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In the Ballet, Napoli, Who Is the Lady in the Blue Dress?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Blue Angel: Viktoria Brandt

Thank you for the question, Ingrid & Hanne Kuhlman

In August Bournonville’s ballet, Napoli, there is one character that can be a little tricky to figure out. The ballet opens up with a scene of the streets of Napoli. A charming, busy, dirty city on the sea in Italy. You meet the two main characters, Teresina & Gennaro. They are very much in love with each other. Teresina’s mother, Veronica, doesn’t want her daughter to marry Gennaro, a poor fisherman. Veronica introduces her daughter to two other possible suitors, Peppo and Giacamo, much wealthier options. Teresina will not have it and begs for her mother’s approval. BUT! Amid all of this, a woman dressed in a blue robe comes on stage and has a short dialogue with Teresina and Gennaro.

Teresina: Alexandra LoSardo, Gennaro: Alban Lendorf, Blue Angel: Josephine Berggreen

This character, in the newest version by Nikolaj Hubbe and Sorella Englund is called the Blue Angel. Originally the Blue Angel was in fact, a Catholic monk. Nikolaj and Sorella wanted to take a step away from having only one form of religion represented and decided to incorporate all religions by having her represent love.

The Blue Angel can ONLY be seen by Teresina and Gennaro. This is because they are the ones fighting for their love. The Blue Angel guides the couple throughout the ballet. You’ll see the Blue Angel in first act, have Teresina give her necklace to Gennaro, representing her choice in love.

Teresina: Holly Dorger, Gennaro: Jonathan Chmelensky, Blue Angel: Viktoria Brandt

Later, once Teresina has drowned and Gennaro is on the cusp of committing suicide, the Blue Angel reappears to Gennaro and tells him to search for Teresina in the Blue Grotto. She will not allow him to give up on love.

Gennaro: Alban Lendorf, Blue Angel: Josephine Berggreen
Gennaro: Jonathan Chmelensky, Blue Angel: Viktoria Brandt

At the end of the ballet, you’ll see the blue angel cross the stage on the infamous bridge, at the couples wedding festivities. She is watching over them. Love prevailed.

Gennaro: Alban Lendorf, Blue Angel: Josephine Berggreen

In the original version with the Catholic Pilgrim, in first act, you see Teresina give the monk her heart necklace instead of Gennaro. The monk then blesses Teresina and Gennaro and their love. The monk also is the character to stop Gennaro from committing suicide when they learn that Teresina has disappeared.

Teresina: Holly Dorger, Gennaro: Jonathan Chmelensky, Blue Angel: Viktoria Brandt

There is a version on YouTube from 1986, that is of a pretty good filming quality, following closer to the original version, including the Pigrim. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdR2N4u3r5A

Teresina: Linda Hindberg, Gennaro: Arne Villumsen, Monk: ?

Or…

There is Nikolaj Hubbe’s and Sorella Englund’s version from 2013 on KGLExtra. This is the version the Royal Danish Ballet currently performs. https://kglteater.dk/xtra/forestillinger/forestilling-napoli/

Teresina: Alexandra LoSardo, Gennaro: Alban Lendorf, Blue Angel: Josephine Berggreen

Hope that helped! Enjoy Napoli. It is a fantastic ballet!

Xo
-Hol

What Are Some Recommendations of Videos In Order to Learn More About Ballet?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Monday, April 6, 2020

Photo: China Magazine

Thank you for the question, @papagena_

Yes! Fabulous that you would like to learn more about the ballet world. In order to not over load you with ideas and suggestions, as there really is a huge supply of materials out there that can take you in all sorts of fascinating directions. I’ve compiled two videos each about the two choreographers that I find the most interesting and influential in my life, George Balanchine and August Bournonville.

