Flemming Flindt: "The Lesson"
August Bournonville: "La Sylphide"
Royal Danish Ballet
September 29 2012
Danish star Thomas Lund ended his active career with a stellar performance as the teacher in "The Lesson" and as James in "La Sylphide". His fellow dancers not only gave him a tearful send off but made the best "La Sylphide" seen for a long time.
Lund is not leaving the building, but has taken on the important role a head of the Royal Ballet School. As indicated by an emotional Nikolaj Húbbe, Lund may also continue making his mark as a director and choreographer.
By ending his career now, Thomas Lund bows out while he is on top of his game, and his technique, musicality and style are as good as ever.
Thomas Lund started his career as a child star. When he entered ballet school as a tvelwe year old the repertoire wall full of good roles for children, which all went to Lund. Whether it was children's ballets based on Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales, the leading boy in "Romeo & Juliet" or the part as Nikolaj Hübbe`s inner child in a very bad ballet based on "Das Lied von der Erde", Lund was the chosen one. He effortless transcended into the grown up repertoire, carving a niche as a Bournonville dancer with his light jumps and flair for the style. A few years younger than Johan Kobborg, the two talented dancers shared many roles and the constantly changing line of ballet masters brought in works that would favour the duo. But when Kobborg left, the roles dried out and Lund found himself in periods as more a speciality dancer than as a leading man.
In and Out
But Lund, never the conventional type, found niches where he would shine, and then there was always Bournonville, where Lund could do double duty as the ingenue dancer and the character actor. For instance in "The Kermesse at Brüges" had danced Carelis as well and his foolish brother Geet in the same's production. He also made a very strong impression as the mad king in Flemming Flindt's "Caroline Mathilde". At the same time he took on a string of divertissement roles like Bluebird, often in partnership here and in Bournonville with Gudrun Bojesen, who matches his musicality and high stylistic qualities as well as the special Danishness in the dancing. Seeing Bojesen, Lund and fellow principal Mads Blangstrup was like seeing the qualities of the geat Danish dancers of the 1950ties. The three dancer embodied the continuing line of the RDB probably more than any other dancers in the company and it counted for much during troubled times.
But in the international repertoire, Thomas Lund did not always get the roles he obviously deserved and some seasons vere meagre. And when he finally started getting the leads in the international classic it was often in substandard production of "The Nutcracker" and "Don Quixote".
When Frank Andersen reentered RDB, he put the focus back on Bournonville, and Thomas Lund became the key dancer for the 2005 festival, with a handful of leads including James and Gennaro as well as several other roles. Lund had, several seasons earlier, started teaching and directing Bournonville productions as well and the festival really put him on the international map.
A new Employ
When Nikolaj Hübbe took over the company, he presented Thomas Lund with a new and broader repertoire. Thomas Lund shone in several Balanchine and Robbins roles, especialy "Symphony in Three Movements", "The Concert" and "Dancing at a Gathering" and most surprisingly, he, together with Alexandra Lo Sardo ,proved the team to really nail "Other Dances", by getting an inner live and romantic feeling to the work. Hübbe also used Lund as all the major Russian princes: Nutcracker cavalier, Florimund and most impressively as Siegfried in a magic rematching with his partner from the juvenile years, Gudrun Bojesen.
Gudrun Bojesen also graced his final performance with a truly outstanding Sylph as well as having costarred with him in Ratmansky's "Coq d´ore, the final creation made on Thomas Lund this September.
Hübbe's fine production of "La Sylphide" has been little seen at home these last seasons and has, when shown, appeared in dwindling form as try outs for younger stars, not quite there yet. Last night's performance showed not only Lund and Bojesen, but also a whole cast bringing it back in all its glory.
Lis Jeppesen finally stepped out of the shadow of Sorella Englund's Madge with a deeply original interpretation. She has toyed with several approaches over the years and now her maybe-once-a-sylph who is passionately in love with James seems to have come full circle. Alexander Stæger has developed his likeable Gurn even further and Diana Cuni is back as a strong Effy who very reluctantly accepts Gurn. Hilary Guswiler shines as an elegant first sylph who really covers the territory with fast and light movements. The corps were likewise in fine form. The wedding was well attended and in the gathering crowd a band of brothers appeared in the form of Lund's fellow principal men: Mads Blangstrup, Ulrik Birkkjær, Marcin Kupinski and Alban Lendorf, who had donned their kilts and took the walk on parts to celebrate the nestor.
Lund poured out his emotions and his technique to the max. A series of tour en airs in both directions and as fine pirouettes that you could wish for made it abundantly clear what we will miss. Gudrun Bojesen brought the finest Sylph I have ever seen her do to the celebration. It was a joy to see her and the company performing on the highest level. I have only two messages to Nikolaj Hübbe: Get it on stage and get it on film.
The evening started with another Lund highlight as the teacher in "The Lesson", another study in madness. Hopefully the treatment he gives the supertalented Ida Prætorius is not a sample of what awaits the the RDB students.
All Hands on Deck
The celebration on stage after the performance included more dancers, more applause and more tears than any other farewell performance in many years. Included in the celebrations was also the characters from Lund's children's ballet: "Teddy goes Ballet", which will return to repertoire in two weeks.
Lund has given his all to the RDB and the response for him and the company from the auditorium must give Lund, Hübbe and the company a much deserved appreciation of how much the audience loves the company and its stars.
It now falls to Lund to keep the line going, and I could not feel more safe on the continuation of the Danish talent factory now that it is in his hands.