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Ballet de Luxe

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I went to the premiere of this gala programme and thoroughly enjoyed myself. From start to finish, the quality of the dancing was excellent and it was lovely to hear the audience embrace the format so loudly with lots of cheering and applause, too.


Of the three acts, I thought the first act with its Bournonville focus was the weakest link where Jon Axel Fransson and Kizzy Matiakis in the Wilhelm Tell PDD made for the best part with lots of high spirits and solid dancing. I think I would have loved Amy Watson and Sebastian Haynes in the Flower Festival PDD, if I didn't think the orchestra lacked finesse in the musical department and the tempo botched some parts of the dancing that I personally thought could have been spectacular, but instead seemed horribly rushed. The ballabile from Napoli was probably included to finish off strong, but the execution wasn't the best I've seen and somehow the dancing seemed out of place, outside of its context. I look forward to seeing the programme again in April, just to see if it was a one-time thing and it'll make more sense on second viewing.


The second part of the evening with various PDD to show the development of the art form from romantic ballets such as Coppelia and Swan Lake to more recent works a la Balanchine and Neumeier was, as I experienced it, the best part of the evening and the gala form seemed to urge the Danish crowd to really clap and cheer. Coppelia was danced wonderfully by Silvia Selvini and Andreas Kaas - they fit each other well as dancers and were both very cute and full of energy in their dancing. I think this is one of the biggest parts yet that Selvini has danced and she really shone through with lots of personality and large-scale movements. Her sweetness radiated all the way up to where I was sitting on the 1st floor. Kaas was his usual charming self and danced on a large scale, but without ever forgetting the fun and charm of the choreography. They made for a great partnership and earned a well-deserved ovation.


Ida Praetorius and Marcin Kupinski danced the Black Swan PDD and danced it very well. Expression-wise Praetorius didn't reach me all the way up to where I was sitting, but her dancing was very solid, good and sharp. Kupinski's dancing was equally solid and his solo was wonderfully executed, especially the part before the fouettes when he starts turning and the two of them, Praetorius and Kupinski, strike a rhythm that's in complete unison, it looked great.


The Tchaikovsky PDD is a favourite choreographic piece for me and I had really looked forward to seeing it danced by Holly Dorger and Alban Lendorf on opening night. They made a remarkable show of it and were both strong, large-scale and precise in their dancing. Dorger had a dramatic presence in her movements that was wow-worthy, along with great musicality and some sharp legwork that was quite an inspiration to look at. Her abundance of energy and her beautiful composure could be felt all the way up to my seat and she looked completely dazzling. Lendorf was strong and precise in his dancing and danced with a high energy and struck lots of sharp poses that really earned him a great response from the audience. I was especially mesmerized by his turns that just went on and on without losing in their pacing at all. Together they were a great match and I do hope to see them dance together again in the future.


Finally the second part of the evening was finished off with the balcony PDD from Neumeier's Romeo and Juliet. I was very happy to see that they didn't go for the bedchamber PDD again, because that's the one that's usually chosen and it is my least favourite, especially out of context. The balcony PDD suited the gala format quite well and was a beautiful rematch for me, danced by J'aime Crandall and Gregory Dean. They are a gorgeous match for Juliet and Romeo and their dancing really proved that they can perform young, fresh roles in a young, fresh and genuine manner. I thoroughly enjoyed their interpretations and their dancing was effortless, despite all the difficult lifts. The drama and the love in this scene came across strongly and I felt myself feeling with these young lovers, even though the scene was out of context and there would never be a resolution in this programme. I think that speaks to their dramatic skills.


The programme ended with Theme and Variations that was danced by Caroline Baldwin and Jonathan Chmelensky on this night. I was happy to see these two again, because they'd improved their partnership immensely since the last time Theme and Variations was on the season programming. Baldwin danced with a regal softness that really fitted the piece and although she never quite seemed to connect fully with Chmelensky in the PDD, the dancing was very pretty and really finished the night off strongly. Chmelensky was secure and strong in his dancing, played with his energy levels constantly, going from slow to quicker to slow again and it worked very well. He's definitely one of my favourite male dancers in the company and I would love to see him made principal soon. He deserves the title and they could need another man of his talents in their principal ranks. The corps did well with the piece, danced with lots of energy and got through the steps with strength and precision, though I hope to see them dance just a bit more in synch when I go see them next - they got better and better throughout the run last time, so I'm hoping the same will happen here.


All in all, I personally thought this gala programme was a big success.


Have anyone else attended or will be attending one of the upcoming shows?

