September 21, 2010
When it was announced last season that Nehemiah Kish would leave the RDB for Royal Ballet my immediate reaction was that he would be hard to replace. And with the female solo dancers hit by injuries and other absences it looked like the company would face a difficult season. But after four performances this season I am more optimistic regarding the company than I have been for years. The primary reason is the quality lift provided by the youngest generation led by Alban Lendorf, Hilary Guswiler and Jon Axel Fransson.
The resent history of the Royal Danish Ballet shows that the company can overcome severe challenges such as leading dancers retiring simultaneously, multiple injuries and lack of good new choreography if the key ingredients are in place: a deep talent pool and strong talent management.
In his first two years of Nikolaj Hübbe's leadership he has shown his skills as a talent manager. He has managed to develop the middle and younger group of dancers to take leading roles, but the real difference comes with the group of dancers joining the company from the ballet school in the last two years.
Alban Lendorf has already established himself as the leading dancer of the company and this week Hilary Guswiler and Jon Axel Fransson, the latter in his first month as a full member of the corps , both show that they also have the capabilities to go all the way.
A Swan is born
It is unusual that a dancer gets the part of Odette/Odile without a previous track record of a certain length, yet 20 year old Hilary Guswiler donned the feathers with a very short resume. Nevertheless Guswiler presents a fully developed and deeply touching Odette and a more sketchy but considered and determined Odile. The performance is on such a high level and her grip on technique and style make one certain that only great misfortunes such a severe injury will keep her from becoming a leading star within the foreseeable future. Blessed with long limbs and a beautiful soft and expressive face she can command a large repertoire and her dramatic skills seems in place. It will be great. It is already great.
She was partnered very well by Gregory Dean, who also presented a secure and likeable Prince Siegfried and who lokes like he could be a real asset for the company.
Meet mister Fransson
Hilary Guswiler may be the great sensation but Jon Axel Fransson's jester may be the strongest performance ever presented by a dancer in his first month as a member of the company. Fransson jumped, spun and charmed his way though the peformance with an incredible gusto and professionalism that make promises of an interesting career.
Around these performances Mads Blangstrup's Rothbart, Sebastian Kloborg's energetic and sleek Russian ruffian and Marcin Kupinsky's light jumps in the Pas de Quatre also demonstated a high quality lewel in a production where the peformance lewel clearly outshines the rather tepid choeography.