"Swan Lake"
Royal Danish Ballet
The Opera House
Copenhagen, Denmark
February 3, 2007
Choreographic Workshop
January 27, 2007

by Eva Kistrup
copyright ©2007, Eva Kistrup

Commercially the revival of Peter Martins' ten year old production of "Swan Lake" has been a great success, playing to full houses. Artistically it has been a mixed bag. Tranfered to the larger Opera stage, Martins' interpolations have proven to be thin, and the casting of five leading couples has covered the full range from World Class (Kenneth Greve and Silja Schandorff) to miscast young, inexperienced and wrong type dancers. In late January the final Swan Queen, Amy Watson, finally made her debut.

Amy Watson, an American import who has been in Denmark for a number of years is a soloist who had been used in a variety of roles from Irma in "Abdallah," to "In the Middle - Somewhat Elevated," to "In the Night." Used widely, but not always wisely. She has been kept on the brink of stardom for the last couple of seasons, dancing a lot in the Bournonville year, and surprisingly scarce last season. It could be argued that Watson is in competition with Tina Højlund, Izabela Sokolowska, Yao Wei and Susanne Grinder for the next appointment for principal and her debut in "Swan Lake" is a strong endorsement for her candidature.

As the Swan Queen. Watson shines from the moment she enters the stage. Tall, staturesque and with a very expressive face she captures and communicates the essence of Odette, making every gesture clear. Her dancing is musical and three dimensional. The only critique could be that her legs are a bit passive, never really hitting the highest arabesques, but that is a minor issue, because everything was phrased beautifully. As Odile her acting is terrific, especially the segment where Odile imitates Odette. Unfortunately she could not manage the top notch pyrotechnics, but that was made up for by an exceptionally moving 4th act. She was partnered very well by Andrew Bowman.

Unfortunately she will not get the chance to grow on stage as the production closes down and is rumoured not to be on the repertoire of next season. Hopefully Watson has managed to prove herself a trump card that should be played and developed to full potential.

There is no doubt that "Swan Lake" has been a challenge for the company. The soloists have had to pull double duty, combining the various soloist assignments and filling out in the corps. Ideally the corps should have at least ten dancers more to cope and allow soloists to concentrate on developing their talents. For the last performance a new pas de trios emerged in first act. Camilla Ruelykke Holst proved herself a fine soubrette dancer, Meaghan Spedden an elegant adagio one. Sebastian Kloborg partnered them in a dedicated but not always well timed effort. He looked in serious need of some personal coaching in pacing the solos and deciding which steps and jumps should be pushed and which should be used as transition steps.

As well as battling with "Swan Lake," the company hosted a choreographic workshop where dancers can test their choreographic skills. These workshops have, over the last decades, presented a variety of choreographic miniatures and shown an interesting insight in how dancers perceive choreography. Of the many try outs some good choreographers have emerges, most importantly Tim Rushton ad Alexei Ratmansky. This time around we got the usual mixed bag ,from a Chekov–style piece to Tchaikovsky, modernist “meaningful” pieces, The ha-ha-funny popularity–angling piece and then two poignant miniatures were from a truly original talent, Esther Lee Wilkinson, who can create interesting steps and characters, most poignantly in "Albino," where she herself portrayed the loneliness of a tribal albino. May the company find the resources to let her develop what could be a very personal and interesting chorographic talent.

Photos (both by Henrik Stenberg):
Amy Watson as Odette, here with Jean Luc Massot as Siegfried, and Mogens Boesen as Von Rothbart.

Volume 5, No. 8
February 19, 2007

copyright ©2007 by Eva Kistrup

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