At 36 one would expect a ballet dancer would be on the brink on wrapping up his career, focus on fewer and more mature roles and start considering whether to become a teacher, a character dancer or an instructor.
Well not if the dancer in question is Thomas Lund. Not only has he been a teacher, character dancer and instructor since his juvenile years. He had also with great success entered into the field of choreography with his smash hit family ballet: ”Teddy goes Ballet”. And now he is preparing to have his debut as Siegfried in “Swan Lake” and Desireé in “The Sleeping Beauty”.
“It is unusual to get these parts as a mature dancer. I do not know why I was chosen, but Nikolaj Hübbe and Christopher Wheeldon must have recognized something in me they want to bring to the performance. What I am doing now is using most of my energy and experience to prepare for these parts. I have therefore ceased teaching for the present to focus on being the best prince I can. Hopefully my experience and skills will help me in the process. I am not un-experienced in the Russian classics, as I have danced the leads in “The Nutcracker” and “Don Quixote”, but this has given me an unexpected opportunity to really test the dancer Thomas Lund, and I must say I look forward to the experience,” says Thomas Lund.
The directors cut
Not only is Thomas Lund cast as the prince in “Swan Lake” he is also on the directors team for the ballet, although he is certainly not directing himself in this production. Thomas Lund entered the ballet school in 1986 following years of ballroom dancing. Very early on he got on stage and got many leading roles for children and also starred in a series of ballets created especially for the ballet school. As a young child he was interested in everything theatrical and spent a lot of his spare time producing dolls theatre show with a friend from ballet school and his older brother. The first, Johan Holten is now Director of an art museum in Heidelberg . The later grow up to be internationally reclaimed Opera director and leader of the Royal Danish Opera Kasper Holten.
The interest in being more than just a dancer has always been a part of Thomas Lund’s career. He took up teaching and directing at an early stage and it now considered one of the leading experts on Bournonville style. Lund’s deep knowledge and love for Bournonville found and outlet in “Bournonville Variations” a piece based on the Bournonville Schools, he co-directed with Nikolaj Hübbe last season and which will be part of the US tour.
Lund chose the variations from the old Bournonville School which up the 1930 was the syllabus the Royal Danish Ballet and together with Hübbe arranged the material for a group of 12 male dancers, split into three groups, The Scots, the Spaniards and the French depending on the material. The result was an outstanding piece, where they really succeeded in not only showing the brilliance of the Bournonville material, and the predominantly young cast but also managed to bring a strong theatrical and contemporary feel to the piece.
Fresh eyes on Etudes
For this season Lund and Hübbe will be co-producing a new version of Harald Lander’s “Etudes”.
“My aim is to bring out the poetry of this ballet, which for a long period has been drawn towards looking like a dance competition. We will also return to the original casting principle of one ballerina, two male soloists and one prince. In recent performance history there has been a tendency to bring in too many male soloists thereby undermining the structure. It is all about balance. The two soloists should rival and complement each other. We have gone back to the source material and through Lise Lander, the widow of Harald Lander, we have gained access to Harald Lander's own notes”, explains Thomas Lund.
To an international audience Thomas Lund is best known for his Bournonville roles and he was the leading star of the 2005 Bournonville festival. As the upcoming tour will carry a strong Bournonville bias, the American audience will expect to see Lund in his signature roles as James in “La Sylphide” and Gennaro in “Napoli”. That may not happen. Lund has not danced the roles in the recent productions.
“I was told at the festival that it would be highlight of my career, and it certainly was a high point. So in a way I feel I have already had my starring moment. Should the artistic management decide to add a more mature cast I will answer that call, but I do understand the need to develop the younger talents” says Thomas Lund.
Thomas Lund hopes that he will be cast as the ballet teacher in Flemming Flindt’s: “The Lesson”, a role where he demonstrates his abilities to be evil and a role which had proven how deep his talent is for building characters. In this ballet and in “Caroline Mathilde” Lund has shown a cunning ability to make the quasi modern angular style of Flemming Flindt flowing and elegant.
“I think I may have a tendency to soften the corners on the more angular and awkward steps ,” he smiles, but soft and elegant is not the right words to describe the mature Thomas Lund’s stage antics. In Nikolaj Hübbe radical re-staging of “Napoli” he is doing the Street Singer in drag and as a tragic figure from the low end of the poor city of Napoli. Lund will also dance a leading part in “Earth”, a rustic primal work on an all male ensemble, a work that has became an audience favorite in Copenhagen. And in “A Folk’s Tale” he will be the nice troll Viderik.
So Lund will play many parts on the tour, as director/choreographer, teacher, dancer and mime artist. He is pleased that his career includes many outlets and he hopes to continue his relationship with The Royal Danish Ballet for many years to come.
When given the opportunity the American audience and fans of Thomas Lund should definitely go and see “Bournonville Variations” and discover that seeing a ballet by Thomas Lund can be as rewarding as seeing a ballet with Thomas Lund, especially as it shows his kind of magic on a new generation.
Thomas Lund in "Don Quixote"
Alexander Stæger and Alban Lendorf in "Bournonville Variations"
Thomas Lund in "Napoli III act"
Thomas Lund and Gudrun Bojesen in "The Lesson"
Thomas Lund as the streetsinger in "Napoli"