Balanchine:

Balanchine History:

Fantastic Clips of many Balanchine Ballets showing the diversity and range:

Bournonville:

Bournonville History: (Documentary in Danish)

https://www.dr.dk/drtv/program/bournonville_118985

History (In English):
Part 1:

Part 2:

Entire performance of his full length ballet, Napoli

https://kglteater.dk/kgl/xtra/forestilling-napoli/

I hope you enjoy!
xoxo
-Hol

Which Role Has Fulfilled You the Most?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Saturday, April 4, 2020

Photo: Selina Meier

Thank you for the question, andersen_annette

Oooh that’s a big question! So many roles have touched me. The lead ballerina in, Etudes, is very dear to me because it was my first Principal Part as a professional dancer. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to revisit the ballet every few years. I feel that Etudes represents my growth as a dancer and artist.

In Etudes. Photo: Costin Radu

The entire Balanchine repertoire means a lot to me because of my training at the School of American Ballet.  I spent four years in NYC admiring and learning Balanchine ballets, which became my foundation and core. Most recently, I trained with Merrill Ashley, for the premiere of Ballo Della Regina. Having the opportunity to learn from a living, Balanchine legend was a memory I’ll never forget. To be able to explore and dive into every step, every day for nearly five weeks was ballerina heaven. I learned so much from that experience that I consciously try to add to every role that I do moving forward.

Performing, Ballo Della Regina

As for full-length story ballets, Giselle is certainly a character I treasure. I felt, as many ballerinas must also, that I shared and understood many of the emotions of Giselle throughout the ballet. Falling in love, betrayal, heartbreak and finally forgiveness.

Giselle First Act with Jonathan Chmelensky.

The great challenge in Giselle was transforming from the mad scene in first act to finding the complete inner peace and calm to do the penches, center stage, alone with a spotlight in the second act. I believe that this ballet helped me discover new depths of my artistry that I’d never explored before. 

Giselle Second Act with Jonathan Chmelensky.

But I’ve never had more fun, than performing as Alice in Wheeldon’s, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Absolutely pure joy the entire way through! I love that production to pieces. It is magical! So much dancing! So many smiles to give to the audience!

Alice.

xoxo
-Hol

PS- You can currently stream Alice in your own living room, https://kglteater.dk/kgl/xtra/forestilling-alice-i-eventyrland?fbclid=IwAR2nAivcMEKzzwdCVdRrh3BZmrqgWT8h_SQVhfXO0JNFegsGKAKAIFDArzA

How Do You Customize Your Pointe Shoes?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Friday, March 13, 2020

Photo: Hummel

Thank you for the question, Misslilydoesballet

As many ballerinas have said before me and will say after me… “It has taken me years to customize my shoes.” And it’s true! It has taken me years! Luckily, I am currently very happy with them.

My Shoes are Freeds. (Always and Forever)

I wear maker, V. I have worn this maker ever since I became a professional. Nearly thirteen years!! I love my maker V. I hear, he has become quite popular and now it’s extremely difficult to become a new customer of his! Go maker V! He is magic.

I currently wear size 5 and a heel pin, XX. (for a long time I wore 5 1/2 X… but my bunions grew.) :/

FREED. 5. XX. V

I use a leather insole. I loooove my leather insole. I have Freed cut the sole so it is only 10cm long. DO NOT DO THIS UNLESS YOU’VE BEEN IN POINTE SHOES FOR YEARS! This is extremely dangerous to do if you are young or new to pointe. By cutting the insole, it takes out all of the support in the shoe that protects the feet and ankles. It’s a little crazy. I admit it. I dance with very little actual shoe. You can only do this if you have trained your ankles to be strong. Very strong. *Don’t try at home.*

My leather insole.

I have cut down the sides of my shoes so the arch of the foot is shown more. This was one of the first things I did when I started to customize my shoes so I don’t even remember how much it is that I cut down.

Lastly, I use an elastic draw string!

These shoes have given me some of my absolute BEST memories. I am so grateful for them. Truly love what I do.

