Fri, Nov 6, 2009
By Signe Hansen
The Royal Danish Ballet has gained worldwide recognition for its defining combination of traditional and modern ballet. Its unique quality is distinctively presented in this winter’s programme, so if in Copenhagen, not visiting the Royal Danish Theatre is almost inexcusable.
As one of the oldest ballet companies in Europe, the Danish Royal Ballet largely owes its standing to the legacy and heritage of Agust Bournonville, Ballet Master from 1830-1877. In 2008 another world-famous Dane, Nikolaj Hübbe, became Art Director of the ballet; Scan Magazine had the pleasure of talking to him.
The next three months Hübbe and the Royal Ballet are staging three very diverse ballets: In November a new version of Bournonville’s Napoli; in December the traditional Russian ballet The Nutcracker and in January a combination of Bournonville’s La Sylphide and Balanchine’s Symphony in C.
But which one would be best for a first visit? “I would certainly say Napoli or La Sylphide and Symphony in C. But The Nutcracker is kind of special too. It is performed all over the world during Christmas; it certainly belongs to December, so I find it hard to choose,” Hübbe says, before finally deciding,“but if you want to see the roots of the company, you should go to see Napoli and La Sylphide.”
A great heritage
The mixture of traditional and modern and Danish and international ballet is not unusual to Hübbe, who has performed all over the world. He began his career at the Danish Royal Ballet School; later he danced continuously as well as staging many of Bournonville’s ballets and he holds great respect for his predecessor. “The standing of the Royal Danish Ballet is largely due to this man whose ballets were later to become the basis of the romantic tradition in ballet,” he says. “Because of him the tradition of storytelling and romantic ballet was established in Copenhagen and then continued unbroken for the next 150 years.”
Hübbes fondness for the ballets of George Balanchine can, on the other hand, be attributed to his years as a principal dancer at the New York Ballet, where he danced many ballets of the choreographer regarded as one of the 21st century’s best.
For more information about ballets, operas and plays at the Royal Danish Theatre visit: www.kglteater.dk