27 May 2007

La Sylphide: National Ballet School, Toronto

For the first time Spring Showcase consisted of a single classical work, La Sylphide in the 1836 version choreographed by August Bournonville — a challenge that senior students of the National Ballet School met with skill and enthusiasm. It was staged by Sorella Englund, formerly of the Royal Danish Ballet, who also took the cameo role of fortune teller sorceress, Madge. It was carried off at near professional level by the young cast with minimal accoutrements.

Englund's Madge, of course, seething with scheming resentment, was nonpareil and true in the role, as authentic as one could want. But the principal parts taken by students were equally accomplished and stylish. The corps de ballet in this classic white ballet, the essence of romanticism at mid-19th century, was expressively disciplined and beautiful with never a ragged or awkward line.

With five performances, the school had a new cast of student principals for each — I saw one. As the eponymus Sylph that night, faerie of air, Heather MacIsaac sweetly generated the mystery and mischief that moved the plot. But the evening’s star was Alexander Bozinoff as betrothed and enchanted farmer’s boy, James. His beautiful leaps and pirouettes in kilt, all lightness and elevation were pure examples of Bournonville style at its finest.

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