”Queen of Spades”
Royal 0anish Ballet
The Old Stage
April 15, 17 2017
Choreographer Liam Scarlett has raised from practically unknown to the favorite choreographer of the Royal Danish Ballet´s audience in less than a week. His “Queen of Spades” has impressed both the younger audience and more established subscribers. In many ways, he has turned the company and its traditional structure upside down.
He uses principal dancers as soloists and soloists as principal dancers. He goes even further by casting corps dancer Tobias Praetorius in two of the leading male roles, including the leading role as Hermann, the young officer turned gambler.
Tobias Praetorius is known for his versatility. He is a strong classical dancer, probably the best modern dancer in the company and an outstanding mime artist. He uses all these skills in “Queen of Spades” but even more impressive, he also shows outstanding leading man qualities. From the moment he enters the stage, he has the audience in his trail. He also showed great partnering skills, one do not necessarily expects from a young and relatively short dancer.
An outstanding performance from the dancer, turning 22 this week.
Seeing this performance, one becomes aware of the potential of the ballet and the role of Hermann. With “Queen of Spades”, Liam Scarlett has created a blockbuster part for the employ of the leading male. It cannot only catapult a dancer like Tobias Praetorius to the front of the company; it could be an international hit.
Turning the Hierarchy Around
As mentioned above, Liam Scarlett do not follow the company hierarchy when casting. As second cast we found Canadian Soloist, Alexander Bozinoff, who primarily has danced classical divertissements roles and a few classical leads like “Raymonda” and “The Nutcracker”. His Hermann started out rather timid, but his confidence grow during the night to end with a very fine and touching performance in the final asylum scene.
In this ballet, the female roles are comparatively smaller than the male roles. Principal Ida Praetorius, and soloists Alexandra Lo Sardo and Lena Maria Gruber, all three creating fine portraits, share the role of Liza, who finds out that she is more the foil than the beloved. Lena Maria Gruber´s Lisa is probably more downtrodden than the other two.
The title role as the countess known as Queen of Spades is considerable smaller than one would expect. First cast Kizzy Matiakis is more versatile and active, than the two others. J´aime Crandall in second cast is primarily a ghost, while Ji Min Hong in third cast is a power woman.
In third cast the supporting role as officers Tomskij and Narumov, is handed over from Jon Axel Fransson/Tobias Praetorius and Benjamin Buza to newcomers Vitor De Menezes and Meirambek Nazagozhayev. However, the two new RDB dancers, cannot reach to the level of the three strong RDB dramatic stars.
Principals Holly Jean Dorger, Caroline Baldwin and Jonathan Chmelensky are used as the leading dancers in the ballroom scene. While Dorger play the role as Pauline as a bitch, Caroline Baldwin is the kind lady, and third cast Heather Dunn placed her Pauline right in the middle of the two other interpretations. When not partnering, Jonathan Chmelensky runs the card table.
In all, this production is a win/win for the Royal Danish Ballet. Especially as Tobias Praetorius’ mature and outstanding performance confirms that there is a new leading man in town.
1. Tobias Praetorius
2. Alexander Bozinoff & J´aime Crandall in Raymonda by Henrik Stenberg
Copyright(c) Royal Danish Ballet