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GISELLE: June 12-17

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TUESDAY NIGHT JUNE 13th: Paloma and Marcelo

This was a fine performance due to the corps being in fine shape and a predictably superb performance by Marcelo Gomes, from now on I dub him Marcelo the Magnificent.

I have avoided Paloma in this role for various reasons - mainly that I have been more interested in seeing other ballerinas dance this signature Romantic role. To my surprise she did better in the more theatrical first act than in the more pure dance oriented second act.

In the first act Paloma was very believably and touchingly girlish, coltish, happily in love and innocent. Her happy smile lit up the stage. She danced very well particularly in her solo when she is named harvest queen - the hops on pointe were excellent, the arms okay. Her interpretation was fine until the mad scene. Here you could see that she has been very thoroughly coached and it was broken down into different sections with individual dramatic effects. However, it was all applied from the outside and rather studied. We didn't see where the madness came from - it seemed out of character for this happy, sensible girl to lose her wits so quickly.

Marcelo had a nicely impulsive quality that made you forgive Albrecht's arrogance and selfishness. You felt that he couldn't help himself - he had to do what he had to do. His grief over Giselle's lifeless body was uninhibited and convincing, not over the top. (Note to Albrecht: stop ignoring and dismissing Wilfred's advice - he is always right!)

However, in the second act Paloma didn't seem to care about creating physical images and movements to suggest a supernatural wraith - just a generalized and slow Romantic affect. When summoned from the grave by Myrtha's wand, Paloma just walked slowly from the wings onto the burial plot behind the cross. Most Giselles dart in so fast they seem to have materialized from the mist. Paloma then walked slowly bent over to Myrtha without that stiffness that suggests a lifeless empty body being moved by an external force. The backward spin in arabesque should suggest Giselle being reanimated and casting off a deathly sleep but Paloma did it too slowly and without dramatic abandon, so it suggested just a dance step.

When Marcelo made his entrance, so darkly handsome and into the moment, Paloma improved. Marcelo's partnering skills made Paloma seem to weigh nothing, to be composed of air. Gomes carried her across the stage so that she just had to flex her toe to skim the ground. He lifted her high over his six foot plus head in an easy sweeping motion, held her for a long time without visible effort and then put her down so slowly she felt no impact. He did everything to project Albrecht's emotions but was completely there for her every moment. In his coda, Marcelo did a series of very high upward jumps with foot beats (there is a technical term for this but I don't know it).

Paloma's work in the big pas de deux was fine technically but the arms and the musical phrasing weren't quite magical.

Jesus Pastor made Hilarion a very clearly motivated and engaged figure at all times and danced his limited choreography excellently. Ilona McHugh was a very loving, concerned and protective Berthe. Anna Liceica did Bathilde with just the right mix of aristocratic hauteur and reserve and feminine sympathy. Carlos Lopez and Maria Riccetto danced the Peasant Pas de Deux with nice detail and brio.

I wondered if Stella Abrera would be too delicate, petite and feminine for the fearsome Myrtha but I was wrong. She had a porcelain quality but intensely cold and forbidding and danced with great authority and control.

The corps looked in good shape but the sets are beginning to look a little faded and the second act drops look musty and wrinkled. A little repainting and repair seem in order. The lighting could be reworked too for greater effect.

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Diana and Vladimir

Early in Act I Vladimir Malakhov's hand touched Diana Vishneva's sleeve. And Giselle reacted and there it was, a rush from (in my case) long ago, the memory of the first engulfing moment of Love. This wasn't going to be a Giselle about interpretations or acting or even choices. The special relationship between these dancers in real life was what we got. A partnership on par with Ferri and Bocca. Of course everything wonderful about Diana's technical skills was present, just better, even more. It was not the weakened Malakhov of their Romeo and Juliet a couple of summers ago, but rather the Vladimir of the three perfect Giselles with McKerrow nearly a decade past. The great flexible back was here, backbends nearly to the floor.

Through the standing ovation and curtain calls they were still there. I wonder if they'll even remember the response. But I will always remember this Giselle.

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I'm with you, drb! Vishneva is a very exciting dancer in every way. The chemistry and partnership between her and Malakhov was riveting and chilling.

I find I have some criticisms -- the corps looked a little ragged at times, and I found Michele Wiles, a dancer I confess I don't "get" in general, uninteresting. (I kept wishing for Veronika Part as Myrtha; this role is tailor-made for her commanding and regal presence. Why isn't ABT making better use of her talent?? But I digress...) Despite some criticisms, though, I loved tonight's performance from end to end -- is that the Vishneva magic?

