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RDB on tour again - mixed bill

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The RDB’s guest performance in Aarhus last week with The Lesson, Limon's Unsung, Balanchine's Tchaikovski Pas de Deux and excerpts from La Bayadère didn't do much to make up for the disappointments of their Sleeping Beuaty on tour two weeks earlier. With no orchestra and no backdrops or seet pieces, except for The Lesson, it felt like discount but at full price.

The only real highlight was The Lesson: Ida Praetorius and Maria Bernholdt were excellent, Praetorius a longlimbed, naive and slightly impertinent pupil, hungry for life to begin. Maria Bernholdt was terrific, too: simply the best pianist I have ever seen. She was the real terror in that room, all tight fury and possessiv but powerless control, and underneath it all, a burning jealousy. The bond between her and Mads Blangstrup's teacher was a scary one! Blangstrup was, to my taste, like most other dancers in that role, too obvious in his madness, but still very convincing. Flindt himself (he danced in the very first television-version from 1963 with Josette Amiel as the pupil and again 10 years later in a the Danish television-production with Anne Marie Vessel) had a more ambiguous approach to the role, which made it more terrifying. When the teacher is too obviously creepy right from the start, like Blangstrup, and Thomas Lund too, it is difficult to understand the behaviour of the pupil: Why on earth does she try and impress a creap like him?

José Limon’s ”Unsung”, a tribute to the native american culture and history is a ballet without music for 8 male dancers, the only accompanyment is the sound of the their feet and breath. The ballet is from 1971 and it felt oddly outdated, and extremely longdrawn.

Alban Lendorf and J’aime Crandall danced the Tchaikovski Pas de Deux with all the charm and bravura they could put into this show-off piece, but it was difficult to digest the sudden shift in style, coming from the rough and primitivistic barefoot dance of ”Unsung” just one minute earlier. They could at least have made a decent break between the two ballets instead of delivering them with barely time to take a look at the programme sheet. The rest of the programme – excerpts from La Bayadère – was delivered with the same haste. Presented on a completely empty stage, the costumes of La Bayadère looked a bit harsh in their fluorescent colour quality. Among the dancers especially the four men and two women in pink stood out, amongst them the newly appointed soloist Chemelensky, but also Alexander Bozinoff (another young dancer with a good bounce) and Charles Andersen were brilliant. I wonder if Charles Andersen is the next soloist to be appointed? The two pink ladies, Christina Michanek and Caroline Baldwin, had some very exquisite solos with lots of finely chiselled choreography, which they delivered with grace and great care of detail. The two soloists Ulrik Birkkjær and Amy Watson were not quite up to their normal standard, though Watson impressed with a very secure deliverance of a series of immaculate fouettés.

I hope, the next time the RDB tours the provinces they will not do it without an orchestra. They shouldn’t lower their standard in that way, though I know they have great financial cut backs to struggle with.But people were disappointed and had clearly expected an orchestra in the pit, especially because the prices were the same as when they toured with Sleeping Beauty.

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Anne, I've been waiting till I'd seen this programme in Copenhagen before I commented - though as it turned out it was rather different, with Chroma instead of The Lesson, no Tchaikovsky pas de deux, and the whole of the Shades scene instead of the engagement scene from Bayadere.But there was no orchestra there either - not just an economy they saved for their out-of-Copenhagen tour. Admittedly they'd only have had the Shades scene to play, but even so it was a pity. I saw the programme twice and by the end I'd got to like The Unsung much more than when they first did it a couple of years ago, and it's a very good piece for some of the older dancers.

Eva Kistrup reviewed a couple of different nights:

First cast

Second cast

And my own review is here.

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A belated comment to that:

It does surprise me, that they cut the orchestra even in their own house, but at least these programmes are sold as "Dance2Go", which is the name of a series of shorter programmes at a substantially lower prize.

Maybe I will have to give "Unsung" a second chance some day. Like Eva Kistrup points out in her review, some of the dancers, trained as they are in defeating gravity, are simply not the right type for this kind of ballet, where gravity is a fundamental parameter. It might be that a different cast could have shed another light on the choreography. Funny enough, in the cast I saw I was most surprised by Charles Andersen, whom I would have considered a too classical dancer for this kind of chorerography: Normally he has a very clean cut style and a very pure air around him, but here he was pure "rubber" and could bend his body and roll around the floor like he had no bones, and with an almost animalistic air to his presence. It actually took me some time to recognize him! He and James Clark, who did what I suppose must be the Red Eagle-solo (why don't they tell us this kind of things in the printed programme?) because of the many balances with the arms spread out like huge wings (one of the most impressive single "pictures" in the ballet by the way) were in my opinion the most convincing of the soloists and most in accordance with the intensions of the ballet.

Originally there were 8 solos. I can't remember if they did 4 or 5 here. But I think it wise to cut down on the numbers, when they don't have more dancers with the right charisma for it. It was ertainly long enough as it was!

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