Young Ladies About Town

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An evening with The Royal Danish Ballet

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Young Ladies About Town
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on Thursday, 15 January 2015
It has been ten years since The Royal Danish Ballet last visited Sadler's Wells and their performances in London in January attracted the ballet establishment and dance enthusiasts, eager to see this rare balletic jewel.

In a programme entitled Bournonville Celebrations, soloists and principals of The Royal Danish Ballet presented a programme of classical choreography by August Bournonville, the 19th century Danish choreographer who raised the standards of male dance at a time when the female ballerina dominated the stage.

For Bournonville, dance was 'essentially an expression of joy' and watching his choreography was like being transported back to a more gracious and innocent age before angular movement to pumping electronic music had even been thought of.

Excerpts from romantic ballets such as The Flower Festival in Genzano, La Sylphide and The Conservatory, among others, showed us the lightness of jump or 'ballon' that the Danes are famous for the world over. This was pure classical dance - men and women traditionally costumed with the girls in soft ballet skirts and puffed sleeves.

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A humorous interlude was the Jockey Dance from Bournonville's last ballet, From Siberia to Moscow, choreographed in 1876. Two men, dressed as jockeys, jumped and leapt across the stage in a tribute to the English love of horse racing. Sebastian Haynes sizzled with personality, aplomb and youth.

The programme ended with what has become something of a Danish institution even though it's set in Italy. The three act ballet Napoli from1842 became one of Bournonville's most popular works and has now been in the company repertoire for more than 170 years.

Its 'pas de six' from the last act was a chance for the dancers to show all the rhythm, harmony and elegance of the Bournonville style. It was a happy ending in the best of European ballet traditions and left the audience uplifted, just as the great choreographer intended.

Gillian Spickernell
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