Photo: Hummel

xoxo,
-Hol

What Was Your Journey Like To Get To The Royal Danish Ballet?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Monday, February 24, 2020

Photo: Kglteater

Thank you for the question, @liv.book

Do you know the song, My Way, by Frank Sinatra? (such a good song) 🙂 It is a fantastic reminder that everyone has their own path in life. Their fate will be lived out their way. Twists, curve-balls, and unexpected challenges will occur to everyone at some point during their life’s journey. Life can be truly unpredictable! Maybe your path will take you in a totally different direction then you originally planned! That is exactly what happened to me. And it turned out to be my biggest blessing in disguise!

I moved away from home to N.Y.C. at 14 years old to become a year round student at the School of American Ballet. (SAB) SAB is the ballet school that feeds in to The New York City Ballet. (NYCB) In order to join the company, all dancers must attend SAB. So for four years, I trained everyday in hopes of getting in to the NYCB.

During my four years at SAB, Nikolaj Hubbe, a Danish star dancer with both the Royal Danish Ballet and The New York City Ballet, used to teach a few classes at the school in his spare time. I met Nikolaj when I was fourteen years old, in my first year at the school when he was my substitute teacher one day. What is pretty remarkable is that if you ask him today, he still remembers exactly where I stood at the barre during class. (Second girl in line, by the door. An easy escape (if needed) and I always had a girl in front of me for both sides, in case I didn’t pick up the combination.) 😉

Napoli

Fast forward to about half-way through my fourth year at the school. I turned eighteen years old and was getting ready to graduate high school. Kay Mazzo (the director of SAB) called me in to a meeting about my future. This was right before audition season for professional companies started. Kay told me that Peter Martins (director of NYCB) and Nikolaj Hubbe had had a meeting about me. She continued to tell me that Nikolaj would be taking over the Royal Danish Ballet that August. (2008) And she informed me that Nikolaj had chosen one student, to bring with him back to Denmark. That was me.

Flower Festival

So that is how I ended up at the RDB. It was a shock. It was not my plan. But RDB has given me my dream come true and I couldn’t be more grateful for where I ended up having my professional career.

xoxo,
-Hol

How Do You Deal With Injuries?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Monday, February 10, 2020

Photo: Kasper Nybo

Thank you for the question, @sylle_

Gosh, how do you deal with injuries!? Whether an injury is taking off ballet for a few days or taking off for several months…years, it is never fun. It always feels like it is the worst timing. None of us want to miss out. None of us want to lose an opportunity. None of us want to not be able to dance, the thing that we love to do.

Photo: Ravn

Dealing with injury is a tough process but in order to survive it, we have to find an upside. Finding this upside will not come overnight. NO. NO. No. It will take you time.

I believe that there are several phases of injury that one has to go through.

Starting at the very beginning, Phase 1: Shock and Denial! “I’m fine. I’ll be fine,” you whisper to yourself as you limp home to watch Netflix’s on your couch. Yeah, sure… sure you’re fine. You aren’t fine at all.

Phase 2: Acceptance. Admitting that you are hurt IS scary. It has to be done, though. The quicker you get to this stage, the quicker you can start to heal. Your mind can finally calm down and stop having to repeat that made up story of how you aren’t really injured. One can stay in denial for months… just getting by…for months.

Phase 3: Depression. It will hit you hard and it will put you in a place that you never knew existed. A dark, dark place. Tears… so many tears. Anger will flare up from within you too. Depending on how you deal with this stage, will shape your return from your injury. I would say, feel that deep, black hole, feel the cold walls surrounding you, then… look up at the light. Look up to the surface and start swimming upwards to get out.

Photo: Kasper Nybo

Phase 4: Find the positive side. Suddenly, you have more free time then you know what to do with. Instead of watching TV all day (yes we’ve all given in to those lazy days of watching nonsense TV when injured) I would recommend to take this time to work on having a more, well rounded life.

We put so much focus, energy and hard work in to our ballet that we easily forget that there are a million things happening in the world everyday. Exciting things.

Try something new! Dare to be a beginner at something again. Have that coffee with a friend that you never really had the time to get to know. Educate yourself. Explore what you might be interested in. Could be learning more about the human body or learning a new language or learning about art history. Sky’s the limit! Explore your own city. Find local spots that you’ve never been too.

