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Royal Ballet US Tour--Giselle

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Friday found me at the stratosphere section at the OCPAC watching Giselle. The air up here is thin but we sure are having fun, could it be onset of hypoxia? Anyway Miyako Yoshida danced Giselle, Federico Bonelli as count Albrecht and Zenaida Yanowsky as Myrtha. Now this is my first time writing about a ballet that I saw so I'm not going into the technics and terms of how they danced, but I do wish to be fluent of them someday. Ms. Yoshida was great in her portrayal of the fragile Giselle, although the role of Giselle has been danced by many ballerinas through out the world, but still it is interesting to see an Asian playing a supposedly Bavarian farm girl. Ms. Yoshida danced with sureness of a concrete foundation, her turns and pointe works are spot on. Her acting was in keeping of a frail girl protected by her mother, but from my powerful pair of binocular through out act one she was grinning way too much. Ms. Yoshida's mad scene was great, her facial expressions and her body languages bring tears to my eyes and that was not because of the thin air up where we were.

Mr. Boncelli and Ms. Yoshida in act two were perfect as far as I can see. They make Giselle so weightless that she seems to float. Everytime Albrecht lifts her, she would just seems to drift away from him, perfect.

Ms. Yanowsky plays a cold hearted Myrtha, she and the corps de ballet seems to be dancing as one last night. Ms. Yanowsky exhibited elegant that makes Royal Ballet great, although after the preformance I had a chance to meet her and she was tall!! I'm 5'7" and I have to look up at her, HA!! :( Anyway the high point of the ballet was the corps de ballet itself, they were what everyother ballet companies should learn from. The Wilis floated across the stage with precision as the choreograph takes them through the differnt formations. I truly belived that a strong corps de ballet is a must for any ballet compay to worth its salt.

The set designs of Giselle's village and the forest of the wilis were scrumptious, the best that I have ever seen in a touring company. The house looked real for a village house during the 16th century, and the grave site has the look of neglect and eeriness.

Afterward, I get to meet some of the dancers including Ms. Yoshida, they were the nicest people that I have ever met and it just concludes a perfect evening at the ballet.

P.S. In act one's peasant pas de duex, they changed it to pas de six instead.


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Three "Giselles" to close out the Royal Ballet's performances in Costa Mesa - now all of you in New York get them!

The corps was uniformly excellent throughout the Act IIs, as Maxi mentioned about Friday's performance. They were all wonderfully wistful and ghostly in their opening Waltz, but strong technically as well. (The Wili "chug" towards the end of the Waltz - that part where they are all in arabesque and hop forward - did not get applause until the final night of performances). I liked watching the corps right after Hilarion's death scene, where they arrange into groups of four, then leap off in groups to go find Albrecht - each group was perfectly together and the clonks as they hit the stage floor after the jetes were right in time with the music, as they should be. There were even hints of vengefulness - these Wilis are, after all, out to kill.

Overal performances, however, were less even in quality. The trend, however, was a huge increase in quality from opening to closing, starting with Friday night's relatively muted and flat performance and escalating to Saturday night's absolutely firecracker closing cast.

Friday saw Miyako Yoshida as Giselle. Despite her perfect, beautiful technique, Yoshida unfortunately failed to project much warmth or character. Her mime was too flowy and pretty, lacking spontenaity and drama. Act I of Giselle needs you to believe in Giselle as a character, and to feel for her as the story progresses. With Yoshida, it was harder to do that, as it looked like she was simply going through the pre-choreographed motions of the role. Yoshida's dancing, however, almost made up for it. During her variation in front of Bathilde - occurring near the end of Act I - it was like she suddenly woke up and things got exciting. But then her Mad scene failed to build properly towards a climax, and it was a rather cold death. As a consequence, Act I seemed subdued Friday night. Federico Bonelli was her Albrecht, and he did not help much in the character department. He is, however, relatively new to the Royal Ballet, and perhaps he will grow into something more.

Things picked up in Act II, where Yoshida's technique made for a fabulous Dead Giselle. Zenaida Yanowsky danced Myrtha - and she's very tall, especially in comparison with the rest of the company. She danced large, and her jumps carried a weight that the other dancers didn't seem to have. But her Myrtha was an appropriately cold and stately queen - a very good performance.

