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Your first live Giselle......do you remember her...?


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#16 Lidewij

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Posted 12 June 2010 - 11:01 AM

I've been lucky enough to be taken to the ballet as a child. I don't remember my first Giselle, just the general scenery and that she wore a yellow dress in act I! I don't remember anything from act II, might have fallen asleep. :thumbsup:

#17 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 12 June 2010 - 11:50 AM

I don't remember my first Giselle, just the general scenery and that she wore a yellow dress in act I! I don't remember anything from act II, might have fallen asleep. :P


An honest answer is always valid...THANK YOU! :thumbsup:

Also, after reading all the reposts, I wonder how many of these "first Giselles" would also be the most memorable one...
I know there can't be a 100%/100% ratio...(starting with my own response, BTW)

#18 California

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Posted 12 June 2010 - 11:50 AM

For me, it was Baryshnikov and Gelsey Kirkland. And it was my first time seeing live ballet, ever. It was wonderful.


Me, too! I had seen live ballet before and lots of old films and TV broadcasts, but hadn't seen Giselle live in performance. I saw Baryshnikov and Kirkland in Giselle at the Kennedy Center in October 1975.

I discovered on a recent trip to New York that the Library of the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center has a tape of them in excerpts from Giselle in 1975. It was taped live in performance, with a piano accompaniment added later. I'm guessing there were restrictions on release of the tape, and it mainly focusses on Kirkland, along with the Kirkland-Baryshnikov PDD. It's 28 minutes long (MGZIA 4-3606), a "gift of Gelsey Kirkland." I was curious if my memories of them from 35 years ago had been embellished in my mind. Nope! They were even more wonderful than I remembered. A very brief clip from that tape is available on YouTube (donated by Kirkland and posted with her permission). It's one of her first act solos:

#19 Drew

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Posted 12 June 2010 - 12:02 PM

It's possible I am forgetting earlier performances, but I believe my first Giselle was Marilyn Burr with Ivan Nagy -- a performance by the now defunct National Ballet of Washington which at that time was directed by Frederic Franklin. (Later Ben Stevenson took over with Franklin still involved). I definitely remember Burr. I was a little girl and I totally believed her in the role...

(I have a vague thought that I may have seen a student performance of just Act II even before any National Ballet performances I saw, but am not certain: one or two of my sisters would have been dancing in it, though not the lead. However, I am much less certain whether I was seeing Giselle Act II or Les Sylphides or some other white ballet--I do vaguely remember my mother explaining to me about seeing an excerpt and long romantic tutus. I was about three years old...Anyway I saw my sisters in something...Let's call Burr my first Giselle!)

P.S. Edited long after anyone is reading this thread because of factual error.

#20 California

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Posted 12 June 2010 - 12:06 PM

I'm pretty sure it was Makarova, c 1980, with Alexander Godunov in Chicago. . . .


YouTube has a nice clip of Makarova and Godunov rehearsing the second act PDD, with some narration by Makarova:


He was only with ABT for a few years (1979-1982), so your guess of 1980 is in the right timeframe.

#21 lmspear

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Posted 12 June 2010 - 12:57 PM

Carla Fracci with Paolo Bortoluzzi at ABT around 1975.

#22 MakarovaFan

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Posted 12 June 2010 - 12:59 PM

I'm pretty sure it was Makarova, c 1980, with Alexander Godunov in Chicago. . . .


YouTube has a nice clip of Makarova and Godunov rehearsing the second act PDD, with some narration by Makarova:


He was only with ABT for a few years (1979-1982), so your guess of 1980 is in the right timeframe.


In 1980 I was lucky enough to see Godunov dance Swan Lake with Cynthia Gregory at the Met, who was a last minute replacement for Makarova who was out with an injury. I'll never forget the audience's collective groan when an announcer came on the loudspeaker and informed us of Makarova's injury. However, it turned out to be an exciting performance with the Gregory-Godunov chemistry being marvelous.

