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Ida Praetorius

Syrene Hvid

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Seeing that Praetorius debuted in the title role of the world premiere of Lolita at the Bellevue Theatre yesterday, I thought it was about time that this heavily promoted soloist at the RDB got her own thread.

I've pretty much "travelled" with Praetorius the entire way. One of my first stage experiences was her debut as the student in The Lesson, opposite of Thomas Lund in 2011 when she was still only an apprentice. To this date, I don't think I've seen her dance as ravishing and intensely as that night. She almost outshone the performance of La Sylphide that followed.

Since then, I've seen her in various leading roles, like Emma in Hübbe's La Bayadere and Dewdrop in Balanchine's Nutcracker - and last season, as Marguerite in Lady of the Camellias and Odette/Odile in Swan Lake.

Like I said, of all the roles I've seen her in, I was definitely most impressed by her student in The Lesson. It was raw and intense and very, very well executed, just the fact that I still remember it clearly now, four years later, speaks to its caliber. Emma in La Bayadère was a very fitting role for Praetorius and the technical execution was quite impressive (though, I think I remember a review mentioning that the tempo had been lowered in the wedding solo), but acting-wise it felt flat and two-dimensional. She was extremely cute as Dewdrop in The Nutcracker and danced very well, but again - it felt a bit empty. Devoid of any real connection. These are not necessarily the most interesting roles in terms of acting, I know, but I've seen other dancers do it, so my hope and belief is that it should be possible for Praetorius, too. That it will be, in the future.

Finally, last season, Hübbe really turned up the Praetorius Promotion Volume to max. First, she debuted as Marguerite in Lady of the Camellias and although her cast had quite a few issues, I think the main issue was her. Her Marguerite, to me, seemed immature throughout the entire first act, completely unengaging - not until the black PDD did she stir anything in me as a character. I will give her this, though. I have never seen anyone perform the black PDD as well as she and Andreas Kaas did. No one. My heart was in my throat the entire time, for all the right reasons. Lastly, she also debuted as Odette/Odile in Hübbe's new production of Swan Lake (even lent her face to the large posters all over Copenhagen). I saw her dance with Sebastian Haynes and there were parts of the white act where she was flawless. The first pas de deux between Odette and Siegfried had a couple of hiccups, but the emotion was overwhelming. I literally started crying, seeing it. Not to mention how Praetorius danced the coda so feathers actually tore off her costume, so much passion and desperation. I'm not sure I'll ever see a coda as moving as hers. Nevertheless, she failed her fouettes as Odile - which in itself isn't a dealbreaker to me, but it seemed like she mentally couldn't push past the hurdle of her mishap and throughout the entirety of the ballroom scene, she couldn't really slip back into character, looking quite upset the entire time. All of this indicates to me that she needs to mature in the acting-department especially before being able to hold a stage like the principal ballerinas of the RDB can, like no other.

If I'm completely honest, my feelings on Ida Praetorius are, thus, quite mixed. I definitely think she deserved her promotion to soloist last year, but I get the distinct feeling tha Hübbe is pushing her (very quickly) up the ranks, perhaps hoping to have her fill out the shoes of Gudrun Bojesen who is retiring next year. However, judging from what I've seen from her, I'd hate to see her being promoted to principal next season, not because I don't see potential in her (you'd have to be blind not to see that this girl is a rising star!), but because I feel that she - and us, as the audience who will be paying to come see her dance - could benefit from a little time. With all her technical skill and her very frank, very raw acting, trying her hands on big parts (not necessarily leading roles all of them) would hopefully polish off the edges and eventually present us with a dancer who has both the technical skill that I (everything else aside) admire in a dancer like Gudrun Bojesen along with the amazing expressiveness of a dancer like my beloved Susanne Grinder. The best of the RDB ballerina, boiled down into one tiny body. But only time can do that, time and some invested, patient coaching.