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...I kept wishing for Veronika Part as Myrtha; this role is tailor-made for her commanding and regal presence. Why isn't ABT making better use of her talent?? ...

I agree re comments about ABT's Assoluta, Veronika Part. She was Myrta in Diana's legendary Giselle of last season. Since they've known each other since school days they naturally had a great rapport. Part was Myrta in the Wednesday matinee performance with Irina Dvorovenko. While Irina's Act I was beautifully danced she got much deeper into the role in Act II playing off Veronika's powerhouse Queen. It is a shame that McKenzie didn't grasp the value of pairing the two native Leningraders.

Still, I have to say this was the best Myrta I've seen from Michele. She is cast in it frequently, probably b/c she is tall. But jumping isn't usually her strong suit. Yet tonight her technique was excellent, with confidence and ease, and she did project power (not fair to compare anyone other than, say Lopatkina or Alexandrova to Part). Although I must admit to not watching her every moment, as I was glued to that single entity a/k/a Diana/Vladimir.

Also quite admirable tonight was Sascha Radetsky's very well danced Hilarion. By not overacting (which would have been a sin in the presence of the non-acting, instead real, leads), he was a more sympathetic character. It was almost a crime that Giselle didn't save him too. But then again, she was in a two-person zone... Both Maria Riccetto and Zhong-Jing Fang were fine as Michele's juniors. Ms. Fang has a very special way of phrasing with her arms, giving them a moment longer in final poses, as if to let them sigh. Diana Vishneva is ABT's only Giselle under age 30. Their two best, Amanda McKerrow and Alessandra Ferri, are gone from the role. During the matinee McKenzie tested Sarah Lane to the max by casting her as one of Giselle's six friends. I know that Fang and Lane are even younger than Diana, but time's a wastin'.

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I went tonight. I've seen the Malakhov/Vishneva Giselle dvd from Tokyo, but seeing her int his complete role was so special. Vishneva combined so many elements -- technical mastery, physical beauty, and a strong, vivid personality. Vishneva's Giselle is somewhat unconventional -- headstrong, rebellious, mercurial, and passionate. Her "love me, love me not" scene didn't have the cloying cutesiness of so many Giselles -- Vishneva was genuinely extremely upset. Her mad scene was frantic, but never hammy. In Act 2, Vishneva was an otherwordly spirit, but one could sense incredible strength. It was a battle of willls between her and Myrtha, and one knew Giselle would win.

Technically, she was a marvel. Her hops on pointe were excellent. Her developpes hada hiint of tentativeness, but they were overall solid. Vishneva used her long, long arms to great effect.. Her grande jete is amazing -- airy, feather-light, yet extremely powerful, and they covered huge distances across the big Met stage. But most of all, her dancing has incredibly fluidity. I never feel like she's posing from one beautiful position to the next. She is a beautiful classical dancer, but she moves to the music like water in a stream. Even during the mad scene, she was able to convey a momentum as she tore at her hair and slumped on the ground. She received a well-deserved standing ovation at the end. A+.

Malakhov -- what can I say? A real dansuer noble, and his chemistry with Vishneva was palpable. In Act 1, Malakhov was caddish, but not overly so -- one just sensed that Albrecht was a spoiled rotten playboy that couldnt predict Giselle's deep love. In Act 2. he was truly remorseful. He and Vishneva have danced together many times, and it shows. They were able to mirror each others' movements beautifully. Both have incredible elevation in their jumps, and at times it seemed like both were literally flying. In the Act 2 pdd, it really seemed to be two bodies moving as one. They were really emotionally spellbinding. At the very end, Malakhov remained prostrate on the ground, clutching the flowers.

Michele Wiles was disappointing. I don't think shes a natural Myrtha -- she's not scary or intimidating at all. I think it's a shame that nowadays Tall = Myrtha. Wiles' wholesome persona grated -- why is everyone so scared of her? Overall, I don't think Michele will ever be a favorite of mine. I've seen her enough times, and so far she's never been able (for me) to convey anything but technical excellence and a bland, wholesome persona. I have a video of Veronika Part in this role and the difference is enormous. Part walks onstage like a queen, and commands instant respect and even fear. Murphy would be a great Myrtha too.

I HATE the ABT production. I hate how Giselle just walks on and offstage in Act 2, with no descent into the ground. That is one of my favorite moments of the ballet, because to me its a sign that Giselle has fought and won against the Wilis. She descends into the grave, haiving saved Albrecht. She is at peace. With the ABT production, I'd like to ask Kevin McKenize: where does Giselle go? Ugh. I also dislike Act 1 intensely, with two huge brown mud slabs that frame and crowd the stage needlessly.

