Gudrun well set for a very good run
A new double bill courtesy of the Royal Danish Ballet will surprise anyone who associates the Danish Bournonville tradition with otherworldly creatures and long white tutus. The new stagings of two pieces by August Bournonville stand for ballet’s second preoccupation during the Romantic period: its attraction to exotic locales. While ‘La Ventana’ (‘The Window’) is set in ‘remote’ Spain, ‘Kermessen i Brügge’ (‘The Kermesse in Bruges’) is removed in time.
With ‘La Ventana’, Gudrun Bojesen makes a remarkable staging debut. Bojesen has danced with the Royal Danish Ballet since the early 1990s and is a particularly acclaimed performer of the Bournonville ballets. Her off-stage debut was originally choreographed in 1856. It features exotic Spanish dancing in a balleticised version as per European fashion in the 19th century. Bojesen invents a prologue to La Ventana that she isn’t afraid to pace staggeringly slow. Along with Steen Bjarke’s sparing use of props and a singer and a guitarist’s heart-wrenching flamenco sounds, this sets the melancholy atmosphere all the more effectively. A dejected Señor enters, sits down, but refuses the wine and rather indulges in his lovesickness. Until the flamenco singer encourages him to make a move on the Señorita he has fallen for. The ballet’s famous mirror dance follows after the prologue and makes for a sound transition to Bournonville’s decidedly more merry choreography. Bojesen’s layering of traditional and new material works surprisingly well – in the music as well as in the scenography.
Amy Watson is perfectly cast as the coquettish yet cool Señorita; Marcin Kupiñski’s Señor lets the Bournonville technique shine. On top of that, the two appear to thoroughly enjoy their partnering.
Ib Andersen stages the evening’s second piece, ‘The Kermesse in Bruges’. The former principal with the Royal Danish Ballet is now the artistic director of Ballet Arizona. ‘Kermesse in Bruges’ is regarded as Bournonville’s only comic ballet – a genre scarcely attempted in dance. But with their acting prowess the company succeeds in eliciting a good few giggles from the audience. The intricate story of three couples and countless misunderstandings is set in 17th century Bruges. Jérôme Kaplan’s scenography and costumes magnificently evoke the period’s aesthetics.
La Ventana & Kermessen i Brügge