Thursday, 11 November 2010


A recap of some highlights from the last week of October before I try to tackle my travel break stories.
I went to another ballet with my History of European Ballet class and did my short reflection paper too.

The Fisherman and His Bride
            It’s 7:55pm the night of Monday October 25th, 2010. Imagine sitting in a plush red velvet chair on one of the balconies at the old stage in the Danish Royal Theater about to enjoy a performance by the Royal Danish Ballet Company. The gold trimmed balconies climb up to the ceiling, and curve close around the playhouse in a way that feels close and intimate with the stage; though it does make some seats more difficult to enjoy than others. The excitement is growing as the last curtain call sounds and the rest of the audience finds their seats. The curtain goes up, and immediately you are pulled back in time and across Europe to the bustling streets of Napoli, the Italian village on the island of Capri, in the 1950’s.  People are everywhere on stage. Dancing and main character action pulls the eyes to the front of the stage while sailors, young women, shop owners, shoppers, street urchins and other town folk mingle and small vignettes can be found to the rear and sides of the stage. As the ballet progresses, the well explored characters, wonderfully impressive sets, and superb music by the Danish National Chamber Orchestra, (directed by David Levi) suck you in to another world for a few hours and you sail away with the love story of Gennaro and Teresina (played by Alexander Staeger and Amy Waston).
            The ballet tonight is a new version of August Bournonville’s classic ballet Napoli, put together by Sorella Englund and Nikoalj Hubbe. The original music was composed by Edvard Helstad, H.S Paulli and H.C. Lumbye and has a lightness and happiness to it that complements Bournonville’s style very well and highlights the ‘I-love-to-dance-and-it-is-so-easy’ feeling the movement has. Maja Ravn’s sets and costumes were two of the most impressive parts of the performance for me. For the first and third acts, the moving picture on the back screen beautifully set the towns location at the base of Mt Vesuvius. The moving film brought the set to life with birds flying in the sky, the rain taking over the stage during the storm, the underwater grotto floating underneath the sea in Act two and even the sun coming out as the sadness of the third act changes to elation and celebration. The sets helped to tell the story in an interactive way that I feel few sets do so well. The many elaborate yet unfussy costumes and the changes in lighting (by Mikki Kuntu) intensified the differences in the acts and brought the characters out in a visually appealing way.
            Many changes have been made from the show that was first performed in 1842 after Bournonville was inspired by all that he saw of the village streets from his window during a visit to Napoli. Supposedly, in the past, the second act has been the audiences least favorite, and people would even use the time to go enjoy a drink at a cafĂ© down the street. However, in this version, the second act has been entirely remade with brand new music by Louise Alenius and completely new choreography by the two directors. The misty, magical setting of the underwater grotto combined with the performances of the sea demon Golfo (played by Jean-Lucien Massot) and the other dancers and the new intense choreography breathe energy and excitement into the drama of almost lost and forgotten love. The stunningly beautiful costumes accentuate the natural forms of the dancers and enhance the ethereal nature of the movement.  Not having seen the original version, I cannot compare the two, but the new version is something I would be very sad to have missed
            The story itself is another reason the night was so enjoyable. One simply cannot help but enjoy a love story with a happy ending. The couple comes up against Teresina’s mother’s disapproval and judgment from the townspeople before going sailing together and being caught in a storm that leaves Teresina lost at sea and Gennaro blamed and heartbroken. When Gennaro ventures under the sea to find his love, she has been taken in by the sea demon Golfo and has forgotten her human life. Only with his music, a pendant necklace from their life together and a kiss is he able to awaken her memory. Even then they must fight for freedom and the chance to be together before they can journey back to the town of Napoli. There they find Teresina’s funeral in progress. After her mother and other family and friends have been assured that Teresina is still alive, they see the power of the young couples love and finally give their blessings.  The ballet ends in a great wedding celebration full of dancing from start to grand finale finish. The three acts were very different but I feel that, instead of making for an odd choppy show, they balanced each other out and made the performance a well rounded piece. I was so taken with the story and characters that each new surprise or twist simply added to my love of the story. I left with a great urge to visit Capri and see the town of Napoli for myself.

On Wednesday, my Danish Language Class went to the Danish Resistance Museum.
The history of Denmark's experience and reaction to the Nazi's in WW2 was displayed in a toughful detailed way that explained the governents and teh peopels reactions and tried to explain why they reacted this way and the pros and cons of the behavior. I dont want to get into a history lesson right now, but i do suggest googling Denmark and the nazi occupation if you want to know more. basically, the danish government compromised as long as possible with the nazi's in a effort to make things easier on the Danish people and keep the Danish gov in existence. there were resistence fighters (mostly young people who felt that the government was wrong and since they did not vote to elect the politicians they decided to take matters into their own hands). when the time came for the nazi's to turn against Denmarks Jews, the Danish people succeeded in helping the majority of teh danish jewish community to escape to Sweden before the roundup was started. the book, "Leeway Cottage", by Beth Gutcheon, tells a lot of this history in a story format. i only read a few chapters, but i thought it was really interesting ad want to finish it when i can.

practicum (working in the classroom with my kids),
finishing up a few more papers
and getting through my Danish class Oral midterm 
all had to be sqeezed in before my trave break could begin. 

I spent the last two weeks in
Vienna, Budapest, Prague and Amsterdam 
with very full days so the next blog will be a major one.
 it might take a while but only becasue i want to to be good :)

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