But overall, it was worth it for the incredible pairing of Vishneva and Malakhov.

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I am mystified by the comment above about Radetsky not upstaging the "non-acting leads" - HUH?!?!? :)

If anything Vishneva and Malakhov in the first act were a little over the top dramatically by our rather ascetic current standards. The emotion they created was indeed "real" but highly theatrical as well. Of course, "Giselle" is a Romantic ballet about very young people and the emotions should be big and intense. In fact the emotional juices were running high all evening and you could see the energy feeding into the supporting players, the corps and the orchestra and out into the audience. The whole energy from top to bottom was higher. The audience was also larger and strikingly chic.

As for Vishneva and Malakhov - every second was fascinating, every moment rich and full with surprising revelations and magical interactions that you couldn't take your eyes off them for a split second. The second act was pure poetry with incredible images from Malakhov's deep backbends and inconsolable loss at the end to Vishneva's upward gaze when she realizes she has saved Albrecht and her slow retreat back to the grave. The handling of the lilies by both dancers was indelible. Vishneva also has those Kirov arms that breathe with the music in an organic way.

My friend mentioned that she had forgotten how much she missed Vladimir and one quality his Albrecht has is that it brings out the best in his Giselle. Amanda McKerrow and Julie Kent were never better than when they were dancing the role with him.

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Last night was AMAZING.

At least on the part of Vishneva/ Malakhov. I hadn't ever seen her dance before and I was totally satisfied (which is difficult!!). And I had only seen him do Lankendem in Corsaire, hardly a lead role, really. This was really one of the best performances I have seen at ABT, because there was actual ACTING, something I don't always see from ABT. :clapping: I was in the fourth row orchestra and the acting didn't seem contrived or forced....it was natural. And the mad scene...ohh. Not TOO crazy or done up, really convincing for me. I could actually hear her breathing, a frantic gasp. Act 2 she was every bit the spirit with hardly any noise from her shoes--thank goodness!!! Her spins when she first rose from the grave were gorgeous....super fast but extremely controlled. I also noticed that her running in the second act was very nice....fluid and floating, no bobbing up and down!! :flowers::flowers::flowers:

Michele Wiles as Myrtha didn't do it for me at all. She wasn't commanding enough, or cold enough. She was grinning (grinning!) doing some jetes en tournant. Now I know Myrtha is a proud character but she shouldn't really be joyful at any time during the ballet. She danced decently but didn't measure up to the caliber of Vishneva and Malakhov (not that that's really a fair measurement).

Corps was good in Act 1 for the mosdt part but a bit ragged in Act 2, like they knew they were just part of the background. Some of the faces on the corps girls were NOT ones of wilis....more like dancers who wished the performance was over! Having done the corps wilis part I know it's not one of the best things to be doing (all that standing on the side is terrible!) but when dancing with a company of this caliber there needs to be better faces and projection. The majority looked bored. And I wish they would deaden the noise from their shoes.

All in all a very good performance. Now I'm hoping I get chosen for a super for Swan Lake so I may have the privilege of being onstage for her Odette/ Odile! :blush:

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I saw Vishneva's 'Giselle' last year and thought she had all the makings of an outstanding 'Giselle'. Last night she was a great 'Giselle'. She is such a sensitive artist that perhaps her rapport with Malakov tipped the balance. Her dancing in Act 1 was so expansive---it was 'big' dancing and she had such joy in her variations. She was so passionate in her love for Albrecht that it was easy to believe his duplicity completely un-hinged her.

Act 2 brought back the premonition of her mother who had a vision of her as "a restless spirit". This was evident from our first glimpse of her out of the grave. She was a whirling phantom; indeed, she was unlike most Giselles who have a mask-like countenance. She showed us Giselle's restless spirit as no other ballerina has. After Giselle saves Albrecht, she avoids physical contact with him. With Albrecht lying on the ground she rises and goes towards the grave; he goes after her and she crosses her arms across her breast and backs away from him, avoiding his entreating arms. She has achieved serenity and will hopefully rest in peace. (a great ending; compare that to some where Albrecht scoops Giselle in his arms and carries her to the grave.)

