How It's Done: Sunny & Bright

Inside the female variation from "The Flower Festival in Genzano": Advice from Royal Danish Ballet principal Gudrun Bojesen.
Published in the October/November 2013 issue.

Gudrun Bojesen with Mads Blangstrup. Photo by David Amzallag.

1. The Bournonville Style
Port de Bras: Keep the arms low. “You can’t use them to get elevation in Bournonville. You have to pop up using your core strength.”
Hands:  The fingers are rounder than in the Russian style. “Always show a hand, not five fingers. It should look natural, without tension, as if you were saying hello.”
Focus: “During the first series of double ronds de jambe, look at the working foot. It’s a Bournonville trick: If I look at my leg, the audience’s eyes go to it, too.”

2. Your Partner
You’re not performing for the audience—you should be flirting with your partner. Even if you’re dancing the variation alone, imagine him standing downstage right. “I picture this couple as young, in love and walking in the forest. Everything is done with an eye to him. In the initial diagonal of brisés, your right hand is to him, and it’s like a game: When you change directions, you take the hand away.”

3. Prep Time
“Bournonville is harder on the calves than any other choreographer. Start preparing at least two months ahead to get used to it.” Bojesen recommends practicing fast, 45-degree double ronds de jambe en l’air at the barre as well as brisés in the center.

4. The Musicality
“Apart from the first diagonal, you’re never ahead of the music. Take the last possible note for every movement.”

5. The Pointe Shoes
Even if you typically prefer hard pointe shoes, wear a soft pair for this variation to make it easier to tackle the fast, nimble footwork.