HCA NEWS International focus on Hans Christian Andersen

"Living a Fairy Tale" - major feature on the 2005 Hans Christian Andersen bicentenary in Newsweek. The performances "Hans Christian Andersen - The Anatomy of a Storyteller" and "Ikumankanikazi ye Khephu" thrills London and New York. Penguin UK launches a new edition of Hans Christian Andersen's fairytales in the English-speaking world.

By on - H.C. Andersen 2005 - 24 November 2004

The 2005 Hans Christian Andersen bicentenary yields growing international media coverage now that the results of several years of preparation prior to the bicentenary celebrations are becoming more apparent.
Most recently, the internationally acclaimed magazine Newsweek International devoted two pages to a feature entitled "Living a Fairy Tale" on the upcoming Hans Christian Andersen bicentenary. The article emphasises the many new interpretations of the storyteller as a more enigmatic and complex character than the image commonly held.

Several countries have jumped the gun on the 2005 Hans Christian Andersen bicentenary by launching festivals that feature inventive and ambitious artistic performances which pay tribute to the storyteller and seek to unveil the many hidden facets of his life and work.

The British contribution to the Hans Christian Andersen bicentenary was presented on 15 September 2004 at a press launch hosted at the British Library and attended by HRH Crown Prince Frederik and HRH Crown Princes Mary of Denmark. Since then, the performance by the Arc Dance Company entitled "Hans Christian Andersen - The Anatomy of a Storyteller" has achieved great critical acclaim from leading UK newspapers. The performance was a box office hit at the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden where it played from 3 to 6 November. The performance will be staged in Denmark in 2005 at the Royal Danish Theatre from 23 to 27 August.

The modern dance performance "Hans Christian Andersen - The Anatomy of a Storyteller" has been created by the Anglo-Danish choreographer Kim Brandstrup and is based on three of Hans Christian Andersen's fairytales, which according to the choreographer best portray the private as well as public life of the storyteller, namely "The Shadow", "The Little Mermaid", and "The Snow Queen". The performance is set in a virtual landscape of textual and rhythmic transformation represented by a series of projections of animated characters created by the acclaimed filmmakers The Quay Brothers. Read excerpts of the enthusiastic British reviews below.

Public awareness of the authorship of Hans Christian Andersen will no doubt be further enhanced by the new edition of Hans Christian Andersen's fairytales that has just been published by Penguin in Britain. The book of fairytales will be published throughout the English-speaking world in collaboration with the Hans Christian Andersen 2005 Foundation. A hardcover version is to precede the pocket book version issued in the Penguin classics series, popular among millions of readers worldwide. The scholar and Hans Christian Andersen Ambassador Jackie Wullschlager has selected the 30 fairytales featured in the book, which have been retranslated by Tina Nunnally. The new translations are to help keep the magic world of Hans Christian Andersen alive for a whole new generation. Penguin is furthermore to publish a US edition.
The Guardian welcomed the new edition of Andersen's tales with the following: - Next year is the bicentenary of Andersen's birth, and his native Denmark will marshal an enthusiastic programme of celebrations. Here in Britain, a smart new translation from Penguin, with an extensive biographical introduction, is truly scrumptious, a proper treasury - weighty, cloth-covered, and illustrated by Andersen's own naive paper cuts. These peculiar blobby silhouettes will surely provoke breathless imaginations? Read on with eyes big as teacups.     

New York is in a frenzy over Hans Christian Andersen and the South African theatre group Dimpho Di Kopane, which has just launched a modern South African rendition of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen", entitled "Ikumankanikazi ye Khephu". The performance is staged at the monumental New York cathedral St. John the Divine and is set to traditional South African Xhosa music. Critics are over the hill with the imaginative interpretation of a world classic by the South African group. On 14 November, a New York Times headline ran "New York critics go gaga over SA Group".

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Excerpts from British reviews of "Hans Christian Andersen - The Anatomy of a Storyteller":

The Guardian - a masterly act..... Brandstrup is a gifted storyteller and he sketches the tale with rapid wit...... and the nine dancers could hardly be bettered.

The Times - As Andersen, Gildas Diquero combines gawky, nervous fluidity with mimetic articulation. Almost melting in self-deprecation, he flinches from the very human contact that he craves...... Brandstrup has a fine supporting cast: Matthew Hart, Cathy Marston, Bernadette Iglich, Fredrik Persson, Clemmie Sveaas, Jenny Tattersall and long-time Arc artists Kenneth Tharp and Joy Constantinides. All are dab hands at negotiating Brandstrup's writing and use of body language.

The Spectator - Beautifully performed by artists such as Cathy Marston, Matthew Hart, Kenneth Tharp, Jenny Tattersall and Gildas Diquero as well as the rest of Arc Dance Company, Brandstrup's latest creation stands out of it rarefied atmospheres and Hoffmanesque imagery.

The Financial Times - To make a staging for the bicentenary of Hans Christian Andersen's birth, who better than Kim Brandstrup? Danish-born, a choreographer with a fine and allusive sense of narrative, an artist sensitive to historical period, he has produced a remarkable work of commemoration. ..... to Brandstrup and his team and to the Linbury for providing so fine a setting, admiration and thanks. This production is among the best - because so stylish - things that Covent Garden show us.

The Metro - Brandstrup expertly guides us through highlights from Andersen's back catalogue, including an imaginative take on the famed Mermaid. Gildas Diquero turns in an excellent performance as the author. His is a standout turn among a uniformly excellent cast, all perfectly attuned to Brandstrup's lyrical line in narrative dance making.

The Independent on Sunday - Atmosphere is everything in Brandstrup's work and there are extended moments in Anatomy of a Storyteller when I couldn't imagine anything more powerful or more beautiful.