"The Neglected Spring"
Royal Danish Ballet
October 26 2011
The present aspirant class of RDB is probably the biggest class for several generations. Many of the students, most notably Ida Prætorius have already had featured roles or done significant corps assignments. For the previous two seasons an annual production based on aspirants and first years dancers have performed on the smaller Drama House stage and done some touring to schools. There is a double agenda for these projects, to build a younger audience and to kick start the young dancers stage experience.
This year's project also managed to present probably the greatest choreographer talent from the company ranks.
Professor Blomme is the epitome of a bad teacher, mean but with a crush on pretty, quiet school boy Edward until the point where puberty kicks in and put pimples on the boy. He then turns his bullying on Edward,who finally put poison in the professor's bon bon's which kills him and set the class free.
It would be so easy to make this subject into a second helping of Flemming Flindt's "The Lesson", also par of the season, based on Ionesco's play about a sadistic German teacher. Flindt coup was to turn the German lesson into a dance class, but here choreographer Esther Lee Wilkinson managed to get the plot across and keep the latin in. It is amazing how well she can get this not uncomplicated and in it essence very verbal plot moving forward and achieve a perfect balance.
The front of the stage is used as the pupils individual spaces where they rest wake up go to school and grow up. In the schoolroom the meet an assortment of teachers, including a superb performance by Lis Jeppesen as the worlds most downtrodden science teacher, who is mobbed by the students. As Professor Blomme veteran mime Poul-Erik Hesselkilde has one of his best roles ever. Evil, mobbing and yet so in love with his favorite pupil, danced by Magnus Christoffersen. Latin phrases are spoken and sung by the students and Lee Wilkinson cleverly shows how the abusive teacher methods inspires the pupils to be abusive on one the girls.
In the beginning there is very little dancing, but that changes with the cleverly constructed gym class, where the girls are using vhimples and the boys jumps the horse. The gym class moves in to a touching pas de deux for Edward and Ingrid, danced by Stephanie Møller. In the second half the students has a street dance section before exam and the demise of Professor Blomme, who in his dying moment finally drops the leach of his little dog who runs out into freedom. A poignant metaphor for the students, finally released.
Esther Lee Wilkinson had only done the choreography but has also done costumes which was a finely balanced between then and now. In all the ballet enjoys great production values such as a great decor and a live band. The production should help the young cast, where special mention should go to Astrid Elbo's moving Rosa, the girl everybody picks on, to develop their dramatics skills even further.
The RDB has ac hived a good ballet not only for the youth group but also had the much greater pleasure at seeing a talented choreographer emerge. May she get more opportunities to develop her unique talent for dramatic work, a skill the company and the ballet world is in short supply of.
1.Poul-Erik Hesselkilde as Proffesor Blomme
2. Magnus Christoffersen as Edvard
3. Ida Prætorius as Dagmar and Lis Jeppesen as the science teacher
4. The Gym Class
5. Astrid Elbo as Rosa