If you love ballet, you must not miss the Royal Danish Ballet at Jacob’s Pillow. If you do not like ballet, you must not miss this week (June 20-24) at the Pillow — you might just fall in love with ballet.
The choreographers represented are Harold Lander, August Bournonville, Marius Petipa/Lev Ivanov and Jean Coralli/Jules Perrot. Excerpts of their dances are arranged in a suite that should not work but does.
The success is in part due to the exquisite dancing and warm personalities of the dancers. Simplicity rules. There are no sets. The lighting quietly supports the mood of each work, costumed beautifully.
Each dancer in the Royal Danish Ballet is remarkable. Each piece is exquisitely performed. The emotion inherent in each dance is projected without overacting. The performers relate to each other and to the audience joyfully. The company has impeccable technique but the dancing is not mechanical or dry. Extraordinary leaps, endless extensions, multiple turns and flexibility are delivered without ostentation. The bravado is not foisted upon us, but does elicit loud and frequent bravos.
All this is the result of the sensitive and insightful direction of Nikolaj Hübbe. My introduction to this company was when I was director of the Pillow. At that time, Nikolaj was a student in the ballet project. I am not telling tales out of turn (or maybe I am) when I say he was a spirted young man — read: a handful. His intensity has served him well as the director of this company. His individuality has invigorated this venerable institution.
I have to admit that I respected but was not enthusiastic about Bournonville technique. However, as presented by the Company this week, I have become a convert and want to return and experience another delicious evening. Given what has been going on in our country, this is a gift. In these incredibly heartless days, a moment of sheer delight is welcomed. Don’t miss it.
The Royal Danish Ballet performs in the Ted Shawn Theatre at Jacob’s Pillow, 358 George Carter Road, Becket, Massachusetts, through Sunday, June 24. For information and tickets, see the Berkshire Edge calendar, go online to jacobspillow.org or call the box office at (413) 243-0745.