Please, allow me to quote myself here, so my review can have some continuation.
Some sketchy impressions on MCB Giselle.
First of all, I must try to explain the general impression that this production had on me. Miamian Giselle feels to me like one of those shiny borrowed jewels the starlets get to wear on red carpets events. They get to be worn with pride and theres an effort to make them feel to the viewer's eye as if they belong to they user when in reality that's not the case. Giselle is a magnificent jewel of a ballet hard to be disliked by anyone. Starting with that, I must say that I'm happy I went to see this staging. Now, fact # 1. We all know this is an uncommon ballet for this company. It is not in their bones, and for much of the dancers it is like a new shiny costume that they get to play with for the first time. It takes time, MUCH time to make Giselle a company's own. It needs to be cherished, pass on, engraved on both the dancers AND the audience minds and hearts for it to be understood and loved. Otherwise it is just another XIX Century balletic curiosity, when in reality this is the most human of all ballets, for which it speaks of the ever present human stigma of helplessly loving someone who doesn't deserve that kind of love-(please, rise your hand if you haven't been thru it at some point of your life). Sad thing is, many of us choose to be bend over to such love and show irrational unconditionally, just as our ballet heroine, instead of getting our life straight, put all that baggage behind and choose to pick a deserving partner.
Point of my story, also related to the Miamian dancers being: do our current youth REALLY believes in that kind of stoic suffering...? Are those dancers/kids prepared to UNDERSTAND the essence of such huge life decisions as to show such enormous amounts of forgiveness, as our heroine ghostly nemesis does...? I doubt it. On the contrary, maybe at the age of our three Giselles-(Kronenberg, Albertson and Catoya)-this is a better understood subject, which is one of the reason that, on one side, I love to see mature dancers on this role. Sadly, on the other side, there's the inability to be technically proficient to execute Sppessivtzeva's diagonal, at least over here...
SETS AND COSTUMES.
This is not OUR production. Scenery and props were borrowed by long time godmother of this ballet, ABT, and costumes belong to Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal. Our Cinderella gets to wear her magic for a while, but we all know that the midnight will arrive at some point, and all will disappear into thin air, leaving the troupe back with its Balanchinean second skin. Another red carpet ephemeral moment. So, about ABT's scenery, I must say I never saw such luxurious sets for Giselle ever in my entire life. Giselle's cottage is now a three stories townhouse, and Albrecht castle is nicely seen in the distance. The Canadian costumes are beautiful also, with multicolored patterns for Act I-(lots of reds)-and lovely fluffy romantic skirts for Act II.
At fault: What is the hunting party doing in ballroom attires in the middle of the forest...?
"Adapted and re-staged by Edward Villella" states the playbill. Did he had such exposure to the ballet during his dancing years to be able to do so...?
My own intuition and some knowledge on different versions tells me that MCB is a mitch match of several stagings. I SAW fragments of the Cuban AND the Russian Giselles, carbon copied, and I suspect that video played a huge role in here. There were winner moments. Like in the Cuban version, this Giselle contains the WHOLE Berthe's scene, with no musical cuts. The miming tries to compress everything...the story of the Willis who keep dancing in the forest coming to life at night from underneath to kill men because of their anger of having died before being wed, which could happen to Giselle if she insists on dancing despite her weak heart. Lots of info, but Miamian Berthe manages to say it all. Two thumbs up! (and two more for Miss Callie Manning, of the BEST Berthes I've ever seen.
To be continued...
Let me first clarify that whatever comparison I'm making it is against my Alma Mater on this subject, the Dolin/Alonso staging of the Cuban version. which also has the hand of Mary Skeaping on -(like the whole Fugue of the Willis scene).
Keeping on with the choreographic subject, the Miamain staging has its winning moments, like the whole Myrtha's introductory scenes/variations. I'm not familiar with the current version of ABT, but the '77 production has some cuts during Van Hammel's first presentation of the Queen of the Wills onstage. As a non such fortunate moment we have the Fugue des Willis, which is heavily cut-(being such an spectacular/iconic moment of the ballet, both musically and choreographically , i can't understand why). Zulma and Moyna's variations are also dramatically eased down, and their choreography suffers from lack of legato and grandeur. If you blink your eyes, they're gone from stage without any acknowledgment from the audience. I remember theirs used to be a moment to wait for, for which it was usually done by those ballerinas on the verge of becoming Principals . The music used to be slow, and the choreography would allow them to luxuriate in posing and stillness. Also, I noticed that here they were left just left a tiny little space to dance their variations, for which the Willis corps was almost occupying all the stage...very separated from the wings. Moyna lost her extravagant penchee. Now she does a simple arabesque after the renversee.
The Peasant PDD male variation was beautifully executed by Kleber Rebello. His tours en l'air are textbook perfect, although I must say that the orchestra director was too condescending by allowing too much extra time for him to finish all that turning on the air before signaling the last accord to be in pace with his landing, resulting in some awkward silent moments. The female variation is very grey over here. About this pas, I should say I still don't get used to it. The Cuban version converts it into a grand Pas de Dix, with some spectacular moments on the guys jumping over the girls heads, and basically using much of the same choreography. Thing is, Alonso always said that this PDD looked to awkward in the middle of this story. i mean, the guy's variation has way more bravura moments than all Albrecht's combined dancing! Even my neophyte companion asked me who this two characters were, given the choreographic importance they're given. Here I agree that this couple is sort of anti climatic. We all know by now that the Pas was included right before the very first performance of the ballet for Nathalie Fitzjames as a personal request, so it is obvious that it kind of diminishes the choreographic supremacy of the main couple.
I just realized I'm going back and forth in between the two acts..
(forgive me about it).
Let's see...another nice touch from Act I is the little story created around the wine. When Bathilde's father is tasting the wine that timid Giselle offers, and signal that it is good, all the girls and boys seem relieved and very happy, making comments about it. This is a nice link and reminder to the timeframe of the story, the harvest.
I have spoke at large already about Giselle's Pas Seul poor general rendition. Only Mary Carmen Catoya
was able to make a good impression on me, being the only ballerina to attempt some of the few standards difficulties left in this staging. As for the rest of the females in this variation, I saw off balance AND off pointe accidents. I was quite sad to see such an exposed moment being butchered down and changed.
The Fugue des Willis lacks drama. The movements are not explosive enough and too languid. They didn't look like killing entities at all. They were more like multiplied Sylphs from Scotch Symphony. Albrecht here has Misha's diagonal of brises for Act II before Myrtha. All three bailarines-(Cerdeiro, Reyes and Guerra
)-did them, although it was Reyes who perform them best. A welcoming musical moment was the inclusion of the original fast paced final of the ballet, with its grand symphonic cadenza, vs. the Pavlova-created slow version. Very nice, for which it took me back to the Cuban version again, which uses it.
To be continued...