Nikiya’s forbidden love is taken to a whole different level in the Royal Danish Ballet’s new production of La Bayadère. At the Guggenheim’s Works and Process showing, artistic director Nikolaj Hubbe spoke about RDB’s restaging, and his dancers performed excerpts wearing costumes by Richard Hudson (who also designed costumes for The Lion King).
RDB’s version, choreographed by Hubbe and Eva Draw after Petipa, takes place during the British occupation of India, and some of the major roles have new names and ethnicities: Solor is now a British lieutenant named Sir William, Gamzatti becomes Lady Emma and the Raja is the Viceroy. In the Pas d’ Action in Act II, the choreographers added a solo for Sir William (Solor) and incorporate children from the RDB school to dance a Peacock mating dance (originally the Parrot dance). But the Kingdom of the Shades? Too iconic to mess with. “The first arabesque and its repetition signify the clarity and aesthetic value of hard core classical ballet. It is staggeringly beautiful cause it is so simple,” explained Hubbe. The fourth act with the revenge of the gods and the destruction of the temple is eliminated, but the Bronze Idol variation remains—except, the idol is now blue and called The Blue God. According to Hubbe, the restyling of the role is his salute to Nijinsky, and Hudson also noted that the change adheres more to the god Shiva in Indian culture who is also blue.
Watch the event for yourself here. The full ballet will premiere on November 10 in Copenhagen.