Afsked(2003) Zenaida Yanowsky and Dylan Elmore @Johann Persson

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Premiere date

17 September 2003 at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank Centre

Creative team

Commisioned by

Johan Kobborg | QEH


Kim Brandstrup



String Quartet in D opus 6 No 1


Simon Bennison


Zenaida Yanowsky
Dylan Elmore


Out of Denmark
Queen Elizbeth Hall , September 2003

Programme notes

Dedicated to Nina Fonaroff (1914 – 2003)

Afsked translated into English means to depart, saying goodbye, taking leave. The duet takes place during the last moments of lingering and delaying after both parties have mutually decided to part.

Reviews extracts

“Easily the hit of the show… Brandstrup’s duet portrays the last moments before two lovers part”

Sarah Frater. Evening Standard

“A beautifully nuanced duet by Kim Brandstrup about a tortured end-of-the-affair. Zenaida Yanowsky with her timeless, icon-like face knows supremely how to make her body do the work for her."”

Jenny Gilbert, The Independent on Sunday

"Yanowsky generated a surge of sympathy in Brandstrup’s new Afsked pas de deux, with Dylan Elmore as her partner. The painful parting focuses on the woman’s feelings, longing for the support she knows she must reject. Brandstrup shows how revealing dance can be. His pas de deux has no more need of words than Schubert’s Winterreise needs choreography; we understand without the meaning being expounded. Brandstrup is unusual as a contemporary dance-maker in wanting to explore profound emotions. Although he hasn’t always taken the audience with him in longer works, Afsked (Danish for departure) is a triumph."

Jann Parry, The Observer

The heart and soul of the evening came either side of the first interval. Firstly, in the astonishingly good world première of Kim Brandstrup’s ‘Afsked’.

Graham Watts Ballet Magazine

"Cheers, though, for Kim Brandstrup’s brand-new duet, Afsked, in which the glorious Zenaida Yanowsky parts with the most voluptuous grief from her lover Dylan Elmore. Romance, Brandstrup shows, in some richly fluid and exciting writing, is just as achievable in a modern idiom as in ballet."

Ismene Brown, The Daily Telegraph

"Brandstrup’s intriguing and astringent Afsked, a melancholy farewell dialogue for the Royal Ballet’s Zenaida Yanowsky partnered by the accomplished and expressive Dylan Elmore. Yanowsky, like a great fashion model, has the ability to make whatever movement she wears looks stylish and interesting. It was an extremely moving performance and was thunderously well received by the capacity audience, a welcome and necessary antidote to the relentlessly perky pieces that had preceded it."

Louise Levene, The Sunday Telegraph

"Kim Brandstrup made everything of [the Queen Elizabeth Hall] difficulties this year with his Hamlet, and in a new piece for Kobborg’s season, he has again done splendidly well. Afsked is an emotionally fraught duet which studies those moments when two lovers separate. Set to a quartet movement by Boccherini, danced with passionate understanding by the tremendous Zenaida Yanowsky and Dylan Elmore (a fine dancer, new to me), this novelty deserves continued stage-life."

Clement Crisp, Financial Times

"Modern dance maker, Kim Brandstrup walked away with the first half with Afsked for Yanowsky and Dylan Elmore. Black costumes on a black stage lit by occasional bleak white lamps perfectly suited the minimalist stage. Brandstrup’s dance language has seldom been more articulate than when capturing this beautifully phrased movement between a man and a woman, when saying goodbye lasts a lifetime."

Jeffrey Taylor, The Sunday Express

"Far more satisfying is Brandstrup’s world premiere, Afsked, with music by Boccherini and outstanding performances by Zenaida Yanowsky and Dylan Elmore. A highly watchable duet that takes place at the moment of a reluctant parting, it overflows with regret, anger, sorrow and frustration. Yanowsky and Elmore are dignified and passionate in their mantle of seesawing emotions."

Debra Crane, The Times

"Kim Brandstrup’s Afsked, a duet for Zenaida Yanowsky and Dylan Elmore, was commissioned for this programme. A couple are ready to separate but can’t quite let go. She turns her back, he rushes after to catch, support or stop her. Brandstrup can be a timid choreographer, and I hadn’t hoped for much but this bleakly sad duet is the best work I’ve seen from him."

Zoe Anderson, The Independent