Drunk on ballet – it's the only possible explanation for Haglund getting downright weepy over watching the ladies of The Royal Danish Ballet as they continually rose all the way up through 3/4 releve before arriving en pointe and descended the same way. A 3/4 releve in pointe shoes is worth a few tears of joy. We don't see it around here much.
Friday night, the Danes opened the first of four performances of Bournonville's La Sylphide. What a superb, charming, technically dazzling, romantic, tasteful, lovingly danced performance it was! Everyone must see this either today or tomorrow. Watching the Danes' soft, articulate feet quietly speed through the most complex steps was like listening to Renee Fleming sing Armida or Rodelinda. No one sings quietly more beautifully than Renee Fleming and no one dances petit allegro like the Danes. No dash, no flash - just brilliance delivered modestly and lovingly.
The cast included Gudrun Bojesen as La Sylphide, Ulrik Birkkjaer as James, Nicolai Hansen as Gurn, and the magnificent Sorella Englund as Madge, the witch. Oh, what a witch and what a brew of mayhem she concocted! The pristine, airy elegance of Ms. Bojesen's Sylphide and the honest, rapid fire feet of Mr. Birkkjaer made for some of the most refreshing ballet seen in New York this spring. Mr. Hansen offered no less in the way of stunning technique as Gurn, and his variation with the coupe jetes entournant was flawless.
Haglund came away from last night's performance with such respect and admiration for The Royal Danish Ballet for maintaining the standards of the Bournonville technique by which the rest of the dancing world must measure itself. They are simply superb. Their feet sing like no others do.
That said, and hopefully none of the ballerinas or danseurs will feel slighted, but the Alexander McQueen witchy Pump Bump Award must be bestowed upon Sorella Englund for her stirring performance as Madge. This witch rocks!