Edvard Helsted, Holger Simon Paulli
August Bournonville. Originally staged by Stanley Williams. Staged by Nilas
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One of the few ballets in our repertory by the Danish master choreographer August Bournonville, Bournonville Divertissements provides a parade of principal roles and a cascade of nimble footwork.
August Bournonville (1805-1879) was an inveterate traveler who incorporated into his ballets national themes and styles of dancing from cultures as diverse as those of Sweden, Norway, Italy, Spain, France, Belgium and Russia. The common thread in all of his works, however, is that they were all choreographed at The Royal Theater in Copenhagen, for The Royal Danish Ballet.
"One might perhaps be tempted to regard me as Cosmopolitan but in this one would be completely mistaken, for although my father was French and my mother Swedish, I am, despite my Franco-Swedish sympathies, Danish in heart and soul, through and through ... The Danish flag ... causes my heart to thrill with excitement ... I am above all Danish."
George Balanchine, who worked in Copenhagen in 1929 as a guest ballet master for the Royal Danish Ballet, was a huge admirer of Bournonville’s work and once said, “You know what made Bournonville great? He entertained with steps.”
In 1977 Balanchine asked the great ballet teacher Stanley Williams to create a series of excerpts from some of Bournonville’s most beloved works for the dancers of the New York City Ballet. Williams had been a principal dancer with the Royal Danish Ballet before joining the faculty of the School of American Ballet in 1964 at Balanchine’s invitation. The 2015 production of Bournonville Divertissements features excerpts from Napoli, Flower Festival in Genzano, and Abdallah (1855).
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