Phase 5: Starting your way back to ballet. When you are able to start moving again, you’ll be so grateful to have survived all the previous phases. Your love for ballet will have grown even bigger. And believe it or not you will have learned a lot. Hold your horses a little bit though. Try not to rush back. Listen to your advisors including physical therapists and doctors but also listen to yourself. Only you can feel what is going on in your body. I’m a believer of listening to that gut feeling.

Photo: Kasper Nybo

Phase 6: Expect at least one set back. I’ve seen it, time and time again. Someone has recovered from their injury, everyone is so excited to have them back in the studio but their work load just increased quite suddenly. That injury will get a little mad at you for asking so much of it, all of a sudden. Be smart. You are so close to doing what you love but you must remain careful and not push too hard. You are risking setting yourself even further back. And there is no way you are ready to be back at phase 1 emotionally.

If you are injured or know someone who is injured, I’m so sorry that you got hurt. I would never wish an injury upon another human being but especially never upon a dancer. It kills us. Our insides just die. I wish you a speedy and healthy recovery. I hope that you get back even stronger then when you were forced to stop.

xoxo
-Hol

What Is the Summer Ballet 101?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Monday, February 3, 2020

Thank you for the question, Elena Kelly

Every year, Nikolaj Hubbe takes a small group from the Royal Danish Ballet, around 10-12 dancers, to perform on outdoor stages around the countryside of Denmark. Nikolaj Hubbe chooses what the dancers will dance and who will perform. The show is around 1 hour and fifteen minutes long and consists of classic pas de deuxs, & modern pieces from the current season or the upcoming season. Usually the show finishes with a group piece such as Pas de Six from Napoli or Pas de Sept from A Folk Tale.

White Swan with ulrik Birkkjær.

If the summer ballet tour takes place during our contracted season then it is mandatory to go but some years the summer ballet tour takes place outside of the Royal Danish Ballet’s season and then it is a paid tour and optional to go. (but who wouldn’t want to go!)

I’ve always loved dancing in the summer ballet tour! Before I was a part of it, I set it out as a goal! I thought it looked like so much fun. Typically, the principal dancers go, some soloists and possibly an up and coming corps de ballet member or two depending on the repertoire.

Coppelia.

It is a privilege to be asked by Nikolaj Hubbe to represent the RDB to the rest of the country. We love what we do and we love where we do it, so it is always a huge honor. The tour takes us to different cities every year, allowing us to explore Denmark in a way that we probably wouldn’t be exposed too otherwise. You fall in love with Denmark not just Copenhagen.

We have been to many cool locations to perform. Sometimes in font of old, historical castles or in large, blooming gardens or in a farmers backyard with sheep running by! Once we performed in front of an old prison… My favorite spot was several years ago in Funen. It was just so beautiful!

Etudes Sylph Section in Funen.

Summer ballet is especially fun because of the time you get to spend with your colleagues. There are many dinners and bus rides all together, so naturally a lot of jokes, great talks and lots and lots of laughs! All while we do what we love to do. It’s the dream!

The only time that summer ballet isn’t so fun is when the weather begins to drizzle, the temperature drops and now you are COLD. That is not the ideal condition to be in to perform difficult, high demanding pas de deuxs. Such as Black Swan pas de deux, or Grand Pas Classique…etc. Nikolaj always casts a pretty challenging program, full of difficult pieces. So when it is cold, as the Danish summer always has at least a few cold days, it is actually dangerous for us. Our muscles are frozen and that tutu isn’t exactly helping us to keep warm against the wind and other natural elements. When your muscles are cold, an injury is truly just one wrong twist, or one wrong step away. And to get injured, for us, is like death.

When the weather downpours, the show gets cancelled. Disappointing for all involved, including the audience that so kindly showed up, but understandable. The group usually goes to have dinner somewhere and then we try again the next day.

Diamonds Pas with Ulrik Birkkjær.