Wiles 'Myrtha' had no mystery or authority; it was no great achievement for Giselle to confront this Myrtha. I expected more from a Principal dancer. (Especially after seeing Veronika Part's Myrtha last year) The role of Myrtha is a lot more than high jumps. I realize I have said nothing about Malakov who was a fine Albrecht. Alicia Alonso is quoted as saying that Act 2 of 'Giselle' is all about Albrecht. It wasn't that way last night; Vishneva dominated the stage and the evening completely.

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I forgot to add: the Peasant pdd was very well performed by Abrera and Savaliev.

After Giselle saves Albrecht, she avoids physical contact with him. With Albrecht lying on the ground she rises and goes towards the grave; he goes after her and she crosses her arms across her breast and backs away from him, avoiding his entreating arms. She has achieved serenity and will hopefully rest in peace.

I didn't see it that way at all. She acted like a magical spirit that breathes life into him. She stretched her long arms around him, and then she pulled his arms up as if to tell him, "You're alive." He lifts her for the final time (one of the best moments of all of classical ballet). Finally, as she backs away, she gives him a flower, as a final sign of her love. If only the ABT had allowed her to descend into the grave, as a final sign of serenity.

I could write till I'm blue in the face about all the ways Vishneva/Malakhov were great, but really, you had to be there. Just watching them "mirror jump" at exactly the same level, was thrilling. Both of them have an ability to remain suspended in the air. Diana Vishneva is a great Giselle, and Vladimir Malakhov a great Albrecht, but the two of them have a great partnership and that is what I saw last night.

I only wish Part could have been Myrtha. Then the performance might have been absolutely perfect.

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Finally, as she backs away, she gives him a flower, as a final sign of her love. If only the ABT had allowed her to descend into the grave, as a final sign of serenity.

After she gave him the flower, he goes back to center stage and picks up the set of lilies that had been left on the ground, and goes back towards the grave. Then, backing away from the cross, he scatters those lilies till he is left with one last lily, the one she gave to him. Drops it and collapses.

Not so long ago this production had a better farewell by Giselle. After her return to the grave, he approached it and she, from on high (She, freed from the Purgatory of Vengance, had risen), gently showered him with a final Benediction of lilies. I'd rather see this ending restored than demand a new production: remember what this A. D. did to Swan Lake.

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I had the great fortune of seeing Diana Vishneva dance the role with Angel Corella last year. While Angel was his normal spritely self, I much preferred Diana's pairing with Malakhov. Both of them are great storytellers and connected in a way that Angel and Diana didn't.

Compared to last year, Diana's mad scene has definitely improved. Last year I was like, "She's not mad, she's drunk." This year, she was believably mad.

A great highlight for me was the peasant pas de deux by Stella Abrera and Gennadi Saveliev. Either they've practiced this for ages, or they just really connect with each other. The moves were so coordinated that it really was like a flowing conversation between two likeminded people. All their steps were secure and precise, especially Gennadi's double tour en air's. Stella is someone whom I feel would really be better at NYCB. Her straight back and precise positions are tailor-made for Balanchine, and I think acting is more of a challenge for her than it is for someone like Irina Dvorovenko. That's not to say that she didn't do the role justice, but just that if she were at NYCB, I feel like she really could be one of the company's best in some of the Balanchine roles.

I just don't understand why Michele Wiles is a principal dancer. Know when someone has so little personality that it actually makes him or her look like s/he has a slightly off-putting personality? I wouldn't go quite that far with Michele, but it's awfully tempting when you compare her to some of her colleagues at ABT. Granted, I've yet to see her in a lead role, but from the three times that I have seen her dance, she didn't leave me begging for more. Her Myrta lacked the defiant command of Part. She didn't look like a confident no-nonsense leader to me. Moreover, she tends to have these spastic and jerky head movements at the end of move sequences. And anyone think she looks like a combination of Tonya Harding and Miranda from Sex and the City?

The production itself didn't adequately contrast the living and the dead Giselles. In the second act, Giselle just walked onto the stage nonchalantly from the side rather than rising up to join the Wilis in the afterlife. Such a shame, as McKenzie had at his disposal perhaps the most elegantly dramatic Giselle/Albrecht pairing in ballet today.

Despite these complaints, I left the theatre feeling so lucky to have been able to watch Vishneva and Malakhov dance with such soul. This will be a performance that I'll remember for a long time.

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Just a few notes and responses to Tomatonose:

Stella Abrera is an excellent actress. Her tiny, fearsome Myrtha was scarier than Gillian, Michele or Veronika's. She has done the leads in some miniature one-act story ballets by Fokine, Tudor, Ashton etc. and is always spot on in her mime. Stella is a very good dramatic interpreter and also gives evocative performances in plotless ballets. She creates an atmosphere which is good in any ballet especially Balanchine.

