Pupils and students in Dutch National Ballet’s productions of Giselle and Raymonda

'Raymonda', photo: Marc Haegeman

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This year, too, our pupils and students are once again regularly participating in productions by Dutch National Ballet. In recent weeks, pre-NBA pupils have been performing the children’s roles in Giselle, while the female students of AD 2 danced in the ballet as peasant girls and wilis and the male AD 2 students performed various walk-on roles. The production, created by Rachel Beaujean and Ricardo Bustamante, was also filmed, and will be screened in cinemas worldwide in January. For this cinema version, the main roles of Giselle and Count Albrecht were danced by principals Olga Smirnova and Jacopo Tissi, and no fewer than three of our students will appear as wilis in the film.

In December and on 1 January, our pupils and students can also be seen in Beaujean’s new, widely acclaimed production of Raymonda. The AD 1 students will appear as courtiers and in the vision scene, and take part in various character dances, while the NBA 2 pupils will appear as butterflies in the vision scene.

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Elin Borgman:
‘The more often I dance Giselle, the more details I discover in the choreography’

AD 2 student Elin Borgman says she’s been incredibly lucky. Like many of her female classmates, the eighteen-year-old was second cast for the peasant girls (act one) and the wilis (act two) in Giselle. But the dancer Elin was understudying for the wilis went off after the first night, so that Elin got to dance seventeen performances as a wili, besides regular appearances as a peasant girl. “That was really unexpected”, she says. “There was hardly any rehearsal time for the second cast wilis, so we weren’t sure if we’d get on stage at all, and then suddenly there you are, night after night.”

‘You really feel the emotion’
Elin had already danced as a young pupil in The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, in Ted Brandsen’s Mata Hari (both NBA 1) and in Swan Lake (NBA 4), and last year she also danced the czardas in Swan Lake, but she never had such important roles as now, in Giselle. “It’s such a wonderful production”, she says. “The more often I dance in the performance, the more special little details I discover in the choreography. Of course, the second act is not very realistic (the wilis are the spirits of girls who have died before their wedding day – ed.), but the first act most definitely is. Even as a corps de ballet dancer, you really feel the emotion of Giselle when she finds out she’s been deceived by Albrecht.”

Elin feels privileged in any case just to be able to stand on stage among all those amazing dancers of Dutch National Ballet and see from up close what goes on behind the scenes in a big ballet company. “Although at the same time it’s pretty tiring to dance so many performances. After a series of Giselle in Amsterdam, we then took the production on tour all over the country, which meant very long days, while I’m also very busy at the moment making my audition videos.”

And yes, taking part in Giselle – and soon being seen in the production in cinemas all over the world – has further fuelled her dream of dancing full-time with Dutch National Ballet. But Elin wants to be realistic as well. “Now the artistic staff of the company at least have an idea of who I am and what I can do”, she laughs, “but it’s never good to put all your eggs in one basket. Then you only run more risk of being disappointed.”

'Giselle' second act, middle: Elin Brogman

Elin Borgman, photo: Altin Kaftira