Presentation of Royal Danish Ballet’s season 2018/2019
May 1st, 2018
The Royal Theatre presented the repertoire for all three art forms at a joined press briefing.
Nikolaj Hübbe presented the ballets repertoire from the upcoming season. He is continuing his standard concept, so next season will include the usual suspects: “The Hübbery”,”Dance2go”, The Christmas family production, an annual children’s ballet plus a new concept, “Bobbles & Ballet”. Actually, “Bobbles & Ballet” will have its first outing this month where the audience can enjoy a glass of champagne, a pep talk and Akram Khan´s “Vertical Road”. It is not yet planned which ballet will do the honor next season.
Next Season’s “Dance2Go” includes a repeat of Jiri Kylian’s “Psalm Symphonie”, Harald Lander’s “”Dworak pas De Deux and a new ballet by Oliver Starpov, who’s “Beginnings & Endings” was a big success in last years D2G. This time he will present a new work “My Daddy loves Sugar”.
It should be considered if all of some standards formats should be kept alive and instead let Nikolaj Hübbe and the company more artistic freedom.
Principal Dancer, Ida Praetorius will dance the title role in no less than four ballets, “Giselle,” “Alice”, “Lady of the Camellias’” and “Cinderella”. However only “Cinderella” will be a new experience for her. Principal Dancer and choreograph Gregory Dean will choreograph his own version to the Prokofjev score. Gregory Dean created this season Children Ballet “The Missing Children “m which became a big hit.
Nikolaj Hübbe has his name on two returning productions: “Giselle”, on which he collaborated with Silja Schandorff and “Napoli” which was codirected by Sorella Englund.
Christopher Wheeldon’s “Alice” returns as the Christmas family ballet and another audience favorite John Neumeier’s “Lady of the Camellias” returns for its third season.
And now, something completely new.
The Spanish choreographer Marcos Morau creates his own version of Carmen for RDB. It will use the music by George Bizet, but it is expected to be more modern than classical.
Harald Lander’s classic “Etudes”, which also plays this season, will reappear next season paired with Wayne McGregor´s “Afterite.” This will be the third McGregor ballet in the RDB´s repertoire following, “Chroma and “Infra”.
Finally, RDB will show the Norwegian choreographer Jo Strømgren´s “The society of Lost Souls”, which was originally produced for the in-house company CORPUS. However, since then, CORPUS have become an independent company, with its own sets of dancers. Next season CORPUS will present creations by Sebastian Mattias, Masaru Iwai and Bobbi Jane.
Making the Most of it
Looking at the repertoire, it is easy to conclude, no Balanchine, no Petipa and very little Bournonville. The company are ruled by the demand to fill every seat and provide the provinces with a significant number of ballets. They cannot use the Royal Theatre orchestra as much as they would like and as the subscription programme demands that the subscribers do not get the same production twice in three years. It is difficult to change the repertoire once it is set.
The company have recently had a smash hit with Liam Scarlett´s creation for the company: “Queen of Spades”, but with the rigid system, they cannot bank on its popularity and include an extra run next season. Nor can they shorten the run of a non-hit.
It is not easy to run a company with so many demands.
The Line is Dwindling
At present two Danish male principal dancers, a soloist and a member of the corps, all educated from the RDB school, are dancing abroad. The principals Ulrik Birkkjær and Alban Lendorf are on leave, while the two younger dancers Sebastian Haynes and Magnus Christoffersen have decided to continue their career abroad.
The RDB has always been famous for their outstanding male dancers. However, from next year, there are no Danish educated male principal dancers, actually dancing with the company and only three male soloists and three male members of the corps the ballet who comes from the national ballet school. For three years there have been no boys joining the company from the Royal Ballet School, There may be one graduate next year, the line is thinning.
It is not the first time the company have been in this situation and luckily, as before, the company have been able to sign strong dancers from other companies, including strong dramatic dancers like the present three foreign principals Jonathan Chmelensky, Gregory Dean and Marcin Kupinski. There are now 17 foreign male members of the corps de ballet. I hope that some of them have the potential to go further.
At present the female line still produces. For next season, two girls from the schools will join the corps de ballet and two girls from the previous year, who was signed on short contracts, have been prolonged. Their brilliant class member, Emma Riis-Kofoed who was signed on the normal contract is taking on bigger roles and soloes with good results.
More Artistic Freedom, please
Nikolaj Hübbe has proved himself as a strong artistic director. Not every production have been a masterpiece and there are some relevant critique of his own Bournonville productions. However, in the almost ten years he has run the company, most of his decisions have been sound. He has brought in good choreographers; he is keen on developing the choreographic talent in the company.
However, he is still limited artistically by the demands to sell every seat. In the financial report, much is made by pointing out that a run of Dance2go had sold fewer tickets than expected. The culprit being named as an experimental ballet included in the program the previous year. What was not mentioned was the fact that a ballet by the company´s young in-house choreographer Oliver Starpov this year had received nine standing ovations out of ten possible.
Nikolaj Hübbe and his strong ensemble deserves more freedom and better possibilities to show what they do best and allow them to take the right artistic routes to develop the dancers, the art form and the public.
- Still Photo of Emerson Moose from "Carmen" by Claus Vedfeldt
- Ida Praetorius as Marguerite in "The Lady of the Camillias" Photo by Costin Radu
- Nikolaj Hübbe by Christian Als
Copyrights(c) Royal Danish Ballet