So, it is with immense excitement that balletomanes in the capital must look forward to the forthcoming visit by principals and soloists from the Royal Danish Ballet – one of the world’s oldest ballet companies, the origins of which go all the way back to the 18th century.
The Danes bring an all-Bournonville programme, and that in itself is cause for celebration. Not many companies dare tackle the specific demands of the Bournonville style, and certainly nobody does it like the Danes.
The 19th century dancer and choreographer Auguste Bournonville was the key influence in establishing the identity of Danish ballet. The Bournonville style seeks perfection not only in the execution of the steps themselves, but in the preparation and finalisation. Male dancers reach the highest virtuosity, their jumps and fast beats immediately identifiable.
For the ballerinas, nothing should seem strained – movements are required to flow in an understated manner, the arms held in front of the body, the line of the shoulder always refined and elegant.
This is ballet as high art, not vulgar circus.
For their brief London season, the Royal Danish Ballet brings a number of extracts of well-know Bournonville ballets, such as La Sylphide, and less famous ones, for example Konservatoriet (also known as Le Conservatoire) and Napoli.
La Sylphide was last seen in London in a much-acclaimed staging for the Royal Ballet by its then principal, the Danish dancer Johann Kobborg. It tells the story of the downfall of a forest sprite, who falls in love with a mortal and is betrayed by him. The choreography for the sylph, who must appear mischievous and weightless, and her beloved, a carefree and energetic Scottish lad, provides a beautiful illustration of the Bournonville style.
Napoli, originally a full-length ballet, is rarely performed in its entirety these days, but provides one of the most famous divertissements in the classical repertoire, and this should be part of the forthcoming London programme.
Equally fascinating will be Konservatoriet. A divertissement from the larger work, called The Dancing School, clearly displays the basics of Bournonville style and shows how he raised his technique to the purest art form.
That such a refined and classy company is coming to perform in a characterless barn of a theatre such as the Peacock is hard to understand… but it’s worth enduring its discomforts for what will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of the London ballet season.
|What||Royal Danish Ballet at the Peacock Theatre|
|Where||Peacock Theatre, Portugal Street, London, WC2A 2HT | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Holborn (underground)|
09 Jan 15 – 10 Jan 15, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
|Website||Click here to book via Sadler's Wells|