Jump to content

Royal Danish Ballet Festival

Recommended Posts

The RDB Ballet Festival starts today, with a performance of Napoli (Ulrik Birkkjær, Amy Watson, Jonathan Chmelensky).

And tomorrow is Bournonville Day, with an open company class, several films, discussions etc and a Bournonvilleana programme in the evening.


Anyone who's going, please tell us about it! Nikolaj Hubbe has put a lot of effort into putting this over as a festival for Denmark and it will be interesting to know how it works out.


(For RB fans: Reece Clarke is one of the guestd in the end-of-Festival Gala next weekend.)


  • Like 9
Link to comment
Share on other sites

For a week ago I was lucky to be  at " Napoli" performance. It was a glorious evening, with the Queen Margrethe and her sister Benedicte present and a speech of Nikolaj Hubbe opening the ballet festival. 
    I personally was very glad to see Ulrik Birkkjær ( Gennaro) back; I believe he looks and dances more self confident and sure even though he was away from the company for almost a year. He and Amy Watson ( Teresina) made a beautiful couple and she danced and acted very well but sometimes there was a lack of coordination between them - like for example she was sending him a kiss while he wasn't looking and vice versa. 
   In the first act there were a lot of people on the stage, and even a dog ( accompanying a blind person), quite cute, but sometimes distracting from the actual performance. A lot of different characters, each one with its own story, everything quite amusing but probably creating a feeling of overcrowdedness sometimes. Besides Ulrik Birkkjær ( Gennaro) and Amy Watson ( Teresina), I liked Alba Nadal ( Teresina's friend Giovanina) who had been quite noticeable on the scene as well as Jon Axel Fransson and Tobias Praetorius ( Gennaro's friends). If it  depended on me, I'd promoted Alba Nadal to soloist ages ago, but alas! Evidently Nikolaj Hubbe is of different opinion even though he constantly gives to this ballet dancer significant roles and engages her a lot in the performances ( in " Napoli" she danced in every act, and it was a pure delight to see her dancing and acting)!
   I liked more the second act now than when I saw it for the first time several years ago. The corps danced beautifully, and Jonathan Chmelensky created a convincing image of a sea king Golfo, who seemed to be both dominant and sensitive to the beauty of Teresina. Two of his assistants - Corella ( Alba Nadal) and Argentina (Emma Riis-Kofoed) danced perfectly well, I was quite impressed by the ability of Emma Riis-Kofoed who graduated from the RDB school only last year. 
   The third act was an ultimate pleasure to watch. Here we could see practically everybody , and everybody did its best in delivering the genuine Bournonville spirit of this ballet. 
   As now we are blessed with a truly Italian summer weather, Nikolaj Hubbe suggested to the spectators to continue the evening outside the theatre dancing to the 50s music,  it was very tempting but unfortunately I had to hurry home as I live quite far from Copenhagen.
   I'm certainly looking forward to the "Napoli" in the coming season!


  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the report Estreiiita.  I had hopes of coming to this year's festival (having sooooooo enjoyed the one in 2005) but unfortunately the bulk of it has clashed with Northern Ballet at The Lowry.


Are you able to see any more of the festival performances?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It sounds as if it may be fun - the guest dancers are


Lauren Lovette (NYCB)

Semyon Chudin (Bolshoi)

Reece Clarke (RB)

Dorothee Gilbert (POB)

Francesco Mura (POB)


and it looks as if at least some of them are going to be dancing with an RDB dancer - those listed as taking part are


Ida Praetorius

J'aime Crandall

Emma Riis-Kofoed

Ulrik Birkkjær

Marcin Kupinski


So far all I've seen is that Praetorius and Chudin will do Sleeping Beaty Act 3 and Lovette will do Stars and Stripes...


Also 3 of the RDB senior ladies - Grinder, Matiakis and Watson - do Bournonville's Three Graces and the programme ends with Holly Dorger, Andreas Kaas, Jon Axel Fransson and Jonathan Chmelensky in Etudes.


(I think there has already been an open rehearsal so perhaps someone else can fill in the blanks)

Edited by Jane S
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, that's always a nice cheerful gala number.


It looks as if each guest has brought something from their home repertoire - Dorothee Gilbert has just posted an Instagram picture of her rehearsing 'Auber' with Marcin Kupinski - will this be Grand Pas Classique? And that leaves Birkkjaer to do Stars and Stripes.


Presumably there will be a Bournonville piece too - Emma Riis-Kofoed perhaps? I bet she didn't expect to end her first year in the company like this!


Link to comment
Share on other sites

The programme was



Flower Festival inGenzano pdd

Emma Riis-Kofoed/Francesco Mura


Grand pas de Classique

Dorothee Gilbert/Marcin Kupinski


The Sleeping  Beauty gpdd

Ida Praetorius/Semyon Chudin


Fatherland Muser

Sussanne Grinder/Kizzy Matiakis/Amy Watson


Swamp pdd from Manon

J'amie Crandall/Reece Clarke


Stars and Stripes

Lauren Lovette/Ulrik Birkkjaer





Holly Jean Dorger/Andreas Kaas

Jonathan Chemelensky, Jon Axel Fransson


  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Having attended the wonderful 1979 Festival and part of the 2005 one (I was unable to go in 1992), I  would have happily gone to this year's, but when I saw the programming,  I scaled back my plans. (I believe Hubbe said he wanted to show that the Danes dance more than just Bournonville, but surely anyone who glanced at their schedule would know that, as nowadays it seems that they scarcely dance ANY Bournonville.)  I planned to go for the two Bournonville nights, but as it turned out, 1 June was the only time I could see Marianela and Vadim in Lake, and as I'm not overly fond of the current production of Napoli, anyway, it was an easy choice for me, and so I saw only the "Bournonvilleana" program on the second night (as well as one of the films, "Bournonville Today," shown that afternoon).

The evening featured large chunks of La Sylphide and lots of excerpts (some of them VERY excerpted, like the boys' solos from the William Tell and Flower Festival pas de deux) from other ballets of Bournonville, and closed with the pas de six, tarantella and finale of the current production of Napoli.  I enjoyed much of the dancing, and the third act of Napoli always makes me smile, but the first two parts felt TOO condensed and extracted to me--a bit like drinking Bournonville through a straw where a lot of the good stuff is left in the glass.

No ballet company should become a museum, but I'm deeply troubled by a company's disregard of its unique and valuable heritage--whether it's ABT's current blindness for its Tudor/DeMille background or the RDB's apparent consignment of much of Bournonville to the dustbin (with the rest of it apparently deracinated in order to conform to Hubbe's views on religion or "deforestrated" in the interests of modernity), which they won't even dust off every 13 years, it would seem.  Instead, we get too many pallid versions of ballets that are danced (in some cases, more strongly) by many other companies in more vibrant versions.


Edited by now voyager
  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...