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Gudrun Bojesen's last performance


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Gudrun Bojesen will perform for the last time on October 15. It has not been announced what she will dance, only that it is her evening. I wrote somewhere else on this site that there were very few tickets on sale, especially no good ones, but that has changed: A contingent of good tickets, mainly in the stalls and in one of the first upper circles, have been set on sale today.

Link to the theatre's page: https://kglteater.dk/det-sker/sason-20162017/ballet/gudrun-bojesens-aften/

There is no description in English.


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The farewell night for Gudrun Bojesen was a bit untraditional. Instead of letting her perform one of her chore roles, the theatre had put together a mix of interviews, ballet excerpts and video clips. Nikolaj Hübbe was the conferencier of the evening. Probably this way of doing things was due to the facts that Bojesen has been on maternity leave from the theatre for a long time and that she is not – and has never been – cast in any of the running productions. To "warm up" one of the former productions just in her honour was apparently too costly and – I don't know – maybe also too big an effort on her side. These are just my guesses.


The programme opened with The Jockey Dance by Bournonville showcasing Gudrun together with her close colleague and fellow prinicpal dancer, Gitte Lindstrøm (who has recently retired). It is a high spirited bagatelle about two competing jockeys, and it was a charming idea to have it performed by two dancers, who have practically grown up together at the royal ballet school and who have, of course, always been competitors (but it certainly looked like friendship had survived the competitive nature of their relationship!). As dancers they have both been very versatile with a strong technique and blessed with a physical strength enabling them to be equally good in adagios as well as allegros. They have shared much of the repertoire, but it has always come out very different due to their artistic temperaments, which couldn’t differ more.


By the end of the Jockey Dance the unpleasant discovery had sunk in: No orchestra in the pit. The feeling of a low-budget-evening was unavoidable.


After The Jockey Dance followed an interview session led by Erik Aschengreen, who is an institution in the Danish ballet world and whose books cover the history of the company during the last 5 or 6 decades. Bojesen and three of her partners took place in a red sofa: Ulrik Birkkjær, Nikolaj Hübbe and her only long term partner: Thomas Lund. On a big screen, introduced by Aschengreen, we saw a series of video clips with highlights from Bojesen’s long and impressive career, showing the wide range of her talent: We saw excepts from Bournonville’s A Folk Tale, Lander’s Festpolonaise, Neumeier’s Lady of the Camellias, Jiří Kylián’s Silk and Knife, Balanchine’s Dances at a Gathering, Flindt’s The Lesson and finally Nikiya's solo in La Bayadère. Between the clips the dancers were asked questions about their relationship with Bojesen, and Bojesen herself were asked about different aspects of her life as a dancer. This part of the programme was rounded off with a clip from Ulrik Wivel’s short film ”Jeg Dig Elsker” ("I You Love" – my translation), showing Hübbe directing Bojesen and Mads Blangstrup in one of the central mime scenes of La Sylphide.


As this long sequence was over we finally had some live dance again, though not immediately: On the screen we saw Blangstrup and Bojesen in the pas de deux from “The Flowerfest of Genzano” in a take from the Bournonville Festival in 2005. Midway through the pas de deux two young dancers, Ida Praetorius and Andreas Kaas, appeared beneath the screen, at first visible only as silhouettes, but then, as the light on the screen faded, they gradually came into full stage light and took over the pas de deux. They are both delightful dancers and a very good promise for the future – there is a wonderful bouncing quality to Kaas' high jumps. However, it is an eye opening experience to watch them immediately after Blangstrup and Bojesen, who, at the time of the festival, were at the very height of their powers and artistic maturity. There is still a long way to go for the young dancers before they can deliver with the freedom and apparent spontaneity of their predecessors That is why it is so important to have both young and less young dancers in the company.


With the amazing video of the first pas de deux from The Lady of Camellias in fresh memory, the live performance of the white pas de deux from the second act was looked forward to with great anticipation. Again Birkkjær was her partner. Apart from a short struggle with one of the many complicated lifts, it was a delight to watch the spontaneous and uninhibited way of their partnership. I never saw them as ideal partners, neither physically nor artistically, but their display of Marguerite and Armand's intense happiness and absorption in one another was a heartrending experience and rang absolutely true here.