Michele Wiles actually would make a great NYCB dancer as she has the Balanchine body (she does an excellent T&V) and a perky All-American personality that would fit in with their aesthetic. Michele actually is very enjoyable as a sunny Medora in "Le Corsaire" and may eventually be a fun Kitri in "Don Quixote". I have seen her do Myrtha in previous seasons and she mimed and interpreted the role better before. It isn't a natural fit for her despite her height.

I actually thought that Angel's "Giselle" last year with Vishneva showed some interpretive changes. With Ashley Tuttle's passionate Giselle he was a young, impetuous thoughtless boy who made a big mistake. His Albrecht last year was more of a cad and more calculating (the truly unforgiveable sin in betrayal) than previously. Also, if you remember last Spring many male dancers were injured or on the sick list including Malakhov, Stiefel (up to the last two weeks of the season) and others I forget (Marcelo was injured after the Spring season). The Corella/Vishneva pairing was a very last minute substitution and they had very few rehearsals together. Considering how well they did and how good they looked together, I consider that a great achievement. Naturally, Malakhov and Vishneva have danced together in "Giselle' in Germany and Japan and who knows where else many times, their partnership is honed to perfection.

One more note on Wednesday night - did anyone else notice that Vladimir forgot to reach for his scabbard in the fight with Hilarion (the sword that isn't there and tips Hilarion off about "Loys" actual social status)? Sascha had to kind of improvise a funny reaction.

Faux Pas

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I actually thought that Angel's "Giselle" last year with Vishneva showed some interpretive changes. With Ashley Tuttle's passionate Giselle he was a young, impetuous thoughtless boy who made a big mistake. His Albrecht last year was more of a cad and more calculating (the truly unforgiveable sin in betrayal) than previously. Also, if you remember last Spring many male dancers were injured or on the sick list including Malakhov, Stiefel (until the end of the season) and others I forget (Marcelo was injured after the Spring season). The Corella/Vishneva pairing was a very last minute substitution and they had very few rehearsals together. Considering how well they did and how good they looked together, I consider that a great achievement.

I have to respectfully disagree with you about Corella's Albrecht. I had no problem with his dancing per se, or his partnering of Vishneva. Corella is rather short, but Vishneva is petite enough that they did not look awkward together, either. I had an issue with Corella's interpretation. I think Albrecht calls for an interpretive deepness that right now Corella doesn't have. He looked alternately detatched and hammy, which is what I thought of his Siegfried also. I think Malakhov could have danced Albrecht with anyone and he would have been Corella's superior, simply because he understands the role better. JMO. I've heard Giselle called the Hamlet of ballets, and I tend to agree. I think Corella came up short in this role.

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Just a few notes and responses to Tomatonose:

Stella Abrera is an excellent actress. Her tiny, fearsome Myrtha was scarier than Gillian, Michele or Veronika's. She has done the leads in some miniature one-act story ballets by Fokine, Tudor, Ashton etc. and is always spot on in her mime. Stella is a very good dramatic interpreter and also gives evocative performances in plotless ballets. She creates an atmosphere which is good in any ballet especially Balanchine.

Faux Pas

Wow, I agree on Abrera! I make it a point to catch as many of her performances as possible. While her first couple of performances in any role can look studied and very concentrated (the exception to that being Faun at City Center which blew me away), she is extraordinary after getting a few under her belt. I prefer her Myrta over everyone else's, including Part. Abrera's charachter is clearly defined and is, as Faux Pas says, scary - and I would add unforgiving.

Given her expansive talent in a variety of styles, I would expect her to be the next inside promotion to principal.

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Welcome to Ballet Talk, Haglund's!

We hope you'll introduce yourself on our Welcome Forum (by clicking "New Topic" in the upper right corner of the page).

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Wow, I just read Joel Lobenthal's review of the Vishneva/Malakhov Giselle in the Sun (from today's links). I usually agree with his reviews but this time I disagree with just about everything except his praise of Radetsky! Like most of the posters here, I thought they were wonderful...

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Wow, I just read Joel Lobenthal's review of the Vishneva/Malakhov Giselle in the Sun (from today's links). I usually agree with his reviews but this time I disagree with just about everything except his praise of Radetsky! Like most of the posters here, I thought they were wonderful...

nysusan

Wow is right, I was pretty surprised too.

"Her shoulders often looked clenched, and in Act II, her movement was sometimes thick where it should have been diaphanous".