#23 JMcN

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Posted 12 June 2010 - 02:10 PM

My first Giselle was Mary McKendry with Maurizio Bellezza as her Albrecht. It was London Festival Ballet at the Liverpool Empire in 1985, in Mary Skeaping's production that ENB still perform. I think it was some time before I really started to realise what a masterpiece this production is and all I can remember is my feeling of boredom. I have seen this production many times over the intervening years (including last year) when I have enjoyed it tremendously asnd I feel quite ashamed of my initial reaction.

One of the most memorable performances of Giselle that I can remember is one in Plymouth six or seven years ago. Robert Parker was injured during the rehearsal and Chi Cao took over the role very late in the day. The Giselle that evening was a glorious Nao Sakuma.

Northern Ballet Theatre had a most memorable production of Giselle set in a ghetto in the second world war. The second act used male and female dancers as vengeful spirits. The choreography for Giselle and Albrecht was traditional. One of the most memorable performances of Giselle I have ever seen was Charlotte Broom and Daniel de Andrade in Cardiff in 1998. To this day, Denis Malinkine in this production is my defining Albrecht. This production was made by Michael Pink and he has remounted it for Milwaukee Ballet. I wish we could see it again.

#24 duffster

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Posted 12 June 2010 - 05:45 PM

My first live Giselle was Svetlana Beriosova with the Royal Ballet. I was very young, but I still remember her otherworldly quality and her serene presence especially in the second act. I believe, but I'm not quite sure, that her Albrecht was Donald Mc Leary. Thinking now of how very fortunate I was to have seen her.

#25 Helene

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Posted 12 June 2010 - 06:21 PM

My first live Giselle was Svetlana Beriosova with the Royal Ballet. I was very young, but I still remember her otherworldly quality and her serene presence especially in the second act. I believe, but I'm not quite sure, that her Albrecht was Donald Mc Leary. Thinking now of how very fortunate I was to have seen her.

Swoooooooonnn!

#26 canbelto

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Posted 12 June 2010 - 09:20 PM

Looking back, I think it was good that my first ever Giselle was Diana Vishneva. I had seen Giselles on video, and had seen excerpts performed live. I always thought of Giselle in Act 1 as a very sweet, innocent village girl, and in the second act as this gentle weightless spirit. I saw Vishneva and she completely erased all my previous conceptions of what Giselle "should" be. I had never thought that in Act 2 Giselle could be such a strong, even angry spirit. That during her initiation turns she was turning out of fury, and that the entire Act 2 could be played as a thrilling battle of wills between Giselle and Myrtha. I'll never remember how Vishneva, with just the right amount of dark eyeshadow, pitch dark hair, and the sternest expression in the world, made a Giselle that literally made my hair stand on end.
I also remember how beautifully Vishneva and Malakhov complemented each other. Both are what some people might call "over the top" performers, but they seemed to be dancing at times as one person. Both of them jumped at the same height, their body line was exactly matched, and it was just unforgettable how at the end of the ballet Malakhov seemed to be crawling after Giselle. Vishneva closed her hands together, as if to block Albrecht, as she returned to her grave. She gave Albrecht one last flower and was gone. This Giselle had exorcised her demons.
I might also add that I've seen DV now in a wide variety of roles. And that she's generally one of my favorite performers. But nothing she has ever done will in my mind ever match her Giselle.

#27 bart

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 07:02 AM

Canbelto's post about Vishneva makes me speculate on whether or not there is a generational divide in such matters.

Younger ballet goers are more likely to have seen videos of a large-scale before their first live performance. Those of us a little older didn't have that opportunity. I can't imagine any young ballet lover today being as unprepared as I was for their first Giselle (or any great classic). (I sort of knew the plot -- Act I, mostly -- but NOTHING about the impact of Act II. Talk about coup de foudre.)

