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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!