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Giselle modern productions


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A world premiere of Akram Khan's Giselle at English National Ballet next season, Reimagining Giselle as part of Draft Works at the Royal Opera House in April 2016, Jerome Bel's production Tombe, which is inspired by Giselle, currently at Paris Opera Ballet. What makes Giselle so attractive to create modern versions of it? Or just pure coincidence? Apologies if this is an odd question!

 

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A world premiere of Akram Khan's Giselle at English National Ballet next season, Reimagining Giselle as part of Draft Works at the Royal Opera House in April 2016, Jerome Bel's production Tombe, which is inspired by Giselle, currently at Paris Opera Ballet. What makes Giselle so attractive to create modern versions of it? Or just pure coincidence? Apologies if this is an odd question!

 

It's easy to recreate or re-envisage as it has a very simple plot (can be easily summarised in two sentences), but one which has a lot of undertones about the human psyche. 

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Exactly.  Just because it's clothed in old-fashioned garb doesn't mean that it doesn't deal in eternal truths, and those are still relevant to us today. Some men (and women, of course) are still cheats and betrayers, and the message about love and forgiveness is still a powerful one.  On the other hand, I suppose you could say that La Sylphide has eternal truths of the "grass always looks greener elsewhere" variety, yet it doesn't inspire people in the same way.

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Agree with all of the above. I also think the challenge of using two very different styles in the two acts must be very appealing.

 

I do remember Guillem's Giselle! Wasn't she trying to introduce more realism into the ballet? I think I wasn't that crazy about her approach - the staging seemed a bit cold, but I loved how the Wilis were costumed in individual white wedding dresses.

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As with Shakespeare, the themes are universal and eternal so they can be transposed to any era. Whether the production works is, however, an entirely different matter!

 

I love Ireland's Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre's take on Giselle...it is weird, wonderful, engaging and original.

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A world premiere of Akram Khan's Giselle at English National Ballet next season, Reimagining Giselle as part of Draft Works at the Royal Opera House in April 2016, Jerome Bel's production Tombe, which is inspired by Giselle, currently at Paris Opera Ballet. What makes Giselle so attractive to create modern versions of it? Or just pure coincidence? Apologies if this is an odd question!

 

I welcome all that and I shall be in the audience at the Palace when English National Ballet's dances Akram Khan's production in Manchester.

 

Although Giselle is one of my favourite ballets I have never been very comfortable with Act II for reasons I set out in a post in this forum some about 2 years ago which evoked a lot of criticism at the time. Although Adam's score is beautiful and the choreography sublime I can only take it if I pretend it is an abstract work like Les Sylphides or Serenade banishing the synopsis from my mind.

 

Last Sunday I saw David Dawson's 5 which uses Adam's music but in a completely different way.

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When Janet's next on here, I expect she'll be talking about Northern Ballet Theatre's old production of Giselle: was it set in a concentration camp, or just in WWII?

 

 

 

It was set in a ghetto rather than a concentration camp.  Lez Brotherston's set gave the impression it was Warsaw.  The choreography for Giselle and Albrecht was the traditional steps that we were used to but Michael Pink had also interpolated a beautiful elegaic solo for Albrecht in Act 2 where Albrecht usually just walks around the stage holding a bunch of lilies.

 

Christopher Gable's first production for Northern Ballet, when he took over as AD, was a lovely traditional Giselle.  Legend has it that this was being revived when he and Michael Pink decided they did not have enough dancers to do justice to the Wilis in Act 2.  This production was born from that.  The Wilis became vengeful spirits and were men as well as women.

 

When we were lucky to see both productions back to back in Oslo I realised how clever Gable and Pink had been in Act 2.  Although it was all new choreography, if you were familiar with the original you could see the references they had used in the new choreography.

 

I found it an incredibly moving, truly satisfying production and I would very nearly kill to see it again.

