Silja Schandorff & Nikolaj Hübbe:
June 3, 2018
Royal Danish Ballet
The Opera Stage
As I have reviewed all casts of Silja Schandorff and Nikolaj Hübbe’s “Swan Lake” this is probably the 10th time I will be discussing this production. Luckily, it is worth it. So reader, do stay with me one more time.
Now in its third year and its eight Odette/Odile and seventh Siegfried it remains in very good shape. However, one thing is still slightly bothering about the castings. We have good pairings but not outstanding pairings. This have been the production, who seems to avoid the established and successful choices.
I believe it has a lot to do with the original decision to go out with six casts in the premiere season. Some of the dancers were still very young, so it did make a lot of sense then of pairing experience with upcoming talent. Still, it looks like the pattern is still followed.
The only performance in the festival is given to J’aime Crandall, who danced the premiere with Alban Lendorf, and newly minted principal Andreas Kaas.
Make a Great Man of Him
Andreas Kaas is the half of the celebrated partnership with Ida Praetorius. A partnership of two dancers, physically and stylistically suited. They actually joined the RDB School on the same day. I am not arguing that they should dance every ballet together; however, I do see the advantage of letting an established partnership – especially from the same generation - bring their harmony and skills to the most celebrated ballet.
Since Andreas Kaas finally was promoted to Principal, last month he has gone from strength to strength, technically and dramatically. He has probably opted his Siegfried 100%. His acting is outstanding, he controls the stage. He is more daring than ever. It is difficult to take your eyes of him. He dominates the production, however, in the nicest way possible. This season have made him our leading male dancer and he is still developing.
His partner, J´aime Crandall is also a great success story. She joined RDB in her mid-twenties as a member of the corps after dancing in Korea and The Netherlands. Luckily, Nikolaj Hübbe and his team discovered her skills and talents and gave here the chances to develop further. Of small stature, she proved to be the obvious partner for young company star Alban Lendorf. That propelled her to the front of the company.
However, Alban Lendorf left for an international career. Principal Gregory Dean and Soloist Jon Axel Fransson, who both are strong partners, and both able to present her on stage, have since partnered her on a high level.
Somewhere along the run of “Swan Lake”, Silja Schandorff and Nikolaj Hübbe has forgotten to cast Jon Axel Fransson as Siegfried. He is the original outstanding Von Rothbart in the production. He is also a very good Benno. However, he has not been granted a shot of the leading role. Sadly for him and sadly for J´aime Crandall, who hereby loses her best partner opportunity.
Since the first performance, “Swan Lake” has been a joyous production on a very high production value.
The quality of the designs and stagecraft, the female corps and not forgetting the additional choreography by Oliver Starpov and Gregory Dean, all helped to make this a wonderful experience. It is such a relief after revisiting “Napoli” and concluding that the time travelling and other poor choices in that production is more or less killing the Bournonville masterpiece.
There is also a significant amount of worry regarding the status of “La Sylphide”. Having not presented the full ballet as part of the festival makes one wonder. I, myself can do very well without this production. However, will there be funds for a new production or has Nikolaj Hübbe really given up on Bournonville? That is to inconceivable to even speculate. Or is it?
Photos by Costin Radu (Copyright(c) Royal Danish Ballet)
- J´aime Crandall in "Swan Lake"
- Andreas Kaas & Ida Praetorius in "Liasons Dángereux"
- J´aime Crandall & Jon Axel Fransson in "Rubies".