Much of the talk around the dance blogosphere today is about Nikolaj Hubbe, a New York City Ballet principal dancer who will be retiring from the company this week to take on the role of director of the Royal Danish Ballet, the company where he first made it big.
Apprently there was an interview/q&a with him last night that I so sadly missed, but Philip and Tonya wrote quite a bit about it...
I thought it would be fitting to mention my memory of working with Nikolaj at BAE 2 years ago. For our Studio Showing he came to set parts of Bournonville's "Napoli" on us...and it was SO much fun!
(me in "Napoli")
First of all, that ballet is great. I had learned one of the little variations from it back at Rock a few years before, but the whole tarantella scene and everything that we did is so wonderful. The excerpts we did included this, a pas de six, and a few variations. Even though it's supposed to be the same six dancers who are featured in the tarantella, Nikolaj broke it up into sections so that each of the 20-some people in our version of it got a chance to shine. My part was with a kid who is now at PNB, and we were both kind of shy...apparently we were supposed to be the couple who were "married"...at one point Nikolaj wanted us to make eye contact or something and neither of us could do it and get the steps at the same time, so he stopped the whole rehearsal and did the combination with me alone, all the while laughing and yelling "look at me like you love me!"
It was his incredible energy, zest for movement, and charismatic humor that made working with him so memorable and fun. I know all of the other BAE dancers had many laughs during those rehearsals, and I think we'd all agree he was one of the best guest teachers we had! What an honor it was to work with him on a Bournonville piece, for which he is known and for which he will move on to with his directorship of Royal Danish Ballet.
I saw him last week in "Square Dance" and not only was I amazed by his dancing (of course) but I felt quite lucky to say that I had once been in a studio with him laughing and learning. I think that's the beauty of dancing in New York...getting those opportunities.
He will be missed by many when he retires on Sunday!