The Peter Martins production has been a part of the standard repertoire of the Royal Danish Ballet for most of Thomas Lund's career. Yet up till now he has only done the fool and some of the divertissements. But this year he finds himself cast as Siegfried and for some reson his performances with guest star Jurgita Dronina is placed at the end of the run. This has obviously given Lund the opportunity to prepare well for this opportunity and his dancing also demonstrated how much thought and care had been invested in each steps and phrases. It also raises the question, Can a dancer be over prepared?
Allthough I do not know who has done the casting for this revival I suspect that Nikolaj Hübbe has been involved as by casting not only Thomas Lund but also Alban Lendorf as Siegfried, it shows a radical change from the century old company casting principle. That Hübbe has no problem with casting outside the employ principle is evident in his "Napoli" where Gennaro is cast young and soft. By leaving the employ casting Hübbe gains a larger field to cast in, can make more dancers happy and may bring out new audiences experiences of the well known company classics. But "Swan Lake" is probably the one classic that favours one specific type of dancer, the tall and lean ballerina with the long neck and the small head. The choreography gains an extra daring and quality when applied to a ballerina who is truly a swan. Ballerinas not blessed by this specific body image needs to bring something else to the equation, like a strong interpretation. Jurgita Dronina is a small allegro dancer with a strong technique and it high-lighted certain segments, but she did not bring much of an interpretation, which is something we are spoiled with in Denmark.
A mature prince
Thomas Lund was likewise impressive in his dancing. A seasoned pro he highlights his strengths the light jumps and the intricate steps sequences and managing his weaker pirouettes. He even managed to bring a certain Bournonville feel to the solos. His biggest challenges proved to be in the acting, usually his strongest point. Lund can be a prince, but he can no longer be a young and impressionable prince. Instead he presents a surprisingly dated feel to his role, a bit like Prince Charles meets Robert Helpmann meets Alec Guinness in "The Swan". It made me realise than all though Thomas Lund can play 1000 different characters he cannot be the norm.
He receives very little help from the Martins production. When seeing five different casts and revisiting a few of them, the numbness of the production becomes annoying and it is very clear that dancers who cannot bring something of their own get a poor deal and so does the audience. Next week Thomas Lund will dance the final performance of the run with Gudrun Bojesen, his frequent partner. Matched with Bojesen's breathtaking Odette/Odile he might find the magic missing yesterday either in supporting Bojesen or even by finding the method and the conviction to be a more human and more contemporary prince.