Cristian raised the question of whether our "first" was also the most memorable. Yes and no, for me at least. I honestly don't remember much about Serrano's interpretation. Certainly not as much as those who come to a ballet "prepared" and are thus able to watch closely and dissect individual performances. I remember vividly the feel of that performance. And the look or ambience. (For some reason, I tend to hold onto images of the auditoriums in which performances take place, which is why I recall that Ballet Theater was not at the (old) Met for that particular performance.)

Memories like this make the "first" the "best" in some ways, if not in all. Like first love, I expect. The important thing for me, however, is NOT to use one performance as an absolute standard for all that follows. I don't like to set myself up for disappointment. There's always something wonderful to watch when talented dancers perform a work like Giselle, even if she/he is not the dancer of my dreams.

P.S. Recently I did some research on Serrano and discovered that she had been a high-praised Myrthe before dancing Giselle. I gather that her switch to Giselle was brought about in part by the departure of Alonso, who had for a while owned this role at Ballet Theater. Serrano danced Giselle for years and is said to have deepened in the role as time went by. Her most frequent partner was Royes Fernandez, so it's likely that he was the Albrecht I saw in the early 60s.

#28 leonid17

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 09:37 AM

Canbelto's post about Vishneva makes me speculate on whether or not there is a generational divide in such matters.

Younger ballet goers are more likely to have seen videos of a large-scale before their first live performance. Those of us a little older didn't have that opportunity. I can't imagine any young ballet lover today being as unprepared as I was for their first Giselle (or any great classic). (I sort of knew the plot -- Act I, mostly -- but NOTHING about the impact of Act II. Talk about coup de foudre.)

Cristian raised the question of whether our "first" was also the most memorable. Yes and no, for me at least. I honestly don't remember much about Serrano's interpretation. Certainly not as much as those who come to a ballet "prepared" and are thus able to watch closely and dissect individual performances. I remember vividly the feel of that performance. And the look or ambience. (For some reason, I tend to hold onto images of the auditoriums in which performances take place, which is why I recall that Ballet Theater was not at the (old) Met for that particular performance.)

Memories like this make the "first" the "best" in some ways, if not in all. Like first love, I expect. The important thing for me, however, is NOT to use one performance as an absolute standard for all that follows. I don't like to set myself up for disappointment. There's always something wonderful to watch when talented dancers perform a work like Giselle, even if she/he is not the dancer of my dreams.

P.S. Recently I did some research on Serrano and discovered that she had been a high-praised Myrthe before dancing Giselle. I gather that her switch to Giselle was brought about in part by the departure of Alonso, who had for a while owned this role at Ballet Theater. Serrano danced Giselle for years and is said to have deepened in the role as time went by. Her most frequent partner was Royes Fernandez, so it's likely that he was the Albrecht I saw in the early 60s.


I am so glad you mentioned Lupe Serrano. I never saw her in Giselle only in Swan Lake and a number of "fireworks" number and I was impressed. Royes Fernandez was the perfect gentlemanly Prince who convinced me he really belonged on the stage.

#29 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 06:51 PM

Edited: Double post.

#30 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 06:51 PM

I am so glad you mentioned Lupe Serrano. I never saw her in Giselle only in Swan Lake and a number of "fireworks" number and I was impressed. Royes Fernandez was the perfect gentlemanly Prince who convinced me he really belonged on the stage.

A litte off topic...
When I met Miss Serrano during the last Miami Ballet Festival, she stroke me as a very serious lady...rather severe, so maybe she was better suited for Myrtha than Giselle.

And to answer my own question of a probable identification between the first and the most most memorable Giselle, this was not my case. Just as bart, I remember mostly the ambiance and magic of the ballet on that first experience, but many years would pass between that Giselle and the very one that made me believe 100 % in the possibility of keeping the romantic style alive and updated. It was Miss Lorna Feijoo...and oh...was she DIVINE! :sweatingbullets:


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