Saturday afternoon was a marked difference over Friday. Robert Marquez danced Giselle with much more conviction and spunk than Yoshida. Hers was a girl who delighted in the idea of falling in love, and her Albrecht, Ivan Putrov, made it easy to do so. Marquez also has great technique, not quite as crystal clear and polished as Yoshida's, but it was remarkable nonetheless. She still hit her variation in Act I wonderfully - the hops on pointe got cut a bit short, but she made up for it afterwards. Marquez' Act II nearly got overshadowed by Putrov's amazingly high jumps during the Albrect variations. Putrov, more than any of the other three casts, really did seem like he was dancing to death - there was energy and there was athleticism. So he did end up looking tired as he approached death, and not in a bad way either. Vanessa Palmer danced Myrtha, and I liked her Myrtha the best of all three I saw this weekend. Very icy, technically strong (all those huge jumps and turns nailed perfectly) and dramatically very sound as well.

Saturday evening’s “Giselle” was spectacular. Dramatically, everyone in the cast seemed to wake up and join the action. It was a theatrically sound production, where Act I for once did not feel long, and the mime didn't seem outdated or excessive. Every dancer, from the corps de ballet to the soloists in the pas de six, were alive and wonderful. It was theater as much as it was ballet.

Then, there were Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg. Cojocaru was brilliant as Giselle. She was a girlish Giselle, full of life and reveling in the joy of being in love. But her characterization was also detailed, nuanced and spontaneous. You never knew what she was going to do next, and it was like watching a very real person up there – despite the fact that real people don’t mime to talk, and real people don’t hop around on pointe to walk. She made the ballet dancing and the pantomime all so much a part of her language that it all seemed organic and natural. It was a remarkable performance. And the same went for Kobborg. He and Cojocaru are very in tune with each other as actors and as dancers. They paid attention to each other, and it looked like they were reacting to each others’ gestures as though for the first time – in or out of the rehearsal room. They were Albrecht and Giselle, in real life.

For Kobborg, this was a marked improvement over his Prince of earlier this week. His Prince in “Cinderella” seemed bored, and he was technically unsure. But his Albrecht was detailed and sympathetic – his Albrecht seemed to truly love Giselle, he wasn’t just playing around with a peasant girl.

Dancing wise, both were excellent as well. Cojocaru has wonderful extensions, which she used to ghostly effect in Act 2. She did flub the hops on pointe during her Act I variation – she hopped for a bit, then did a turn, then hopped again and turned again. I couldn’t tell if this was to cover a mistake of it was a choice of hers to change the choreography for herself. This was a minor glitch, however, as she made everything else shine so brightly. Her Act 2 was exquisitely rendered, and as I said before, all the dancing seemed like a natural language for her.

As Myrtha, Mara Galeazi seemed to be having a bit of trouble holding the extended arabesque poses at the beginning of her dancing, but she later grew more comfortable and added much to the great evening that was Saturday evening’s “Giselle.”

Other notable dancing in these three “Giselles:” instead of the Peasant Pas de Deux we got a Peasant Pas de Six, using a principle couple and two subsidiary couples in what looks like Ashton choreography (I seem to remember reading somewhere that this is Ashton – but I’m not sure...anybodu know?). Laura Morera and Ricardo Cervera were particularly good in the pas de six on Saturday night, and Marianela Nunez impressed on Friday night.

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I agree with you on Ms. Cojocaru's Giselle Art076. I always thought that she makes a great Giselle. I even go so far as to say that she was born for the role. Her physique and her talent just make her for a perfect Giselle. I wanted to go to her perfromance but I have to work early the next day :angry: Now I have to wait until the Royal Ballet comes around next time, hopfully, sooner than seven years :(

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Other notable dancing in these three “Giselles:” instead of the Peasant Pas de Deux we got a Peasant Pas de Six, using a principle couple and two subsidiary couples in what looks like Ashton choreography (I seem to remember reading somewhere that this is Ashton – but I’m not sure...anybodu know?).  Laura Morera and Ricardo Cervera were particularly good in the pas de six on Saturday night, and Marianela Nunez impressed on Friday night.

About the Ashton elements: the production is by Sir Peter Wright. The choreography of the pas de six is mainly his, I believe, apart from one of the girl's solos. In the programme at Covent Garden, this is explicitly credited to Ashton.

It certainly used to leap out at you that this was Ashton's work, but this now very much depends on who is dancing it. Not all the Royal's dancers have that particular accent any more.

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