Giselle

Birmingham Royal Ballet

Birmingham Hippodrome

*****

Ethereal and statuesque in white shimmering gowns, rows of ballerinas line up, balancing in complete control, amidst the mist, Gothic church ruins and gravestones, while the ghost of Giselle gracefully dances into the hearts of everyone in the audience.

Some scenes are just so hauntingly beautiful that the image stays with you long after you have left the theatre.

This David Bintley and Galina Samsova production of Giselle is making a welcome return. Once again, Birmingham Royal Ballet's choreography, set, costumes and dancers all align to create dark yet dreamy, memorable moments on stage.

The heart-wrenching tale features two acts of stark contrast. The first sees our heroine, village girl Giselle (a wonderfully sprightly Jenna Roberts - pictured above), in love while tootling around a sunny Rhineland idyll, where a waterfall flows on the hill, flowers are in bloom and all is right with the world.

Bouncing through steps with her amour, the villagers also add to the happy mood, celebrating the end of the grape harvest in their folk dresses. A harvest pas de deux from Momoko Hirata and Tzu-Chao Chou makes for a delightful interlude from the extremely watchable pair.

However, a change in mood is never far away and the lovers' happiness is threatened by the arrival of a hunting party, which leads to the revelation that Giselle's love is actually Count Albrecht in disguise and he is already engaged to a noble lady.

The devastating news causes Giselle to go mad and kill herself in despair.

AVENGING SPIRITS

It is during a marvellous, eerie second act, at Giselle's graveside, that the remorseful count must face his own demons along with those of the avenging spirits - with the help of Giselle's ghost.

This second act is particularly mesmerising with ghostly ballerinas gliding (and even flying) under arches of a ruin.

Jenna Roberts making her debut as Giselle, is a real find, and the partnership between her and talented crowd-favourite Iain Mackay, (Count Albrecht) is superb. The chemistry makes for a wondrous, gentle and sentimental pas de deux. 

Giselle is one of the most performed romantic ballets, but this production first performed in Birmingham in 1999, with its Gothic undercurrent and underlying menace still has that striking presence that gives it the edge. An absolute delight. To 22-06-13

Alison Brinkworth

And pars de deux in the corner

*****

THIS beautiful ballet is a matter of life and death, dealing with love and deceit, tragedy, and ending with ghostly scenes in the ruins of a great church.

Bursting with colour and joy in the first act, it tells the story of how peasant girl Giselle falls for a handsome young man she believes is a villager, but in truth he is Count Albrecht, already betrothed to a Duke's daughter, Bathilde (Celine Gittens) who arrives on stage riding a magnificent white horse.

Jenna Roberts is a delight as Giselle, dancing superbly in the village scenes with the man she knows as Loys, and she gives a totally convincing performance in the scene where she takes her own life on discovering the truth about her lover.

Later Roberts simply glides majestically across stage as she appears from her grave to dance with the so-called Wilis - ghosts of young girls who have died after being jilted, and avenge themselves by dancing to death any man they encounter during the night.

Inevitably Count Albrecht, full of remorse, arrives by moonlight and Iain Mackay earns regular burst of applause for the quality and athleticism of his dancing, as he proves the perfect partner for Giselle.

There is also an outstanding harvest pas de deux featuring the stunning Momoko Hirata and Tzu-Chao Chou, while other impressive contributions come from Tyrone Singleton (Hilarion, the forester devoted to Giselle), Samara Downs (Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis) and Marion Tait (Berthe, Giselle's suspicious mother).

And the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, conducted by Koen Kessels, excel with Adolphe Adams' hauntingly effective music.

Produced by Galina Samsova and David Bintley, Giselle runs to  22-06-13 before moving on to Belfast and Dublin

Paul Marston 

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