Budget ballet, but still a bargain
As in previous seasons, the Royal Danish Ballet is recruiting new balletomanes with its popular discount performances. All tickets cost 200 kroner for a triple dance bill that is entirely abstract, and yet couldn’t be more diverse. The evening opens with a contemporary ballet, passes the modern era and finishes with a key scene of classical ballet from the late 19th century. Each of the works is introduced by a short behind-the-scenes video in which dan-cers talk about the rehearsal process and their personal approach to the pieces.
The performances are worthwhile, and the programme is put together well as an introduction to the art form’s richness. The evening, however, feels more ‘budget ballet’ than its predecessor, which featured live music from the Royal Danish Orchestra.
The grand opera stage is the appropriate frame for contemporary masterpiece ‘Chroma’ – last season the Royal Danish Ballet performed it disadvantageously on the intimate playhouse stage. Moreover, Wayne McGregor’s extremely challenging and often acrobatic choreography seems to have settled in the dancers’ bodies, so that the dancing now matches the intensity of the music – an orchestral arrangement of tunes by the White Stripes.
‘The Unsung’ is a late piece of American modern dance by choreographer José Limon. Inspired by native American culture, it was first performed in 1970. Eight male dancers move in complete silence but, according to soloist Gregory Dean, the piece’s rhythmical structure means that “you can hear the music in your head when you dance”. The Royal Danish Ballet describes the proud and energetic performance that emphasises gravity in heavy-stomping movements as “macho”. And yet, ‘The Unsung’ also features gentle lifts and fascinates by how carefully the dancers listen to each other’s bodies to achieve perfect synchronicity.
‘The Kingdom of the Shades’, an excerpt from Marius Petipa’s 1877 ballet ‘La Bayadère’, concludes the programme. The corps de ballet performs this seminal ballet scene with impeccable beauty. Principal Ulrik Birkkjær reassuringly partners Hilary Guswiler who dances the solo part of the bayadère Nikija for the first time and excels as a remarkable technician throughout the evening.
Dans2Go will continue playing at Forum until March 1. See page G2 in InOut for more details. Meanwhile, the full version of ‘La Bayadère’, is returning next month after a winter break for five more performances from March 7-15. See next week’s InOut for more details.