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It was set in a ghetto rather than a concentration camp.  Lez Brotherston's set gave the impression it was Warsaw.  The choreography for Giselle and Albrecht was the traditional steps that we were used to but Michael Pink had also interpolated a beautiful elegaic solo for Albrecht in Act 2 where Albrecht usually just walks around the stage holding a bunch of lilies.

 

Christopher Gable's first production for Northern Ballet, when he took over as AD, was a lovely traditional Giselle.  Legend has it that this was being revived when he and Michael Pink decided they did not have enough dancers to do justice to the Wilis in Act 2.  This production was born from that.  The Wilis became vengeful spirits and were men as well as women.

 

When we were lucky to see both productions back to back in Oslo I realised how clever Gable and Pink had been in Act 2.  Although it was all new choreography, if you were familiar with the original you could see the references they had used in the new choreography.

 

I found it an incredibly moving, truly satisfying production and I would very nearly kill to see it again.

 

 

Goodness, that sounds fascinating.  When was the last time it was done? 

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Sadly Fonty, the last time we were able to see this in the UK was 1998.  We saw one performance in Oslo in 1999.

 

It was performed in Milwaukee last year ... unfortunately by the time I found out I already had other things booked in this country.

 

I know it was not to everyone's taste but it was very thought provoking.

 

Given that it was the traditional choreography for Albrecht and Giselle I can say that the best performance I have ever seen of Giselle was in Cardiff in May 1998 with Charlotte Broom and Daniel de Andrade.  It was absolutely overwhelming and, for me, has never been surpassed.

 

I don't have many roles where I have a definitive dancer but my definitive Albrecht, who immediately springs to mind when  there is a general discussion about Giselle, is Denis Malinkine who is now ballet master in Milwaukee.

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I LOVE LOVE LOVE David Dawson's Giselle for Dresden. I adore the traditional Giselle too, but I just loved his choreography, the costumes, everything. I bet his Swan Lake for Scottish Ballet will be fantastic.

 

 

I'll let you know how wonderful it is when I have seen it in Liverpool in June!

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I can't believe you go for a whole page of modern Giselles without even mentioning Mats Ek's Giselle from 1982 which uses the old story and the Adam score, but takes place in an asylum - this was one of the groundbreaking productions for modernizing the old classics. It was in the repertory of many big companies and there's a DVD with Ana Laguna. Well, maybe that's what Mr. Ek gets from retiring his works from the stage, he will be forgotten... :huh:

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I saw the Guillem reworked Giselle which I thought was an interesting idea in theory but disappointing in practice. I have seen the Mats Ek's version in a recording and I shall go and see Akram Khan's new version for ENB. However the thing that would interest me far more than another reworking of the Giselle story is an attempt to reconstruct the ballet along the lines of the work done recently by Northwest Pacific Ballet.That company's reconstruction used a number of sources apart from the Stepanov notation of the Petipa version of the ballet including records from the first staging of Giselle in Russia in the early 1840's and the detailed account of the mime recorded by Henri Justament who was responsible for the last nineteenth century revival of the ballet at the Paris Opera.

 

I understand that when it came to the dance text there were compromises as the dancers of the Pacific Northwest Ballet were reluctant to relinquish elements of the text which have now become iconic such as the overhead Bolshoi lifts in act 2 and that there were modifications to the dance text as some of the recorded choreography was too taxing.

 

It would be wonderful to see a production which, instead of showing us edited highlights which is all most modern productions do, gave us a text that might be recognised by some of the nineteenth century choreographers and dancers who worked on it. It would mean a lot more mime than we are used to seeing; characters who are little more than ciphers in modern productions because they have so little to do to do fleshed out and an opportunity to discover why the Adam score was so admired by his contemporaries. There is far more to the score's reputation than merely being the first score specifically written for a ballet rather than a patchwork of well known melodies which "spoke" to the audience because it knew the source and original context of the tunes. It would be good to know what Giselle may have looked like before it was "improved" or reworked.

Edited by FLOSS
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