Shining like Emeralds

ALESSANDRO BIZZOTTO meets the two artists of the Royal Danish Ballet to talk about the debut of the company in Balanchine’s Jewels and above all, about the part that the three of them seem to prefer, glittering with green light

It is nearly 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon when I enter the Café August B. The weather is cloudy and quite cold in Copenhagen, even if April is about to end.
The Café, nestled in a corner of the foyer of the Royal Danish Theatre facing Kongens Nytorv, smells of coffee, sweet spices and pointe shoes – pictures on the walls recall the Danish ballet tradition, past and present, and its founder who gives his name to the location. It is both cozy and somehow stylish.
In four hours the Royal Danish Ballet will perform Balanchine’s Jewels for the third time. Less than a week after the opening night, I am here to meet company dancers Amy Watson and Jonathan Chmelensky to talk about this new, long-awaited entrant in the repertoire of the Royal Danish Ballet.
Chmelensky is already sitting at a table in front of a cappuccino. I order one as well, and we chat less than a couple of minutes. At 4:00 o’clock Watson punctually reaches the Café, wearing a black jacket. 

Photos: Amy Watson and Jonathan Chmelensky in 'Emeralds' © Costin Radu)

Tonight they will dance together as the first couple of Emeralds, the first of the three Jewels parts. They look both happy and relaxed.
A Principal dancer since 2007, Amy Watson is American. She now finds herself in Denmark, dancing the French act, Emeralds, of Balanchine’s masterpiece, bringing to life what is considered an evocation of France. «No pressure, right? No pressure!» she tells me smiling. «Maybe, if you had asked it five or ten years ago, I would have said ‘I think I should do Rubies’ but today I feel this is the place I am supposed to be. I actually studied under Violette Verdy, who created the first leading role in Emeralds, the one I am dancing. I am the only person in the company that worked with her. It was a gift from the Theatre – I was mentored by her. All by myself for ten days alone with her, in her house, in the middle of nowhere… She gave me the most incredible gift talking about her port de bras and the usage of the back. So I have had her in my ears the whole time preparing this role. It was not easy to approach, but I have learned so much from her and I love doing it! I absolutely love doing it».

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