I didn't see it that way at all. But I guess that's what makes horse races.

Richard

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Friday June 16. Julio Bocca was Albrecht and Xiomara Reyes was Giselle. Julio was captivating from the moment he came on stage. I wish he had given his sword to Wilfred--it was sort of glossed over. It was not on Albrecht at all early. So when Wilfred discovers it later there is no reference point. Oh, Julio danced beautifully--his leaps and turns and his acting were just superb. Xiomara was good as Giselle--I last saw her in Chicago in Rodeo--she is so tiny! She was very endearing as the girlish Giselle. The toe hops and attitude turns were beautiful in Act 1. The mad scene was not my favorite--her face was a little harsh and I sure wish Berthe didn't have to take down her hair so obviously. But we have been through that before. Why can't the hairpiece be fastened to the necklace so that when Giselle rips it off her hair comes down?

I also preferred the Royal Ballet's version of miming for Berthe, and loved how in the mad scene Giselle kept curtsying whenever she bumped into Bathilde. That was missing in this production.

One of Giselle's friends tripped on her skirt but recovered nicely.

I loved that they had the Kirov peasant pas variation for the woman (Maria Riccetto)--unusual. Sascha Radetsky was the man and was great but the magic just wasn't there for me.

In Act 2, the clock struck 12 before the curtain opened..a little unusual. Gillian was a fabulous Myrthe. Her bourres were silken. The veils on her and the early-appearing Wilis are great--not seen in every variation. And I love that the wings were not hard little knobby things fastened to the waist. I like Gillian best in this role, not as Giselle.

I thought Xiomara and Julio did beautifully in the second act. I held my breath a little in the angel lifts, which I never did when Julio was dancing with Alessandra. Don't know what that was about.

The music was labeled "orchestrated by John Lanchberry" and I have to say his version is not my favorite, especially the way he changes the melody of Albrecht's entrance in Act 2.

Oh, and at the end, Giselle makes the "I give my heart to you forever" mime motion (index and middle finger extended at the end of the straight right arm) to Albrecht and he mimes it back to her. I was in tears.

The Act 2 staging was beautiful--it looks as though there is a lake in the background; and as the clock strikes 4 to get the Wilis off stage, the lighting was subtly changed to be very dawn-like. Ahh, what an experience!

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Just back from the most moving Giselle I have ever seen.

I'll try to write a full review tomorrow or later, but here is what needs to be said for everyone who did not see it tonight (perhaps people up in the balconies missed this too):

As Giselle (Xiomara Reyes) descended back into her grave, Julio Bocca began to fumble with the white lillies strewn over the cross. Then he dropped to his knee and began fumbling with something on the floor. As I inched upwards in my seat to see what was going on, I saw that he was taking off his slippers. People around me, all in tears, began whispering in shock- Julio stood up and placed his shoes at the feet of the grave, and walked slowly off stage into the last wing on stage left, in just tights.

The curtain dropped and there was what seemed like an eternal silence before the entire orchestra audience stood up even before the curtain was raised for the first curtain call.

It did not look planned at all- it was almost the natural thing to do. It seemed as if he was doing it for himself, marking the end of an era, not for anyone else. As he walked off, he looked up into the lights and then into the wings.

As the curtain came up, Julio (visibly emotional) had his arm around Xiomara, and the ovation was defeaning.

Amidst all the flowers raining down, there was a note. The ever-spontaneous Bocca picked it up, read it, then signaled to his secret admirer out in the audience that he'd be expecting a call and mouthed "call me"- it was hilarious and bittersweet, and he ran off. The audience kept wanting more and more.

As for Reyes, of course it would have been glorious in more ways than one if Bocca danced his last Giselle with his Giselle of twenty years, Alessandra Ferri, but never have I seen anyone more devoted to and loving of her Albrecht.

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All these reports sound wonderful, I’m sorry I missed both Bocca/Reyes Giselles. The only ABT Giselle I caught this season was the Vishneva/Malakhov and I loved it.

I HATE the ABT production. I hate how Giselle just walks on and offstage in Act 2, with no descent into the ground. That is one of my favorite moments of the ballet, because to me its a sign that Giselle has fought and won against the Wilis. She descends into the grave, haiving saved Albrecht. She is at peace. With the ABT production, I'd like to ask Kevin McKenize: where does Giselle go? Ugh. I also dislike Act 1 intensely, with two huge brown mud slabs that frame and crowd the stage needlessly.

canbelto - Please, please, please don’t give McKenzie any ideas about staging a new Giselle! This one may not be perfect but it’s pretty good and I shudder to think what he’d have in store for us if he got to stage a new one!

