Denmark: Royal Danish Ballet

One of the world’s most distinguished ballet troupes, the Royal Danish Ballet stages repertoire in the Bournonville tradition that largely meets with critical acclaim. Yet in recent years the organisation and artistic director, Nikolaj Hübbe, have weathered a storm of budget cuts, union battles and even allegations of drug abuse. Administrative director Marianne Bennetzen tells IAM how she balances artistic experimentation with budget demands, and why she’s driving a change in RDB culture.

Making sure that the Royal Danish Ballet is an artistic pioneer, but is also cost-efficient, is one of our key duties. In these times of cutbacks, and in a market where our audience has lots of other artistic offerings available to them, that’s challenging. Our aim is to both secure our Bournonville tradition and innovate with new repertoire. We preserve our tradition but always in a meaningful way, for instance via work reimagined by modern choreographers. Nikolaj has created new versions of Bournonville’s A Folk Tale and Napoli, for instance, while Alexei Ratmansky choreographed his version of the old Russian folktale, The Golden Cockerel.

We’ve also launched some new cost-effective but creative initiatives where we present ballet in new formats for new audiences. Hübberiet is a talk show hosted by our artistic director that presents an extract from our repertoire, combined with different art forms – theatre, music, stand-up, discussion. There’s always a theme, for instance ‘Prejudices of Ballet’ and ‘Love’. There are normally three talk shows per season and they have been a huge success.

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