We do have a few tricks to help us stay warm on those more challenging days. We have skin colored leg warmers that we can wear and long underwear we can put on. If the temperature is ridiculous then we will shorten the program. Instead of each couple doing a pas, male solo, female solo and coda. We will cut each couple to only dancing the pas. That way we can still give the crowd a show, while lowering the injury risk for us.

We do all that we can to help ourselves recover and be ready for the next day, as a ten day tour with one day off is demanding on our bodies. It is common to see us traveling around with our compression socks constantly on, back warmers on, and a roller under our arm so we can roll out our muscles. Anything to help our bodies recover faster to be ready for the show the next day.

Pas de Sept

There will be a summer ballet tour this year from June 8th-June 17th. The specific cities have not been announced yet. The casting has gone up though, so I’m very happy to announce that I will be joining this years tour. I’ll be dancing, “That’s Life” from Come Fly Away and Napoli Pas de Six! I hope we come to a city near YOU!

Summer Ballet Tour

xoxo,
-Hol

What Was It Like Working With Merrill Ashley?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Monday, January 27, 2020

Thank you for the question @andreeaunicorn

Working with the legend, Merrill Ashley, was everything and more a dancer can wish for during a rehearsal period! She is AMAZING!

Studio Time with Merrill Ashley. Working with Jonathan Chmelensky and myself on the Pas De Deux

When I saw Merrill in the hallway of the Royal Danish Ballet for the first time, I ran up to her, gave her a big hug and I started crying. I was THAT excited! Absolutely, a complete, 100% fan girl moment. I knew ever since my boss, Nikolaj Hubbe, announced that she was coming to set Ballo Della Regina on us that she would be the highlight of the season!

Merrill Ashley working with George Balanchine in the New York City Ballet.

I trained in NYC at the School of American Ballet which is the ballet school that feeds in to the New York City Ballet, aka Balanchine’s company. So of course, I’ve grown up knowing exactly who Merrill Ashley is. She is someone I’ve admired greatly for a long time. Living Balanchine royalty. I also read her book when I was a teenager, Dancing For Balanchine, (I recommend it if you have not read it, to take a look) and as I read it, I kept nodding my head in agreement to the words on the page. Her opinions and views on things struck home when I could recognize the same thoughts from within myself.

Merrill and I working on a bit of the Sugar Plum Variation.
Merrill was so kind to come and watch my stage call and share her thoughts with me, even though she had just arrived from the USA and was most likely very jet lagged!

You could feel from day one in the studio with Merrill, that her goal for every dancer in the room, was bigger than just getting the ballet on and up to par. Merrill wanted to help you improve to be a better all around dancer. That is an exciting energy to feel from your coach. When you are already working hard, and then feel that energy coming from her, it just makes you want to work ten times harder. To soak up every second, every word of wisdom she has.

Studio Time with Merrill Ashley.

Under her eye, we explored every step in Ballo Della Regina. We spent six weeks, for five days a week with extended rehearsals everyday, to work on Ballo. This process came at our busiest time of the year which is of course, The Nutcracker season. So yes, some days were long. Some days we were more tired than others. Some days we wouldn’t even leave the theater until after the evening’s performance. We’d go straight from Ballo rehearsals to getting ready for the Sugar Plum Fairy or Cavalier. We were working very intensely but it was without a doubt, the best rehearsal process I’ve ever had. (Powerade did become a must have) 😉

Merrill doing the pas de deux with me, when my partner was busy in a different rehearsal.

I defiantly didn’t want to disappoint Merrill or let her down in any way but she made the atmosphere so nice and supportive that I was able to forget that I was dancing in front of one of the ballerina’s I admire and idolize the most in the world. The fear and intimidation vanished. There was room for jokes and stories! Oh the stories! To hear about Balanchine and that epic period of time she danced in was 100% ballet heaven. Everyday, I looked so much forward to going to work. I was completely inspired by her.

On stage rehearsal in the Raymonda Sets.