Wow, I just read Joel Lobenthal's review of the Vishneva/Malakhov Giselle in the Sun (from today's links). I usually agree with his reviews but this time I disagree with just about everything except his praise of Radetsky! Like most of the posters here, I thought they were wonderful...

nysusan

Wow is right, I was pretty surprised too.

"Her shoulders often looked clenched, and in Act II, her movement was sometimes thick where it should have been diaphanous".

I didn't see it that way at all. But I guess that's what makes horse races.

Richard

That is certainly true, but I didn’t see anything like what he saw. I’m not quite sure I saw what Rockwell saw last year, either. I don’t think I agree 100% with Rockwell’s assessment last year that Vishneva’s Giselle was “so incontestably great that all whining about past golden ages can happily be laid to rest” but those golden ages were so long ago and this was certainly the finest Giselle I’ve seen since those days. I’ve been meaning to post a few thoughts about that performance, and this seems like a good time to do it.

Let’s start with Malakhov, because he really surprised me. I was hoping to go to the Vishneva/Corella Giselle and was disappointed when I realized that I’d be seeing her with Malakhov. I’d forgotten how often they dance together, and how well they know each other. His dancing was beautiful, as I expected, but I didn’t expect him to present so fine a characterization. The most striking thing to me about the performance was how in sync they were with each other, as others have pointed out. Physically their timing, line, the coordinated height of their jumps – those are details that we just don’t see anymore, they are rare even in long time partnerships. I also loved the fact that he & Vishneva had such great chemistry together and really played off each other dramatically. They didn’t seem studied or over thought to me, the drama flowed and I thought it seemed very spontaneous. One touch I loved was how, in the 2nd act he often stared straight ahead instead of looking at Vishneva. It’s a small detail but an important one, it makes dramatic sense because she’s a spirit now and though he can feel her presence he really can’t see much but fleeting glimpses of her. I thought it was very effective.

I think I may see where Lobenthal got the idea about ‘Vishneva’s personal desire to encapsulate the combined impact of every interpreter of the role since Carlotta Grisi…”, but I had a completely different take on it. Usually, in the first act each ballerina emphasizes one aspect of Giselles personality. She’s either the robust peasant girl, or she’s painfully shy, or demure or flirtatious. Early in the first act I was startled to realize that Vishneva’s Giselle combines all of those traits! I felt that she presented a fully integrated portrait of Giselle as a complex and rich character. Her Giselle was painfully shy at first, but also joyous and bursting with love for Albrecht. At times she was defiant, at times passionate. I thought she was totally believable & absolutely fabulous. I saw a multidimensional character, not stagy effects. The other thing that really struck me about Vishneva’s interpretation is something I remember someone else mentioning last year – just how much her Giselle loves to dance. Of course, all Giselles love to dance, but Vishneva really emphasized it in her early 1st act solos and went back to it in her mad scene. About 2/3 of the way through she started dancing wildly, throwing herself into it and then was suddenly exhausted and clutching her heart. This Giselle actually danced herself to death! She carried the theme through to her 2nd act, too. I don’t remember exactly where, but at some point in the pas de deux she started to really dance wildly, with total abandon for a moment. She was wonderfull in her own right but together she and Malakhov were just amazing, and heartbreaking.

re: Michelle Wiles as Myrtha - I thought she was doing a pretty good job early on in her variation, I liked the way she finished a phrase with a sharp ending and I thought those jerky head movements fit in well here. But then during the grand jetes she had that big grin on her face that peite arabesque mentioned - it completely undermined her performance, I don't know what she could have been thinking.

I thought Abrera and Saveliev were great in the peasant pas de deux, but while I loved her phrasing and romantic epaulment it kind of disturbed me that she was so...aristocratic. I guess i"m used to a more earthy approach.

I just saw Pavlenko & Kolb in the Kirov’s Giselle tonight and Pavlenko was almost the opposite of Vishneva. While also gorgeous & with amazing technique hers was a very traditional Giselle, modest & demure. None of the fiery passion of Vishneva!

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Last night's Giselle was so special. Reyes gave a wonderful performance - so charming

in the first act - so ethereal in the second. Bocca's final Albrecht was technically as

strong as his first must have been. From his first entrance in Act II it was apparent

he was going to say farewell to us as well as to Giselle. He stood center stage and

gazed out at the audience, his head and eyes moving from the orchestra up to the

balconies and down again. We were thus transformed into participants in this sad

farewell. It must have been my imagination but I think the music became slower -

Xiomara was more reluctant to leave him - the final flower dropped at his feet.

