Ruth Leon recommends… Hedda Gabler – Norwegian National Ballet

Ruth Leon recommends… Hedda Gabler – Norwegian National Ballet


norman lebrecht

November 10, 2021

Hedda Gabler – Norwegian National Ballet
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Here’s a fascinating and unusual ballet which, unless you are Norwegian, you are unlikely to have seen before. Choreographer Marit Moum Aune and composer Nils Petter Molvaer have made a ballet based on Henrik Ibsen’s play. It contains nudity. I only mention this because, although it is totally appropriate in terms of its place in the drama, some people are offended by it. In this case, the choreography cleverly shows how Hedda’s well-meaning husband, Tesler, focused on his books, doesn’t even notice his new wife trying to interest him in her naked body.

The choreography clearly displays both her boredom, and his incomprehension. We soon see how her boredom turns to spite and malice, and finally to revulsion with those around her, as she attempts to interest others but ultimately rejects them all as not being worthy of her attention, of not measuring up to her authoritarian father. The music of Hedda Gabler is insistent and repetitious but the choreography is innovative and beautifully danced, psychologically in keeping with Ibsen’s characters and dramatic intention.
I am particularly intrigued with the choreographer’s use of children to show the development of Hedda through her early life.

This is a ballet of acute subtlety and invention. In Grete Sofie Borud Nybakken the choreographer has a Hedda of extreme theatrical capabilities along with technical ballet technique to burn, and the emotional depth to express all of Hedda’s complicated moods. Each of her four male partners – Philip Hurrell as Tesler, her husband, Silas Henriksen as the tragic Eilert Løvborg, Shane Urton as Judge Brack and above all, Kristian Alm, as her father, the defining influence in her life, plays his part in the final inevitable act of self-inflicted violence.

The Norwegian National Ballet’s Hedda Gabler is a fine piece of work, an important addition to the repertoire, and worth the attention of any ballet lover.

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