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My First Review: Giselle


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Three friends and I went to see Giselle today. This was the first professional ballet I have seen since the Nutcracker in 4th grade (1991). It was lovely. The corps was beautiful during the second act, and performed well during the first act. The forms and lines were superb during the second act, and the first act had a truly lively feeling. The arabesque's performed while hopping in lines of three (not sure what the name was) were beautiful, with emphasis on the same height, rather than showing off individual flexibility.

My absolute favorite part was Myrthra's (which I am sure I spelled wrong) bourree entrance in act II. She was so quick and light it was truly as though she was floating. The woman who danced Giselle (Christine something??? It was a substitution) was wonderful and played a beautiful peasant, but really shined in the second act. She had such an airy feeling to her and a beautiful line.

Having never seen hops on pointe, I was eagerly awaiting Giselle's solo, but found the frequent ballotte and the pas ballonne she performed to be much more pleasing to watch. Perhaps that is because as a dancer I can't seem to perfect these steps and seeing them with such grace was fantastic.

The only part I disliked was Giselle's mother's mime about her dream. It was so short, all I got from it was "bad dream" and had I not known the story, it would have been hard to understand. (Of course, if I didn't think to research the story, I probably wouldn't know enough about ballet to understand the mime.) Giselle's disappearance at the end of act II was slightly hampered by my imagination, which rather than seeing her disappearing into the daylight imagined a stage hand yanking her off the stage.

I went to the matinee, and there were a lot of children, but all very well behaved. There were a few whispers during the second act of "which one is he." But all very short, something to be expected of children. The women behind me (who did not have children) chatted the whole show... which really upset me.

The theatre was beautiful and our seats were great. I had brought binoculars with me, but they focused to tightly and were not very helpful. I did peek through them to see the expressions in the mad scene. The "hair down" convention was lost on the chatty ladies behind me. They thought the dancer had just knocked her hair down carelessly.

This does not have to do with the ballet, but instead, Ballet Met. I ordered tickets online 3 weeks before the show, and after 2 weeks had not recieved them. I called Monday morning, and the man I spoke to on the phone said he would reissue and send those. By this Friday I still hadn't recieved them so I called again, and the tickets were placed at will call. The box office manager also gave me his cell phone number in case I ran into any problems. They were very easy to pick up, and when we picked them up the tickets were for Loge, rather than lower mezzanine. I was disappointed that I did not recieve the tickets, but I am very happy with the customer service at the box office when I called to get the reissues.

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I attended the same performance and echo everything posted above. The substitution for Giselle was Christine Mangia. Her technique was very pure and she has an exquisite line. I was quite impressed.

In terms of Act I, it seemed a little too condensed for me. Even the large waltz for Giselle's friends (normally 12 of them I believe?) was cut, as well as much of the miming, etc. It was definately rushed. The quick development between Giselle's entrance and the mad scene, would have made me wonder why she was going mad (if it was my first exposure to Giselle).

I agree that Act II was beautiful. The corps was very well rehearsed. I was a little disturbed by Myrta. She seemed to severe. Her facial expression should have been commanding - but she seemed to lean more towards "possessed" then "commanding". Again, Christine Mangia was breathtaking as Giselle (particularly here in Act II). She should be featured more, and could easily hold her own in a larger company.

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Thanks for the reviews. Some of my best experiences with Giselle have been with deeply committed smaller companies, and I'm glad BalletMet is in that category.

Here's a Link to the BalletMet website for those who might want to find out more.

BalletMet website

I've often thought that what makes American ballet unique in today's world is not the existence of a few great companies -- other countries have those -- but the creativity, passion and atistry of our many, many smaller regional and local companies, as well as the fine dancers and production people who work in them.

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