Royal Opera House, Stockholm, Sweden; February 28, 2014
Marie Lindqvist’s departure from the Royal Swedish Ballet exemplified the precision timing and artistic exactitude that defined her career as one of Sweden’s greatest dancers: the perfect closure in the perfect role and the audience showed their gratitude in a tsunami of warmth.
Lindqvist trained at the Royal Theatre School and graduated from the Swedish Ballet School as it later became. She joined the company in 1988, was promoted to soloist in 1991, principal in 1993, and in 2004, to court dancer, the highest rank at the Opera. She has danced lead roles in practically every ballet in the repertoire and has worked with a wish list of the world’s top choreographers. Most recently she became the first female interpreter of Carabosse in Marcia Haydée’s “The Sleeping Beauty”. The role, created by Richard Cragun, demands a charismatic performer and Linqvist was able to deliver. She was a defining Odette/Odile and Giselle. She also excelled in modern classics, for example Titania in John Neumeier’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream”. She had the dramatic skill to cover an extraordinary range from Mary Vetsera in Kenneth MacMillan’s “Mayerling” to Pippi Longstocking in Pär Isberg’s ballet. To each she brought her brilliant technique, professionalism and quiet magnetism. Lindqvist herself was radiant to the last but there was much surreptitious mopping of moist eyes in the auditorium.
It is good to see “Onegin” back in the repertoire. Cranko’s dramatic structure is matchless and he tells the story in eloquent choreography. Each character is defined, creating a handful of the most coveted roles in the ballet repertoire. The ensemble work, too, is challenging giving the corps quality dance to build their classical standards.
Cranko’s coup de theatre is the mirror sequence offering a pas de deux that soars and sweeps as Tatiana dances with the man of her imagining. The high drama of the second act leads to equally dramatic third act and Lindqvist went from strength to strength, leading to a climax that had every nerve quivering with emotion.
Lindqvist’s Tatiana develops from a fragile young girl living in a world of romantic novels; defenceless against the enigmatic Onegin. Dragos Mihalcea’s saturnine looks make him the consummate Onegin. He suggests so well the fatal magnetism that attracts Tatiana like a moth to the flame and their pas de deux, each varied in emotional colour and intensity, drew heightened poignancy from the partnership.
The supporting players, Olga (Natalie Nordquist), Lensky (Dawid Kupinski) and Gremin (Andrey Leonovitch) all created convincing characters but were technically less certain. Leonovitch fared best, providing Tatiana with an emotional haven and equally secure partnering. Nordquist had naivity and youthful charm in abundance but a generally sound performance was marred by moments of surprising unsteadiness. Lensky is a role that demands technique in prime condition, especially in that fiendish act one solo that needs such carefree delivery, and Kupinski was sadly not on form that night. But the heart of the ballet is the central couple and it was Lindqvist particularly who made the evening so special. She will continue to work with the company in the role of coach but her performances will be sorely missed by her many fans.
This season also sees the departure of long standing principal and court dancer, Jan-Erik Wikström who formed a memorable partnership with Lindqvist. Graduating within a year of each other they danced together in many of the great classics. Wikström gave many guest appearances abroad and worked with the English National Ballet from 2001 -2004. Olof Westring sadly also bows out this season after many years as a principal dancer.