My review of Giselle with the Australian Ballet is now available on DanceTabs at this link.
I am disappointed that I was not able to be more positive in this review. But the experience did set me thinking about the importance of every character in a narrative ballet having a strong vision of where their character fits within the overall story. When it happens audiences are the beneficiaries, but the experience also reflects back really well on the dancers and the company. In the performance of Giselle I saw there were occasions when there seemed to be a lack of understanding of why certain things were happening, and a consequent lack of reaction between characters. Ballet companies are time-poor these days, I know, and it struck me that perhaps a dramaturg is needed occasionally?
I look forward to seeing other casts in Sydney and Canberra.
Michelle Potter, 16 March 2015
Update (7 April 2015): My review of another Giselle cast, featuring Juliet Burnett and Jared Wright, is at this link.
5 thoughts on “Giselle. The Australian Ballet (2015)”
Astute call re Guo and Kusch. The story telling by the leads is paramount. I had a ballet overload weekend and saw all three casts. Hands down my pick was Amber Scott and Ty King-Wall’s performance. The onstage connection and fluidity of partnering was just beautiful, as were the subtle nuances of believable characterisation. No overacting here. I much prefer King-Walls articulation of Albrect to Kevin Jackson’s overly emotive portrayal. Scott’s mad scene was not overplayed at all, just a heartfelt rendering. King-Wall’s lovely line and tight technique was shown beautifully in his very caring partnering of the beautiful Giselle, and the tangible connection between the two in the pas de deux sequences took the very appreciative audience with them. Beautiful and they fully deserved the many bravos from the audience. I thought the Wilis were an absolute credit to the artistic staff once again, and shows the depth of quality the company has within its ranks. As always more dancing from the male corps would be welcome. That said I very much enjoyed this production from the classical canon.
Thank you so much for this comment. I enjoyed reading it very much and I love that you have mentioned the connection factor. It is exactly what was missing from the Kusch/Guo performance. I hope I will get to see Scott and King-Wall in Sydney or Canberra.
I sometimes feel that part of the problem is that it is not always remembered that this is a drama, and the Act II choreography needs to be approached very carefully – not as a way of showing off technical skills, as Osipova is now inclined to do with those soaring soubresauts, for all the world as though she is dancing the Volta, but recognising that the relative simplicity of the steps is to enable the dancers to fully express the characters. To my mind, there is no room for showing-off in Giselle – it has to flow and carry the audience along to that final and (if well done) heartbreaking moment.
I absolutely agree with all you have written. The issues you outline were definitely part of the problem in the performance I saw. The frustrating thing is that I had a conversation with Maina Gielgud for an article I was writing for The Canberra Times and she made it quite clear that one of the aspects of performance she was trying to address as she coached Act II was how to have Albrecht dancing beautifully while at the same time looking absolutely exhausted! So she was working in the best possible way I think. I have another cast to see on Saturday in Sydney so my fingers are crossed!