New twist to old favourite

Giselle

English Youth Ballet

Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

*****

The English Youth Ballet's first night performance of Giselle was a triumph. The principals set extremely high standards in this exquisite form of story telling which were met by the rest of the company.

Director Janet Lewis's adaptation of this classic romance sets the story on a country estate in pre-first world war England and is given a further dimension by adding extra characters and includes music from other ballets.  

Julianne Rice-Oxley is exquisite as the delicate Giselle, governess to the household.  Some humour is injected when Prince Albert (Oliver Speers), disguised as a footman, woos and finally wins Giselle. Emily Lister (Lucienne) shines during her solo.  The first act is colourful and busy and ends with sadness as the delicate Giselle is driven to madness then she discovers her lover, is betrothed to the Lady Bathilde and her ailing heart fails. 

Act 2 Takes place in a shady glade, respects are paid at Giselle's graveside and the Wilis, spirits of dance-loving brides who died before their wedding day, dance the men to their deaths.  Hilarion (Brendan Bratulic) is driven to a watery end in the lake.  A broken hearted Albert visit Giselle's grave and is condemned to death by Myrtha the Queen of the Wilis (Alex Newton) (delightful solo).

ENERGETIC PERFORMANCES

 Both Bratulic and Speers provide beautiful, moving and energetic individual performances, Bratulic as he is danced to his death by the nymphs and Speers as he is protected and finally saved by his beloved Giselle

With a company of 113 the stage is at times very full but the performance is extremely well choreographed and directed and, to my eye, there were no hiccups at all. 

Each of the young dancers from local dancing schools, all aged between eight and 18,  are to be commended.  They are very well disciplined and rise to the demands of working in a professional production.  They each auditioned earlier in the year and in just 11 days, working in four separate groups headed by one of the professional principals, achieved a really high standard of performance.   There was not a single first-night nerve in sight.

My only criticism, I am afraid to say, is that just sometimes I needed captions as it wasn't quite clear to me how the story was developing.  However, overall the show was excellent.  It was sad to see a just few empty seats,    The well deserved, enthusiastic and long ovation was testament to the success of the performance. To 18-09-10.

Lynda Ford 

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