After he placed the flower on her grave he ceremoniously took off his slippers

and left them on the stage. This Albrecht was not left on his knees as the curtain

fell - but stood proudly, turned away and slowly walked off the stage........

Life, Love and Loss - Everything is at the Ballet.

Thank you, Julio - :blink::flowers::flowers:

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Diana and Angel

In tonight's Giselle Diana Vishneva was absolutely a different Giselle than she was with Vladimir. I think I know why, but I'd rather wait to read whether anyone else noticed this change, or it is just an "eye-of-the-beholder" thing. In common for the two Giselles were the multidimensional personality of her character and Diana's amazing "full-body" dancing: which I feel has a lot to do with how she creates the character complexity--she dances it in rather than acting it. I really hope one of the experts who've been contributing to the thread on epaulement (or anyone else!) has seen her Giselle and can say something about her use of epaulement. I wonder if this process, which adds so much to the physical dimensionality of dancing, is also intended as a way to flesh out (add dimension to) characterization. When the legs were here the shoulders were there, where they should be, and the endless arms and the head accordingly, but this was all in one unending twisting flow through the whole second act. It was sublimely beautiful.

Whatever, it sure beats acting for me.

Focusing just on the technical aspect of Angel Corella's partnering, his lifts of Diana were incredibly perfect, not just qua lift, but because he enabled the absolute continuity of flow of Diana's weavings through space. He kept her spell unbroken.

It was very peculiar to cast Veronika Part as Zulma in a Vishneva Giselle. Somehow I felt that someone might be wanting to dis her.

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… Diana's amazing "full-body" dancing: which I feel has a lot to do with how she creates the character complexity--she dances it in rather than acting it

Absolutely, I love how Diana creates the character and expresses emotion through her dancing, which is critical. Dancers who try to Act It miss the point. But I think she also acts it, and beautifully. Sounds like I missed a great one!

I HATE the ABT production. I hate how Giselle just walks on and offstage in Act 2, with no descent into the ground. That is one of my favorite moments of the ballet, because to me its a sign that Giselle has fought and won against the Wilis. She descends into the grave, haiving saved Albrecht. She is at peace. With the ABT production, I'd like to ask Kevin McKenize: where does Giselle go? Ugh. I also dislike Act 1 intensely, with two huge brown mud slabs that frame and crowd the stage needlessly.

canbelto – FYI – In the 2nd act of the Kirov version Giselle comes & goes by walking offstage the same way she does in ABT’s version (at least on this tour – they may do something different at the Mariinsky). I’ve never seen a live Giselle where she rises up thru a trap door or descends into the grave, though I’ve seen it on filmed versions and agree that it’s very effective. On the other hand the Kirov’s act 1 is much less cluttered and brighter than ABT’s. The dancing is more classical ( the patterns for the corps) yet I miss some of the dramatic touches of ABT’s version – like Giselle being crowned queen of the harvest or the peasant pas being danced as a diversion for the visiting Royals – in the Kirov version it is danced after the hunting party leaves

Susan

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canbelto – FYI – In the 2nd act of the Kirov version Giselle comes & goes by walking offstage the same way she does in ABT’s version (at least on this tour – they may do something different at the Mariinsky). I’ve never seen a live Giselle where she rises up thru a trap door or descends into the grave, though I’ve seen it on filmed versions and agree that it’s very effective.

I have a live video from the Kirov in which Giselle exits via the trap door, and two from the POB as well in which this happens. I suspect the Kirov doesnt have the trap door because it's on tour and the stage may not have a trap door to set this up. I have a dvd from the Tokyo Ballet with Vishneva/Malakhov which also uses the trapped door. I think it's much much more effective than having Giselle simply walking offstage. Having her walk offstage gives the mistaken impression that she's still a Wili. But having her descend into the grave drives home the point that she is now at peace, having saved Albrecht.

As for Diana's "full-bodied" dancing, I agree. Having only seen her Giselle on video I had no idea of her enormous elevation, something Karsavina always mentioned as being particularly important for Giselle. Even her bunny hops seemed to rise in the air effortlessly. When she first enters Act 2 and does those frantic turned arabesques she also gave the impression of a jet propeller about to take off.

One thing she does that is particularly effective at the end: as she lifts Albrecht's arm, she looks towards the heavens, as if to say that she is out of purgatory.

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