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What should Giselle's dress look like?

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Maybe I'm weird but one of the first things I look for in Giselle is what kind of dress Giselle is wearing. In the old footage of Olga Spessivtseva I was surprised to see her wearing an extremely short dress in the first act. Probably to show off her legs, but still, a surprise. But what do you think Giselle's dress should look like? I notice that the Royal Ballet has Giselle dressed in a somewhat plain dumpy brown dress. But elsewhere Russian Giselle dresses tend to be prettier, usually a shade of baby blue with some nice blue trimmings. The Bolshoi Giselle is dressed in a shock of yellow and maroon -- I think it looks too glamorous personally. So do you think Giselle's dress should be peasant-like with earth tones, or should the prettiest girl in the village also be somewhat dolled up?

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i believe it's known that carlotta grisi's dress (by lormier) was in a palette of blues.

karsavina's turn-of-the-20th-century costume seems to have based on this idea, as have others, noted above.

the bolshoi's yellow is the choice of givenchy who designed vasiliev's production.

the others are likewise individual designer choices.

re: short skirts, i believe chauvire notes that the short skirt she wore - in the wake of that worn by spesivtseva - was in part due to the fabric shortage connected to wartime conditions.

i suppose if one is making direct reference to the ballet's 'roots' and the 'original' production(s) one might go w/ the 'directions' given by lormier - i wonder if one knows who designed the russian revivals by petipa after perrot. certainly the russian's have a tradition of keeping to the blue scheme for giselle's act one costume, even if and when the fabric is tulle and cut more like a tutu skirt - see virsiladze's designs for the bolshoi ballet.

(garafola's credits for petipa's 1884 staging include no mention of designs.)

the attached is a postcard from the imperial era of Anna Platonovna Domyershchikova, who seems to have danced at the maryinsky around 1906. it shows what i take to be one of giselle's 'friends.' [the writing on the side is some sort of advertisement.]

post-848-1190137075_thumb.jpg

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I don't know what Giselle's dress should look like, but I've seen one that had a sheer fabric covering the bosom. Maybe the theater audience couldn't tell, but on video the dancer's breasts could be clearly seen through the top. Perhaps I'm being prudish, but I would prefer Giselle to display a bit more modesty. :angel_not:

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Old fashioned, I'd love to have seen that performance. Elsewhere there's a thread on whether Albrecht is a cad. Now, it seems, we have at least one interpretation in which Giselle is a seductress. Wow!

I went to to Google Images and searched for "giselle" + "ballet". There are 15,000 images covering more of the performance history than I would have expected.

Although most are from Act II, there are also many that show the Act I faux-peasant dress in a variety of colors, styles, and levels of simplicity or busy-ness.

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Here's a picture of the very young Margot Fonteyn in Giselle. Of the productions I've seen I really like the Kirov and POB Giselle dresses. Nice, simple blue dresses with a bit of blue trim on the skirt. I think the Bolshoi dresses look too glamorous, with the billowy yellow skirts and the maroon tops.

It also depends on the dancer. I think Lynn Seymour looks fitting in the plain brown Royal dress because I think of her as a rather earthy dancer. But when Alina Cojocaru is in the same dress, it doesn't feel right. I think Alina belongs in a daintier, frillier dress. Weird huh?

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Never ever chiffon in the first act. They're peasants for goodness sake.

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So do you think Giselle's dress should be peasant-like with earth tones, or should the prettiest girl in the village also be somewhat dolled up?

Personally, i don't want to see a costume that pretends to look like an original peasant skirt. If we would stick to the real thing, they might as well present the tutus somehow dirty and ripped off...No, i like the "ilusion" of the ballet, and the cute game on presenting a "village girl" with an obviously unreal dolled up version of a costume. That's why my pick goes to the fluffy and over the top blue Bestmernova's lovely number :bow: for the Bolshoi old production with Lavrowsky. For the real thing...well, there's a lot of "reality" out there, and it's not glamorous nor pretty...Let's keep the game of the ilusion of the imperial days alive!

Again, this is my own humble opinion...

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I've never seen a Giselle in what looks like authentic peasant dress. All the ones I've seen have had some lace and velvet. But I like the fact that RB's Giselle is dressed from the same palette as her fellow villagers. In other productions, when the whole town is wearing drab earth tones, why is this one lass in brilliant blue? Is she setting next year's fashion trend? Now, if she wore bright blue and her buddies were in pale or dusty blue tones, that would be fine, too. I just don't care for a jarring contrast which, incidentally, implies that the dancer portraying Giselle might need help distinguishing herself from the corps and demis.

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What about the apron?

I think she should have an apron in the first act -- pretty of course, white against a blue skirt is usual -- but something that makes it clear that she has demands on her time, work to do, when she's not picking daisies and .... So when she says she should go back in the house, the costume backs her up -- not that we WANT HER TO-- but it's one of the constraints on her, so that when Bathilde's dress goes sweeping by, we suddenly begin to feel the difference. Bathilde's dress should NOT have an apron.

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So do you think Giselle's dress should be peasant-like with earth tones, or should the prettiest girl in the village also be somewhat dolled up?

Personally, i don't want to see a costume that pretends to look like an original peasant skirt. If we would stick to the real thing, they might as well present the tutus somehow dirty and ripped off...

I'm with Cristian. The very concept of costume "realism" seems ridiculous when all the village girls are wearing satin pointe shoes. :bow:

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