel good ballet! The children even get to help save the young man who has been kidnapped by the snow queen by using glow sticks that are given to them during the intermission. This ballet is so popular that performances were added to this season and the additional performances sold out in hours. The Snow Queen will return next season and tickets are already on sale and 65% sold already. To say it's a hit is an understatement.

Greve, the Artistic Director of FNB since 2008 has a talented group of dancers who are in good form at all levels: from corps to soloist and principal and etoile. The company will be touring to Moscow to participate in the Njiinksy tribute this spring. The Finnish government has announced budget cuts to the opera for next year. I hope that the Minister of Culture can work with the Opera Board to minimize the cuts to personnel. It would be sad to see the positive momentum that Greve has created be slowed down by budget cuts.

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