March 8, 2013
In the final run of "La Bayadére" Hübbe presents a new cast in the three major roles. In contrast to the other three casts the team is well matches and especially the two newcomers Jonathan Chmelensky and Holly Jean Dorger delivers very fine performances.
In the greater perspective Hübbe's gamble with "La Bayadére" has been a success. It has been an audience draw. It has provided the company with a myriad of meaty roles, solos and ensembles and the corps have managed to maintain a high constant quality in the shade act. Yes, it could have gone a bit deeper in the material and the characters, but is as good a spectacle and show case for the company as Hübbe has ever presented. There have been some course for alarm, especially as the three first casts in general seemed mismatched. And although it provides the big meaty role for Alban Lendorf, his fellow "Sirs" have struggled technically and dramatically with the role.
When recently appointed soloist Jonathan Chmelensky first did the third act as part of the recent Dance2Go programme one was impressed by his light jumps and sure pirouettes, but frankly by little less. His posture and his line needed at lot of work. He did not project so one was a bit worried how he would handle the full role and the dramatic content. Well, I have never seen two weeks spent so well. Yesterday there was a formulated character, there were lines and posture, there was stage appeal. In contrast to the two more senior "Sirs", Chmelensky had the stamia to go the whole way. He managed the pyrotechnics and for the first time in his career he looked like a potential leading man and not just a divertissement dancer.
In the Shadows
His partner was Principal Susanne Grinder, who is one of the busiest dancers in the company and has a full set of leading roles under her belt. But Grinder still struggles to develop from a good dancer to a great one. If Chmelensky is the good version of the runner up, a dancer coming closer to first position, Grinder is the runner up in the more difficult version: The eternal number two. Grinder often shares roles with our leading ballerina Gudrun Bojesen, and while Bojesen keeps developing into new directions and find deeper layers in her roles, Grinder is at best developing in a slower tempo. Seing the two ballerina's take on Nikiya shows the same pattern as last years "Lady of the Camillia". Grinder simply plays on a smaller field than Bojesen. Her characters travels a shorter route and when Bojesen in the Act 2 solo in "La Bayadére" dances up a storm af grief, despair and anger, Grinder misses the frenzy and the self esteem that is an integrated part of the Nikiya character. She dances well, but does not have the ability to get the emotions into the steps.
The Lady with the Dog
Holly Jean Dorger is without doubt the strongest technical Emma (Gamzetti) this production have seen.
Every pirouette, every jump, every fouettee was done to the mac, and proved that Dorger this season has been on a roll. Dramatically there is still room for improvements, but the directors could help her a lot by dropping the dead and wet dog that is plastered on the head of all the Emma's and frankly is unbecoming on all of them. One can be English without being blond.
In addition to Chmelensky and Dorger, young Stephanie Chen Gundorph took on her second solo role is as many weeks as one of the soloists in the Pas de Action with aplomb and style. Adding Hilary Guswiler' s Nikitya ind the shade act and Sebastian Haynes also in theDance2Go program proves that there is spades of young talents in the company. The big challenge is to create enough opportunities to shine.
Photo by Costin Radu:
Susanne Grinder as Pas de Action solist from a previous performance
Copyright (c): The Royal Theatre