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Emily Hite
Performance Reviews
Ballet
Det Kongelige Teater - Old Stage
Denmark
Copenhagen, OT (Denmark)
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The Royal Danish Ballet at Det Kongelige Teater

by Emily Hite
November 24, 2006
Det Kongelige Teater - Old Stage
Kongens Nytorv
Copenhagen, OT (Denmark) 1017
+45 33 69 69 69
"Schumanns 2. Symfoni"
Ch. Ewe Scholz

"Etudes"
Ch. Harald Lander

Graham Bond conducted The Copenhagen Philharmonic.
It felt like an authentic ballet-going evening on closing night of the Royal Danish Ballet's "Schumanns 2. symfoni og Etudes" in Copenhagen's Old Stage: Queen Margrethe II was in attendance. Seconds before the curtain went up, Her Majesty entered the royal box; the audience rose to its feet in a respectful and excited hush. The practice was repeated before the start of the program's second half.

Sitting on ruby-colored plush seats below a golden chandelier and facing the Queen of Denmark provided appropriate context for both the evening's ballet-loving ballets. The program affirmed the dance form's ability to uplift and inspire; the neoclassical choreographic design of the pieces and the dancers' lovely and sincere interpretive approach met a grateful audience.

"Schumanns 2. symfoni," Ewe Scholz's work from 1990, began with two women center stage in a circular spotlight. Dressed in pink tights and pointe shoes, navy leotards with mesh long sleeves, and turtlenecks, the women exhibited what would be the functional and flattering uniform for the piece (the men wore navy unitards).

The first duet looked like an interaction between close friends. The women stood close together and danced with neoclassical character — executing bourres with parallel feet followed by a curving forward of the back, for example. In a memorable instant, the upstage dancer wrapped an arm around her partner's middle, and the latter reacted by pulling up through her entire body, an energy that continued through one hand reaching upward and forward.

More dancers entered and left the stage from various wings. Together the groups mirrored the many layers in Schumann's music. A trio of women showed the musical complexity perhaps too literally, seeming almost 1:1 in step-to-musical-note ratio. In those cases the stops and pounds overtook the fluid potential of the music and dance.

A remarkable take on classical partnering was a pair of pairs mirroring one another in the fish dive position. Instead of being held in a head-near-the-floor position, the women were rotated by the men so that their slightly parted legs floated by the other's and indicated a connection without actually touching. It was reminiscent of two hands with fingers spread apart in the moment before forming a clasp.

Quieter duet moments were juxtaposed with vibrant group movement, the dancers several times running forward and splitting, curving in either direction. While this pattern and other symmetrical and predictable uses of space seemed lacking in freshness, the quality of dancing was spirited enough to make up for it. The piece finished as it began, with two women center stage, at the end of four movements of varied tones and energies.

Harald Lander's "Etudes" is as ballet-focused as a piece can get, since it is built with dancers' daily exercises. It begins with barre work and moves through center exercises, with excerpts nodding to Romantic ballet tradition. There is nothing easy about its simplicity of steps; the 1948 work is filled with technical feats from start to finish, whether the audience knows it or not. That is to say, some steps such as multiple fouette turns performed by a group of seven in perfect unison are as impressive as they are difficult. Other steps, such as the opening grand plie in fifth position performed by a single dancer who enters from a parted curtain, are less show stopping. Rather, they are known to dancers as simple but grueling exercises that are difficult to master and have a high potential for disaster.

The Royal Danish Ballet was undoubtedly up to the challenge this evening. From the aforementioned fouettes to ballerina Gudrun Bojesen's secure and sustained hops on pointe, the company embraced the aptitude test and managed to perform the ballet with neither ostentation nor robotic technicality. Accompanied by a large orchestra triumphantly playing Riisager's alternately bombastic and delicate score, it would have been possible to show as much as do. But the dancers, at home in the movement, had no need to. The wildly exciting finish with full company and orchestra in highest gear was met with thunderous applause and stomping in the house. Gestures the dancers made in offering to the queen on the first balcony were reminders that we were watching the famous 20th Century Danish ballet alongside royalty.