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I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to revisit the Ballet the Luxe program yesterday and from seats way up front, so the experience was an entirely new one, although the cast was (for the most part) the same as the premiere cast. Yesterday the Queen also attended and it was quite the buzz amongst the audience, like it often seems to be.


Seeing Sebastian Haynes and Amy Watson up close in Flower Festival made me appreciate them in the piece even more and the music was beautiful this time around, too. Especially Haynes did an amazing job with some stunning jumps and leaps and an energy that just filled the room with joy. Watson looked beautiful with a warm sweetness about her that suited the choreography well and her dancing was great throughout.


The ballabile was beautifully danced by the corps and soloists and I was especially enamored with Alexander Bozinoff's initial solo. Everyone really threw themselves into it and you kind of felt the Italian heat and the passion of the setting.


Once more the Wilhelm Tell PDD was a fun and entertaining addition to the first act and wonderfully danced by Kizzy Matiakis and Jon Axel Fransson. They did a remarkable job and caused some laughs in the audience with their cute interaction. It was nice seeing a piece of choreography that isn't performed very often and given a go, even if only in part and I really thought the high spirits of the piece fitted the entire Bournonville segment perfectly.


All in all, I thought the Bournonville section was much improved since the first viewing and really shows that the style is still alive and well in the company.


The second part of the program was divided between Silvia Selvini and Andreas Kaas, Ida Praetorius and Marcin Kupinski, Holly Dorger and Guilherme De Menezes (on exchange from ENB) and finally, J'aime Crandall and Gregory Dean.


The act started off in high spirits with a beautifully danced Coppelia PDD where Selvini looked absolutely gorgeous in her cute costume opposite a sparkling and energy-filled Kaas. Selvini was so beautiful throughout her entire choreography with both some wonderful solos and a good partnership with Kaas, that she still earned a loud, earnest and much deserved applause despite an unfortunate fall near the very end of her final variation. Kaas danced with lots of attitude and made a great partner for Selvini, they suited each other very well in stature, looks and expression.


I wasn't smitten with the Black Swan PDD as it was danced last night by Praetorius and Kupinski, I thought it looked somewhat stiff and lacked musicality, but both Praetorius and Kupinski still poured a good amount of attitude and acting into their portrayals. Praetorius ended her fouettes some beats before the music and travelled quite a lot, though the first moment of that final part of the coda when both Kupinski and Praetorius were turning looked as great as on the premiere. Although I sat closer than on the premiere, I thought they did a better job the first time I saw them.


In the Tchaikovsky PDD, Dorger this time danced with a dancer on the OJD exchange program, De Menezes, and I don't know whether this was his debut in the piece, it wasn't indicated in the cast list, but I thought he was very promising and had some good solos, even if his partnering skills didn't fully live up to those of Alban Lendorf in the powerhouse performance on the premiere. Dorger had only grown since last time I saw her in this and her solos were incredibly beautifully danced, especially the second one which was breathtaking to look at. She harbours a great drama in all her movements and yet holds on to a sweetness and sincerity in her expression that strengthened her interaction with De Menezes just with a few glances. They did have a lovely connection when dancing together and he himself had a calm energy about him. I enjoyed this segment of the second act a lot, really loved it.


Finally we finished off with the Balcony PDD from Neumeier's Romeo and Juliet - after a long wait yet again, while the balcony was installed. Danced by Crandall and Dean, it was a treat seeing their partnership unfold once more up close and I decided while watching them dance together, that although I love Praetorius as Juliet quite a lot, I prefer Crandall's a bit more mature portrayal of her as a character. She still holds on to the character's sweetness and innocence, without making her overly naive, something I think adds a depth to her relation to Romeo which suits the characters well. Dean really came through as Romeo, too, and partnered Crandall well. He was playful and completely smitten with her Juliet, which put Crandall's a bit more thoughtful Juliet in greater contrast. It was a lovely performance. 


Theme and Variations ended off our evening and what a performance it was. The corps was sharp, precise and a treasure to look at. Both the soloist ladies and men did a fine job and Caroline Baldwin and Jonathan Chmelensky in the leads partnered each other beautifully where Baldwin came through with lots of presence and Chmelensky was a true powerhouse to witness in his solo segments. The final half of the performance was absolutely stunning and I never wanted it to end, because it was so beautiful to look at with the gorgeous costumes and the fluid, stark dancing. What a way to put a full stop to an already highlight-packed, glimmering evening.

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54 minutes ago, Drew said:

This program sounds as if it very much lived up to its name....


It very much did, Drew. At least if you ask me. It was a generally smooth, well-danced and entertaining program. Pleasing on the eye.

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