I want Ida Praetorius to become a principal. I really do. I think she is exactly what the RDB needs... Eventually. However, I don't think her time is yet and I definitely think she needs to grow more before I'll feel comfortable paying for front row seats to a performance led by her.

Tomorrow, I'll be seeing her in Lolita and I hope to see this new ballet unveil new and exciting aspects of her dancing. Perhaps the role will fit her just right (like I heard Juliet did, I've only seen a pas de deux from it this summer and it didn't quite convince me, but an outdoor stage without sets and lighting does take from the experience) and I'll finally fall completely in love with this dancer who I can objectively tell is absolutely wonderful.

Have any of you seen Praetorius in anything? If yes, what? What was your experience of her?

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I have seen Ida in the Bournonville rep (Flower Festival, Napoli pas de six) where she is absolutely delightful. I also saw her at the Erik Bruhn competition in Toronto, which she won, at the tender age of 19. She is a beautiful dancer, still very young, and I'm sure the shortcomings you've noted will be erased with time and experience.

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A couple of weeks ago, I saw Praetorius in Lolita, but never got around to write about it. I'll rectify that now!

Lolita was a very enjoyable ballet with a perfect, albeit very small cast, Ida Praetorius as the title character of Lolita. All the female dancers dance in slippers, except Lolita's mother (brilliantly danced) on pointe. You could tell that this role had been created for Praetorius, because it really catered to all her strengths and her youthfulness. Her acting was amazing and it was what struck me the most, because it's something I've kind of missed from her a little bit. Mimicry, yes, but mostly she let her body talk for her and it was absolutely wonderful to watch - if any of you have watched the recording of the RDB Swan Lake on youtube, her interpretation of Lolita was a bit like her Neapolitan princess, but on drugs.

It did something to her dancing, not being confined to pointe shoes. I read in an interview that after a growth spurt in her teens, she struggled to regain her balance point and I've sometimes had a feeling that being on pointe limits her freedom in terms of movement. Not that she isn't brilliant on pointe, but she just seemed... so much more at ease and much more natural in her range dancing Lolita in slippers than when she's on pointe. I completely fell in love with her and honestly appreciate her amazing body mechanics. She was like a perfectly strung instrument.

When I left the theatre, I even felt kind of sad that I don't live in Copenhagen, so I would be able to catch another performance of the show. I'd like to see how it would develop throughout the run. Ah well. At least, I've seen the light when it comes to Praetorius now!

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There's a long interview with Ida Praetorius currently in the Danish newspaper Politiken, pegged to the roles she's been dancing in Balanchine's Nutcracker. It takes her from her stage debut - a 10-second appearance in A Folk Tale when she was 9 - to her recent Odette/Odile, when she sat on the floor in the wings and thought she just didn't have the strength for her next entrance (though the music carried her through, fortunately).

( I tried Google translate but for some reason it only gave me the first couple of paragraphs.)

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Now that Ida has been promoted to principal dancer and the repertory for next season has been announced, what could you imagine she'd be given of roles on the other side of summer? She's the header for Swan Lake along with Marcin Kupinski whom she danced with last time, so I think it's safe to assume she'll be dancing Odette/Odile again, most likely even on opening night. Giselle is running simultaneously with Swan Lake, though, so I'm not so sure she'll be given the lead there... Maybe they're saving Giselle for the more seasoned principals, Crandall and Grinder? On the other hand, I know she's performed the second act PDD at a gala, so they might already be instructing her in the role... I don't know, time will tell! I think there's a good chance that she'll get Alice in Alice in Wonderland, both because they're doing so many performances and will need many casts, but also because it's a role that would really suit her strengths and her charisma. I could also imagine that they'll be using her in quite a lot of the Bournonville extracts in the mixed bills and the Romeo and Juliet PDD... I couldn't imagine it wouldn't go to her and Kaas. I'm curious as to whether she'll get the lead in Dangerous Liaisons, since the choreographer has worked with her before in Lolita last year. If nothing else, Ida has been promoted ahead of a season that seems almost tailor-made for her, so that should prove interesting to follow.

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