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Susanne Grinder and Kizzy Matiakis in Conservatory. Photo Costin Radu

Susanne Grinder and Kizzy Matiakis in Conservatory. Photo Costin Radu

Bournonville Celebrations

LONDON: Soloists and principals of The Royal Danish Ballet came to London in a flurry of fairy feet, flaunting rapid fire batterie, melting pliés and soaring jumps.

These delights we expected and they were warmly welcomed but the performances were also plagued by those demons that beset a touring company: poor lighting, taped music, the occasional costume malfunction and some uneven pairing. I heard rumours of a slippery stage but by the third performance the dancers looked more relaxed and at ease.

For more photos see the Swedish version

It is 10 years since the Danes were last in town and the programme of traditional Bournonville was just what aficionados had been thirsting for. Among the highlights was Gudrun Bojesen’s enchanting Sylph and Ulrik Birkkjaer’s beats. Birkkjaer’s solo in Conservatory was a lesson in Bournonville style and technique: his high definition entrechat six performed with a clarity bordering on the impossible.

A carefully curated La Sylphide closed the first half; a handful of sylphs and an imposing Sorella Englund as The Witch managing to conjure up the magic. Bojesen’s performance was defined by exquisite timing - deepening her plié or extending a gesture to perfectly fill the music - and her delicious characterisation, a thoughtless, wayward and absolutely irresistible creature. Her James, Birkkjaer on the Friday and Gregory Dean on the Saturday night, were rightly smitten.

The two English dancers, principal dancer Dean and soloist Kizzy Matiakis, were featured in the company and did their country proud. Dean, who joined in 2008, showed an exceptional jump enhanced with a touch of modern masculinity. Matiakis who has been in the company since 2003 is very much at home in the Danish style with fleet footwork, poised balance and effortless musicality.

Two young men, still officially in the corps were outstanding. Sebastian Haynes who danced the fiercely competitive Jockey Dance paired with Marcin Kupinski is definitely a high flyer while Andreas Kaas, who danced Flower Festival with the charming Diana Cuni, promises to continue the Danish tradition of elegant male dancers. His technique is secure, (although his partnering had its uncertain moments), while his stage presence brims with natural appeal.

The evening closed predictably with Napoli where each of the dozen dancers has their moment and makes the most of it. It was a joyous close to the evening and I hope we don’t have to wait so long for the next visit.

Maggie Foyer
20 January 2015

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