La Sylphide – Bolshoi Ballet
October 9, 2012
Tickets: $18 - Public / $15 - Members / $6 - Students. La Sylphide is one of the world’s oldest surviving romantic ballets, dating back to August Bournonville’s 1836 version. The version presented today has been adapted by choreographer Johan Kobborg, and gleams anew at the Bolshoi Ballet. In La Sylphide, the human realm of a small Scottish community – evoked by traditional folk songs in Herman Løvenskiold’s score – meets the spiritual when James, a classic Romantic hero, is utterly bewitched by a beautiful sylph whom he is unable to touch.
ABOUT THE CHOREOGRAPHERS
August BOURNONVILLE (Denmark, 1805-1879) studied dance at the Royal Danish Ballet, under the direction of his father. He then completed his training in Paris from 1824 to 1830. On his return from France, he succeeded to his father as head of the Royal Danish Ballet, a position he held until 1877. Contrary to the trend of the Romantic ballet of the time, Bournonville does not give less importance to the male dancer: he gives equal importance to both male and female dancers. This choice, both social and aesthetic, is still visible today, since the Danish school is reknown for training great male performers. Johan KOBBORG is a Danish dancer born in Odense in 1972. After starting his career at the Royal Danish Ballet School at the age of sixteen, he joined the London Royal Ballet in 1999 where he became Principal Dancer. He is now recognised across the world as one of the leading dancers of his generation. Kobborg has also been the recipient of numerous prizes and awards, including the Nureyev International Competition (Grand Prix 1994), USA International Competition, Jackson, USA (Grand Prix 1994) and the Erik Bruhn Competition (1993) and received a 2006 Laurence Olivier Award nomination for his production of La Sylphide which he produced in 2005 for the Royal Ballet’s.In 2008, Johan Kobborg presented a new choreographic version of La Sylphide at the Bolshoi theatre.
La Sylphide is one of the world’s oldest surviving romantic ballets. August Bournonville’s version is an adaptation of an 1832 French ballet of the same name, which showcased the technique of the great 19th-century ballerina Maria Taglioni, and ushered in a new Romantic era of dance. Bournonville was the first choreographer to recreate La Sylphide and it is his version that has survived – it has been performed regularly by the Royal Danish Ballet since its premiere in 1836 and remains one of his most celebrated works. In La Sylphide, the human realm of a small Scottish community – evoked by traditional folk songs in Herman Løvenskiold’s score – meets the spiritual realm of the otherworldly sylphs. James, a classic Romantic hero, is utterly bewitched by a beautiful sylph: although he is unable to touch her, he movingly echoes her movements in his. Bournonville placed a greater emphasis on the narrative in his version of the ballet and developed the characters of the embittered witch and James (a role he danced himself). The Royal Ballet’s production is staged by the Danish choreographer Johan Kobborg, himself steeped in the Bournonville style.
In a Scottish manor-house, on the morning of his wedding, James wakes up from a dream to discover a beautiful winged sylph before him. Entranced by the vision, he attempts to capture her but she escapes him and vanishes. During the wedding preparations, James hardly notices Effie; instead she is wooed by Gurn whom she ignores. James joins in the preparations but gradually realizes that his dreams go far beyond the walls of the manor-house and that his obsession with the winged creature risks his own happiness and that of his fiancée Effie.