Saturday in Copenhagen and Sunday in Hamburg shows two Danish/International icons take on the Bournonville heritage. It is not a first for either Nikolaj Hübbe or Lloyd Riggins. They have both done Bournonville productions before. And they stood for several seasons as the two major male dancers in the Royal Danish Ballet. Today they are respectively heading a large international company (RDB) or the prince in waiting at another (Hamburg Ballett). The difference is that where Nikolaj Hübbe is expected to stage Bournonville, it is choice for Lloyd Riggins.
Royal Danish ballerina’s usually comes in sets of fours.
In the late 1970/early 80’ties Linda Hindberg, Mette-Ida Kirk, Lis Jeppesen & Heidi Ryom was the leading quartet, followed a decade later by Silja Schandorff, Rose Gad, Christina Olsson and Caroline Cavallo. After them came Gitte Lindstrøm, Gudrun Bojesen, Tina Højlund and Diana Cuni, who is now retired or on the brink of retirement.
That will leave the next group, Susanne Grinder, Amy Watson, J’aime Crandall and Alexandra Lo Sardo, all in their early 30ties with the responsibility of carrying the mantle. But there is no doubt that Susanne Grinder, the only Dane, will be the key player, not because of her nationality, but because she far more than the others, possesses the qualities and repertoire of a Danish ballerina. She is the only natural romantic ballerina of the group.
Sebastian Haynes had just changed out of his black tutu after dancing ”The Dying Swan” at the press meeting when someone congratulated him of being cast as the witch “Madge” in “La Sylphide”. That came as a total surprise for the first year dancer.
It must be added that the news was also a big surprise for the press. However the surprise was the fact that Nikolaj Hübbe changed the sex of the witch. Not that Sebastian Haynes got a major role.
The reason is that while still a first year dancer, Sebastian Haynes had already carved a strong position in the RDB ensemble as a versatile and outstanding dancer. And as a dancer who breaks the traditional mold of Danish male dancer. Normally when a young potential star emerges, it is clear what type of roles he might get later on. Sebastian Haynes is the exception to that rule. Madge is traditional a role given to very experienced character actors, not to first years dancers.
The Royal Danish Ballet is having an unusually busy November. Not only do they perform the “La Sylphide”/”Etudes” combo. “Twyla Tharp’s “Come Fly Away” and the Corpus “47 years in Tricot” from last season both got a second run. Then ad “The Hübbery”, a popup, a ballet book fair and the “Brunch & Ballet” Saturday class, a two day work shop with Israeli choreographer Idan Sharabi and the anniversary show of the children’s Kompanie B. And then there is the ongoing process of integrating 13 new dancers from at least 8 countries in the company.
The two alternate casts brought new interpretations, an outstanding new James, a starry couple and an strong performance delivered by a young upcoming star.
Revisiting Nikolaj Hübbe’s “La Sylphide” proved that although his rather controversial take on the classic still leaves the “La Sylphide” in non- perfect condition, it did not prevent rich and original interpretations.
Nikolaj Hübbe had made his second production of”La Sylphide” the antidote of his first traditional setting. Changing important details in the story comes over less intrusive than expected, while radical changes in the second act décor become the straw that broke the camel’s back.
The family market is a significant and lucrative part of Danish Art and Entertainment market. Royal Danish Ballet has for many years put on a children’s ballet in the midterm break as well as a family oriented Christmas program. But over the last few years’ competition from other vendors have bought more variety.
This year Danish Dance Theatre put on a new version of “The Red Balloon” originally made by choreographer /company director Tim Rushton for the RDB School. The new production is danced by pupils from the TIVOLI Ballet School, a fairly new initiative by TIVOLI Gardens, where former RDB stars Peter Bo Bendixen, Ballet Master in TIVOLI and Niels Balle, formerly leader of RDB Schools offers ballet training for children.
When Nikolaj Hübbe directed”La Sylphide” in 2003, it was a revelation and the primary example on how to present Bournonville in a clear and classical manner. Now eleven years later, Hübbe will present a new radical version that questions everything and changes the traditional look of Bournonville’s master piece.
21 year old Andreas Kaas of Royal Danish Ballet could be the luckiest boy in ballet. His resume includes several leading roles, a Straight Flush at the Erik Bruhn Awards and recently the male lead in John Neumeier’s “Lady of the Camellias”.