The evening's works thrived on fulfilled expectation as well as occasional displays of technique for technique's sake. But you got what you came to see, and you likely came to see it because you are moved by it.
Royal Danish Ballet - Etudes 2006/2007

Royal Danish Ballet - Etudes 2006/2007

Photo © & courtesy of Martin Mydtskov Rønne


Royal Danish Ballet - Etudes 2006/2007

Royal Danish Ballet - Etudes 2006/2007

Photo © & courtesy of David Amzallag


Royal Danish Ballet - Etudes 2006/2007

Royal Danish Ballet - Etudes 2006/2007

Photo © & courtesy of David Amzallag


Royal Danish Ballet - Etudes 2006/2007

Royal Danish Ballet - Etudes 2006/2007

Photo © & courtesy of David Amzallag


Royal Danish Ballet - Etudes 2006/2007

Royal Danish Ballet - Etudes 2006/2007

Photo © & courtesy of David Amzallag


Royal Danish Ballet - Etudes 2006/2007

Royal Danish Ballet - Etudes 2006/2007

Photo © & courtesy of David Amzallag


Royal Danish Ballet - Etudes 2006/2007

Royal Danish Ballet - Etudes 2006/2007

Photo © & courtesy of David Amzallag


Royal Danish Ballet - Etudes 2006/2007

Royal Danish Ballet - Etudes 2006/2007

Photo © & courtesy of David Amzallag


Royal Danish Ballet - Etudes 2006/2007

Royal Danish Ballet - Etudes 2006/2007

Photo © & courtesy of David Amzallag


Royal Danish Ballet - Etudes 2006/2007

Royal Danish Ballet - Etudes 2006/2007

Photo © & courtesy of David Amzallag


Royal Danish Ballet - Etudes 2006/2007

Royal Danish Ballet - Etudes 2006/2007

Photo © & courtesy of David Amzallag


Royal Danish Ballet - Etudes 2006/2007

Royal Danish Ballet - Etudes 2006/2007

Photo © & courtesy of David Amzallag


Royal Danish Ballet - Etudes 2006/2007

Royal Danish Ballet - Etudes 2006/2007

Photo © & courtesy of David Amzallag


Royal Danish Ballet - Etudes 2006/2007

Royal Danish Ballet - Etudes 2006/2007

Photo © & courtesy of David Amzallag


Royal Danish Ballet - Schumanns 2. Symfoni 2006/2007

Royal Danish Ballet - Schumanns 2. Symfoni 2006/2007

Photo © & courtesy of Henrik Stenberg


Schumanns 2. Symfoni 2006/2007

Schumanns 2. Symfoni 2006/2007

Photo © & courtesy of Henrik Stenberg


Royal Danish Ballet - Schumanns 2. Symfoni 2006/2007

Royal Danish Ballet - Schumanns 2. Symfoni 2006/2007

Photo © & courtesy of Henrik Stenberg


Royal Danish Ballet - Schumanns 2. Symfoni 2006/2007

Royal Danish Ballet - Schumanns 2. Symfoni 2006/2007

Photo © & courtesy of Henrik Stenberg


Royal Danish Ballet - Schumanns 2. Symfoni 2006/2007

Royal Danish Ballet - Schumanns 2. Symfoni 2006/2007

Photo © & courtesy of Henrik Stenberg


Royal Danish Ballet - Schumanns 2. Symfoni 2006/2007

Royal Danish Ballet - Schumanns 2. Symfoni 2006/2007

Photo © & courtesy of Henrik Stenberg


Royal Danish Ballet - Schumanns 2. Symfoni 2006/2007

Royal Danish Ballet - Schumanns 2. Symfoni 2006/2007

Photo © & courtesy of Henrik Stenberg


Royal Danish Ballet - Etudes 2004/2005

Royal Danish Ballet - Etudes 2004/2005

Photo © & courtesy of Martin Mydtskov Rønne


Royal Danish Ballet - Etudes 2004/2005

Royal Danish Ballet - Etudes 2004/2005

Photo © & courtesy of Martin Mydtskov Rønne


Royal Danish Ballet - Etudes 2004/2005

Royal Danish Ballet - Etudes 2004/2005

Photo © & courtesy of Martin Mydtskov Rønne

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