The Royal Danish Ballet
2nd and 3rd casts
La Bayadére" starts out with three casts, which has become almost a standard practice over the last years. Understandable as the number of programs has been cut for financial reasons. To give each dancer their due, sharing more roles gives each dancer a reasonably number of leading roles. However the principle does diminish the director’s possibility to make super teams and super ballets. In the case of "La Bayadère", each cast has a stellar performer in the lead couple, but unfortunately misses the ultimate goal of having equal meet equal.
A friend of mine had some work-related issues, she found difficult to cope with and then discussed them with a friend who was a former RDB dancer. She got the following input: "Why do you not pretend to be someone else?" It the case it turned out to be a very god advise, simply to create another persona and let that persona handle the issues. The advice also showed us the DNA of the RDB dancers and the company’s special gift: to create believable characters. It is a gift that is infused and nurtured from childhood and has proven difficult to emulate for the imported dancers. Only a few, like Lloyd Riggins, now a star in Hamburg has managed to break the code.
In the present generation, Gudrun Bojesen is the master of this skill, and her work over the last seasons has created dance characters with emotional depts. and a different movement pattern for each role. One cannot talk about the "Bojesen" arabesque, for each interpretation also comes with its own version of the classical vocabulary. It has made her performances a must see and it has
raised the bar for what is possible to achieve by dancing.
As Nikiya she enfolds every aspect of the role and makes a deeply moving, nuanced character and creates the perfect balance between the classical style and the Indian inspiration. Her renowned musicality makes everything come together. It is the performance that justifies the production. She is simultaneously our prima ballerina and the servant of the art form. A duality that creates the natural Nikiya.
There is only one thing as good as a miracle and that is two miracles and it was with equal joy to see
Gitte Lindstrøm return to leading ballerina repertoire as the Nikiya in the third cast. Lindstrøm has been missing in action for a longer period due to injuries and maternity leave. Her career has mainly been in a different employ than Bojesen, in technical high demand roles like Kitri and Myrtha, but has also proven a strong dramatic lead in roles like Tatiana in "Onegin" and the title role in "Anna Karenina." Lindstrøm's Nikiya is not based only on here pyrotechnical feats, which was definitely on top.Her interpretation of the role, showing the commitment to Solar, the hurt but also a sense of character, slightly akin to her Tatiana, who managed to express self esteem even when dumped by Onegin. Her Nikiya is as touching as Bojesen but from a different interpretation.
Ballerinas need partners, preferable on their own level, but unfortunately neither Marcin Kupinski, who partnered Bojesen nor Ulrik Birkkjær who was Sir William (Solor) to Lindstrøm were able to match their ballerina.
Kupinski and Birkkjær struggles - not only here but in most of the repertoire - with being the dancers standing next to Alban Lendorf. Both are very strong technical dancers, but neither have many successes as character builders. Kupinski is light as air and has beautiful lines, but struggles to create an impression. Birkkjær you do notice but save Armand in "The Lady of the Camilles," he has not been able to make a coherent dramatic role. The role of Sir William (Solor) is demanding technically. By his second performance, Kupinski has managed to save enough strength to last the whole ballet, although he still has a few discomforting moments partnering his Gamzatti, Camilla Ruelykke Holst. Birkkjær’s
first night was more successfully in managing the steps and lifts, but as the evening got on; he loses both posture and the ability to act a man in love and in trouble and leaves it to Lindstrøm to provide the emotional content. He and Lindstrøm did manage as the only couple to show that the affairs had started before the curtain went up.
Both men could learn a lot from Mads Blangstrup, the first casts (!) High Brahmin in how to build a character and how to focus on your partner. Without reaching Blanstrup's level of performance, Fernando Moro, never the less managed to create a strong and beliable alternate High Brahmin.
Another highlight on third cast was Morten Eggert as first fakir, taking the opposite choice than
the other casts and creates his role on his bare face and strong dramatic acting.
As Gamzatti Camilla Ruelykke Holst acted well, but seemed inexperienced in the partnering aspects of her pas de deux. Her alternate Amy Watson also made a good bitch as Gamzetti. Watson has no less than three roles in the ballet. Beyond Gamzatti she is a Shadow soloist and dances one of the divertissement in act 3 as well.
A lot of dancers do double duty in the ballet. All Nikiya's are also dancing the shadow soloists. A group of the best younger dancers has also been casts for the Shadow soloists, but so far only Hilary Gusswiler has actually got to dance hers, and that was also postponed. Gusswiler did great and confirmed once again her great potential, which should be tested in even bigger roles. The reason for this delay and why Holly Jean Docker and Caroline Baldwin, who both danced fine solos in the divertissements are still waiting in the shadows, isprobably based on the challenges in filling the line up.
To do a full act three the company needs almost all hands on deck. Following the layoffs the corps is down to 27 girls and two female aspirants. Even supplementing the corps with five soloists the margin is thin, so for some performances it has been necessary to use principals only for the soloists role and put the Gamzatti and the planned soloists into the corps. The good news than even when challenged to make the numbers the quality of the shadows has been no less than impressive, precise and absolutely breathtaking and I for one has been addicted to the act.
Box office has been good and the audience impressed and moved, which confirms that the ballet
could and should be a permanent addition to the repertoire.
1. Gudrun Bojesen and Marcin Kupinski
2. Gudrun Bojesen
3. Gitte Lindstrøm
4. The Shadows
Costin Radu, Royal Danish Ballet Copyright(c)