Royal Danish Ballet, Denmark, 2016

Tour Dates: 16th  - 26th June, 2016

The Royal Danish Ballet is one of the world’s oldest corps de ballet founded back in the 1770’ies...

Tour Dates
  • 16th - 26th June, 2016

16-17 June, 2016, 19:30, National Centre for the Performing Arts

18-19 June, 2016, 19:30, National Centre for the Performing Arts

23-24 June, 2016, 19:15, Shanghai Oriental Art Center

25-26 June, 2016, 19:15, Shanghai Oriental Art Center

The Royal Danish Ballet is one of the world’s oldest corps de ballet founded back in the 1770’ies – and with its Bournonville tradition the company holds an exceptional position internationally. No other ballet company has kept as many ballets in its repertory, danced in an uninterrupted tradition from the Romantic period of the nineteenth century: La Sylphide, Napoli and A Folk Tale by August Bournonville are master pieces, not only in Danish ballet history but also in an international context.

The Royal Danish Ballet, however, does not live in the past. During the twentieth century the Royal Danish Ballet has developed into a company also spanning modern style: From the neoclassical works by George Balanchine via Danish choreographers like Harald Lander and Flemming Flindt to the choreographers of our time both in Europe and USA such as John Neumeier, Maurice Béjart and Jiří Kylián. Adding to this the company also performs new creations by rising stars like Alexei Ratmansky, Wayne McGregor, Alexander Ekman, León & Lightfoot  and Christopher Wheeldon as well as the great classics like Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker. It goes without saying that hardly any other company in the world can meet as many requirements as the Royal Danish Ballet.

The Bournonville heritage will always represent the core of the Royal Danish Ballet. Through the vision of a constantly developing repertoire with new creations and choreographers, the past and present are merging into the magnificent and enchanted period that the company currently finds itself in.

Artistic Director: Nikolaj Hübbe

Nikolaj Hübbe, born in 1967 in Copenhagen, was admitted to the Royal Danish Ballet School in 1978, became an apprentice in 1984, member of the corps de ballet in 1986 and principal dancer in 1988. In 1992, he was appointed principal dancer at the New York City Ballet. During his time at the Royal Danish Theatre he performed the lead roles in most of the ballets in the Royal Danish Ballet repertoire, from romantic ballets, such as La Sylphide, Romeo and Juliet and Onegin, to neoclassical works, such as George Balanchine’s Apollon. Hübbe debuted with the New York City Ballet in Balanchine's Donizetti Variations in 1992. He quickly became one of the company’s star dancers and until his farewell performance in 2008, he appeared in lead roles in a variety of ballets, including those by Balanchine, Jerome Robbins and Peter Martins.

Hübbe has furthermore over the past 15 years choreographed and directed ballets, primarily for the Royal Danish Ballet. In 2008 he directed Giselle in joint association with Sorella Englund. The following year, the two directors presented their interpretation of an updated version of August Bournonville’s Napoli, and in 2011, they staged a new and more contemporary version of Bournonville’s fairytale ballet A Folk Tale. In 2012, Hübbe turned to Marius Petipa’s classic La Bayadère, and in 2014, he created choreography for Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, where the cast consisted of apprentices and the youngest dancers of the Royal Danish Ballet. Last season, he presented two new interpretations of classic works – La Sylphide in a very different setting, and, together with Silja Schandorff, s a new Swan Lake, a more minimalist and cinematic version rendered with illumination and visual effects.

Nikolaj Hübbe has since the 2008/2009 season been the Artistic Director of the Royal Danish Ballet.

Program: Napoli

In Napoli we meet Teresina and Gennaro, a young couple that must suffer greatly before they can finally be united. Due to their differing social background and the pettiness of society at large they find themselves in a situation they cannot handle. Nonetheless, their boundless love and Christian faith lead them to defeat the powers of darkness and enjoy happiness, which undoubtedly will last a lifetime. The teeming folklore of the first and third acts is rendered in stark contrast to the demonic yet enticing world of the Blue Grotto, but as in any good fairytale all ends well: Light triumphs over darkness, good triumphs over evil, and love triumphs over death.

Napoli premiered at the Royal Danish Theatre on 29 March 1842, was an instant success and has remained one of Denmark’s favourite ballets ever since. Napoli is not only one of Bournonville’s masterpieces; it is also one of the most influential ballets of the entire international repertoire. The ballet features elements from folktales, while also reflecting the ethos of Romanticism and the choreographer himself. Joy is the message, and the ballet is a shining example of the positive Danish interpretation of Romanticism.

Program: La Sylphide

La Sylphide was originally choreographed by Filippo Taglioni to music by Jean Schneitzhoeffer and premiered at the Paris Opera on 12 March 1832 under the title La Sylphide. Bournonville saw the ballet in Paris and decided to make his own version based on the same story. Since the original score was very costly, he chose to commission new music from the then only 20-year-old composer Herman Severin Løvenskiold. On 28 November 1836, La Sylphide premiered at the Royal Danish Theatre with Lucile Grahn in the role of the Sylph and with Bournonville himself as James. After a few decades, La Sylphide disappeared from the stage of the Paris Opera, but remained on the repertoire in Denmark. Here, the story of the wistful James, the unattainable Sylph and the demonic sorcerer Madge has been performed since then, handed down from generation to generation.

La Sylphide is one of the most beloved ballets of Bournonville’s wide repertoire, although with its melancholic tone and tragic end it is equally uncharacteristic of the choreographer’s otherwise optimistic ethos. The ballet is typical of the romantic period and its penchant for exotic nature and an ethereal female ideal, yet it is also timeless in its embrace of the dilemmas of bourgeois life, torn between the comforts of existence and the irresistible fascination of the unknown.

Program: Theme and Variations

Theme and Variations performed to Pjotr Tjajkovskij’s third orchestral suite is George Balanchine’s homage to Marius Petipa and the magnificent ballet style of the master, which Balanchine loved and knew so well. ”To evoke that great period in classical dancing when Russian ballet flourishedwith the aid ofTchaikovsky’s music,” Balanchine once said. The work traces its roots to the Imperial Russian ballet and features a cast of principal dancers, soloists and corps dancers. However, the ballet also demonstrates with great distinction Balanchine’s unique ability to toy with movement and music so that you sense, above all, the purity and modernity of the 20th century.

Theme and Variations is a breathtaking and mind-blowing demonstration of the classic ballet techniques, served in a sharp and extremely demanding choreography. Balanchine took advantage of many repetitions, like Petipa, built up the ballet with solos, a central pas de deux, variations, and concluded with a climax in the grand finale with all 26 dancers. The formal beauty reflects the simplicity of the musical theme that Balanchine described as "so elegant and restrained - pure Mozart ".