After the interval, we, the audience, was given a surprise: Thomas Lund and Bojesen did the dance of the old Quaker couple from Galeotti's ballet “ The Whims of Cupid and the Ballet Master” , their stoic and stone faced manners giving cause to much laughter in the audience. Another surprise interlude was a long row of dancers and choreographers sending Gudrun a greeting on video: Kylián, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Ulrik Wivel, Anne Marie Vessel, Frank Andersen, Mads Blangstrup and many more.


After this, three casts from the new Giselle production (premiere in a fortnight) danced a pas de deux from the second act, one couple taking over from the other: J'aime Crandall/Gregory Dean, Ida Praetorius/Andreas Kaas and Holly Dean Dorger/Ulrik Birkkjær. Apparently it was the wish of the dancers to show this pas de deux to Gudrun – probably her great interpretation of Giselle has been a source of inspiration to the dancers.


Giselle was followed by the Pas de Trois from La Ventana danced by Dean, Kizzy Mattiakis and Alba Nadal. Bojesen directed la Ventana a couple of seasons ago, which must have been the reason for choosing this for the programme. Kizzy Matiakis is the new principal dancer in the company, which is very well deserved, but Bournonville is not one of her strongest points, she is a bit to controlled to my taste in that repertoire (though she was a marvelous Birthe in A Folk Tale – mostly due to her acting abilities which are formidable–that is one of the reasons why I would love to see her Odette/Odile).


Right from the beginning it was clear that we wouldn't get much dance from Bojesen, and therefore  every scrap of live dance was looked forward to with eagerness. A pas de deux from the second act of La Sylphide was the finale of the evening. Thomas Lund, who stopped his dancing career four  years ago to be director of the Royal Danish Ballet School had a guest appearance as her James – it was a nice gesture but maybe not a great idea artistically. But it seemed important to have him by her side. He was her long term partner during the first decade of the centenary, a partnership that stopped when Hübbe took over and wasn't replaced by a new one – it seems Hübbe is against the idea of long-term partnerships. Probably it can be a hindrance of development if the partnership stagnates, but in some cases a perfect match can add an extra dimension to the dance. Many of us had hoped for a coupling of Lendorf and Bojesen, as they looked nearly perfect together in Swan Lake. I personally think they could both have grown in a more permanent partnership – the younger can learn a lot from the more experienced dancer, and the more experienced can get fresh inspiration and new vitality from the younger.


To end the evening with a death scene, not as the natural ending of a full ballet but completely detached from it, is, when not downright bad taste, just not a happy choice. But apart from that, the evening ended on a very happy note, with the Koppel jazz duo (piano and saxophone) playing a dreamy tune on stage while Bojesen received a red rose from a long row of male partners in the company. She looked really happy, and I'm sure she herself was happy with the night's programme, having  received so much proof of her popularity, both with her colleagues, who in many ways showed their huge gratitude towards her – she has apparently been an extremely generous, helpful and inspiring colleague – and with us, her audience. The only thing embittering the joy a little is that she has been so very absent from the stage during the last 5 years, giving all her great roles away to younger dancers. We – or at least I – have missed her in Swan Lake, La Bayadère, Nutcracker, La Sylphide and many other ballets, where she could have shone with her rare talent, but did not, for what reasons I don't know, but it is sad no matter what. The finality of an evening like this is always a bit overwhelming, but it was a great joy to see, that she, the central person of the event, looked really happy at the prospects of her new life – and new career, as many called it – as mother of a lovely little boy, whom we had the pleasure of seeing in one of the video clips. 


All the best wishes, Gudrun, and a heartfelt THANK YOU for everything you have given to us, your audience!






Edited by Anne
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Thank you so much for your well-written account of Gudrun's evening, Anne.


Unfortunately, we weren't there to experience it, but Instagram definitely came alive the whole weekend with praise and love for her from the dancers, in particular. It was wonderful to see what an incredible source of inspiration she's been for them all (and her fans alike). 

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