Feet tapped along the aisle during the Royal Danish Ballet's productions of August Bournonville's "Kermesse in Bruges" and "Napoli, Act 3" yesterday at the Kennedy Center. At the conclusion of Washington's first all-Bournonville week even those fans who came expecting to be stunned by superhuman feats were catching on: The Danes make you leave the theater itching to dance.
"Kermesse" shows Bournonville in an anti-establishment mood. With still other dancers in certain roles for yesterday afternoon's and evening's repeat performances of the work, the Danish school's freedom within limits permitted alternate facets to be added to the foibles of the ballet's so-human characters. Sara, the Alchemist's housekeeper, is a tiny role, but Solveig Ostergaard made her a bundle bursting with energy, efficiency and good will. She was a striking contrast to Niels Bjorn Larsen's Alchemist, whereas Nina Herlov, cast as the housekeeper earlier in the week, complemented his pride with restraint. Tage Wendt, as butler to a lady who is elegance personified even at an execution--Kirsten Simone's magnificent portrayal--was a dour, doddering foil instead of the vain hyperbole of the lady's state in the manner of his predecessor in the part, the inimitable Fredbjorn Bjornsson.
Ib Jeppesen, in his debut last night here as the youngest of the three brothers in "Kermesse," made the lad seem like a real member of this rollicking clan. Jeppesen's beats are vigorous, his jumps incredibly high, wide and easy. He doesn't have the remarkable clarity of Bjarne Hecht, who was in the role on all previous occasions here. Benedikte Paaske, livelier as Eleonora with every performance, danced "Kermesse" twice yesterday--replacing Lis Jeppesen in the evening. Jeppesen had seemed sluggish in the matinee "Napoli, Act 3" and Paaske took her variation. Henning Kronstam, the company's director, said Jeppesen was running a high fever.
Saturday night, Michael Schonwandt conducted his first "Folk Tale" anywhere. He paced the score so fast that every moment seemed danced, but there wasn't always time for all details of the mime.