There is truly nothing more rewarding than to feel that you are improving as a dancer with your coach. My time with Merrill was a gift. I know in 5-10-20 years, I’ll still be talking about how lucky I was to get to work with Merrill Ashley!

xoxo
-Hol

Back stage after the premiere with Merrill Ashley and Stacy Caddell.
Bows at the premiere on January 12th, 2020 at the Royal Danish Ballet.

Which Are Your Favorite Costumes?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Friday, January 17, 2020

Photo: With Ulrik Birkkjær. Diamonds

Thank you for the question, @elisabethbjornholst


Costumes!! So many beautiful costumes! We are so lucky at the Royal Danish Ballet to have a super talented costume department that makes THE most incredible costumes! I’m absolutely blown away by what I get to wear on stage. They are amazing!

I am 100% a tutu person. I love all tutu’s! To be extremely specific, my favorite costumes are the tutu’s that are considered to be “small”. For example, the tutu I wore for Theme & Variations or for Diamonds.

Photo: NYC Dance Project. Theme & Variations Tutu

The tutus used for more of the classical ballets such as Swan Lake or Sleeping Beauty, or Raymonda are also very beautiful but they can be quite large! The smaller tutus just feel like they fit the best.

Photo: With Ulrik Birkkjær. Swan Queen (Odette) Tutu

Here are some of my favorite tutu’s!!

Diamonds Tutu
Photo: With Gregory Dean. Gamzatti Tutu.
Black Swan Tutu
Photo: With Jonathan Chmelensky. Princess Florine Tutu
Photo: With Sebastian Haynes. Coppelia Tutu
Photo: With Jon Axel. Sugar Plum Fairy Tutu.
Photo: With Jonathan Chmelensky
Raymonda Tutu.

My other favorite type of costume is a leotard with a flowy skirt. For example, Ballo Della Regina or T. Pas.

Photo: With Jonathan Chmelensky. Ballo Della Regina.

I’m a fan of dancing in a tight fitting costume that doesn’t get in my way. 😉 Here are some of my favorite flowy dresses.

Photo: With Marcin Kupinski. T. Pas
Photo: With Magnus Christoffersen. Schubert Pas De Deux
Dew Drop.
Teresina Second Act

Soon (April 2020!!) in Come Fly Away, I will get to wear the costume below and I’m positive that it will be going on my favorite costume list! I mean look at those sparkles!!

Kate Costume.

Xoxo,
-Hol

Is It Hard To Be A Ballet Dancer?

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By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Monday, January 13, 2020

Thank you for the question, @frederikke.schmidt

The quick answer is yes. Yes, it is hard work to be a ballet dancer! BUT if you love it, love it with your heart and soul, then it is worth every second of pain, every sacrifice, every drop of sweat and every tear.

Photo: Morten Eggert

As a ballet dancer, you don’t do it for the money. You don’t do it if you are lazy. And you don’t do it if you don’t have a passion for dance. It’s too hard.

We spend hours upon hours trying to push our bodies to the extreme. We have constant body pressure to look a certain way. Long days. A six day work week. (Sometimes seven days, like last week 😉 )Vacations always include an element to stay in shape. We are more in our leotards then in street clothes. We are at the theater more then we are at home. It can be difficult to make friends outside of the theater because of our demanding and weird schedule. Friday nights are not to party. Friday nights are to recover because you most likely have a show the next day.

The hardest part is to stay strong mentally. When you are working so hard physically, it wears you down and you know the saying, “Life Isn’t Fair…” well ain’t that the truth. Things will happen, out of your control that will hurt you, and they most likely will never be explained. You have to stay focused. You have to continue working. And that is wayyy easier said than done.

Photo: Ravn

You need to fall in love with the training. Fall in love with rehearsing and fall in love with performing. Then you no longer see the work as hard. You see it as a part of “you.” It is just what you do. The reward you get for dedicating your life and working so hard, is in my opinion, absolutely worth it. I love being a ballet dancer. And I love working hard to be a ballet dancer.

Xoxo
-Holly