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GISELLE: June 12-17

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...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....

... 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? ...


Perhaps what I meant by "dancing, not acting", is acting from (actually English here could stand a word that was all prepositions) the dancing, and that some of it, the fleshing out of the character comes from her epaulement fleshing out the body, and twisting and weaving through time translating into nuanced, sweaping emotion.

The Saturday Act I was more acted than Wednesday's first Act. She was much more the young rather innocent village girl: as she danced for Albrecht her looks toward him were glances to see if she were gaining his approval, pleasing Angel. Near the end of the great variation where she first looks at him, then symmetrically repeats the steps toward her mother, she did the choreography straight: seeking approval of each. She's a young girl who loves to dance, and earns approval with it. With Vladimir she'd used the look toward him to send a yearning message instead, and when ending the repeated move toward her mother her head twisted back toward him, the surprising change of direction seemingly just as properly dancy --her epaulement? --expressing the unconditionality of her love with Albrecht. As regards your wonderful observation earlier in this thread regarding the earlier Giselle

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.

as she was sending this deeper message of the heart toward Malakhov in Act I, his gaze seemed diverted into space: as so much of Act I is a type of what is to be in Act II, here Malakhov anticipated for us what would be in Act II: it became a sign of something to look for in Act II, as you did!

Why the more traditional approach to Act I on Saturday? I'd say it was about the partner; not how they had distinctly different partnering or acting styles, it was more about Vladimir than Angel. As she has said of Malakhov, she is a half-soul and he is her missing half a soul, and together they are whole. The touch of his hand to her sleeve and her response early in Act I that signaled that theirs was already a profound love, meant for me that I was watching one dancer, dancing through two bodies. On Saturday I was watching two great dancers in two bodies, the normal way that people or souls occupy bodies. The famous Malakhov backbends were just one way that the two half-souls were one, his whole-body style of dancing made their respective "dance-acting" that of one soul speaking as one voice. Both men, after their respective fashions, understood that they existed by the grace of, and to serve, Giselle. And isn't that part of the lesson they were supposed to learn?

Entrances and exits. Saturday Diana made the most of her Act II walk-on. At first she stood still at the grave, surveying the scene. This is not where she expected to be. Her strength of character, her courage allowed her to walk slowly into the scene, slowly but not tentatively. Her wili spins were as much her own power as the power of the wilis taking command of her spirit. The unbreaking momentum of her dance powered her to victory, which was a victory for the wilis too, one of liberation. (Last year Part as Wili Queen showed this with an expression of transcendent bliss as sunlight burst the walls of what had been her spiritual prison.) Giselle's exit was again only backing off stage. But the dancer playing Albrecht evidently can make his own exit. We've read of Bocca's version, signalling his exit from Giselle as well from Giselle. Angel left Diana very differently from how Vladimir left her (as described earlier in this thread). He received his parting single flower from Giselle. This time the lilies pile was at the grave rather than center stage. But he did not care about them. Just the one from her. Holding it to his heart Angel simply turned to the audience, walked toward us as that last lily weighed on him, slowly lowering down away from his heart.

Oh, and as Giselle had backed toward (into?) her grave, and was slipping from sight, a hand could be seen guiding her by the waist. After dancing like that, she deserved a better funeral.

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While we are praising Vishneva, I will say I agree with everything that has been said about her. I did not get to see her with Malakhov, sorry to say, but oh my, she was lovely on Saturday evening. She seemed to melt during the angel lifts in the second act--it was breathtaking. And was that a double turn she did on the pickup pdb in her toe-hop solo in Act 1?

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I attended the Saturday evening perfromance, June 17th. First of all, this was a very emotional performance for me. This is the first time that I attended the ballet since my Mother died in April. I used to take Mom to the ballet. In fact, we had tickets for Giselle (the Julie Kent/Julio Bocca performance) last year. Mom had to be hospitalized a few days before we were supposed to go (she had a bad reaction to her chemotherapy). She insisted that I go that night and I remember calling her in the hospital at intermission and telling her how wonderful it was.

Saturday night, I took my best friend with me. I loved last year's performance with Julie Kent and Julio Bocca. But last night was just extraordinary. My only complaint was the Peasant Pas de Deux. Last year, I saw this part danced by Herman Cornejo and Xiomara Reyes and it was brilliant! Last night, with Erica Cornejo and Gennadi Saveliev was OK. It was good, but just not given the pizzazz that it could have been. Cornejo looked a little shaky on some of her turns and finishing poses.

Again, (sorry to keep comparing!) last year I saw Gillian Murphy as Myrta. Her dancing was wondeful, but I felt that she was not intimidating enough as the Queen of the Wilis. Last night Michele Wiles was a much scarier Myrta, but once or twice she was a little off from the rest of the Wili corps. But overall, dancing and acting, she was a very effective Myrta.

Diana Vishneva - :dunno: What an absolutely stunning performance! She made me cry several times during the night. She was so heartbreaking in her innocence in Act I and so loving and forgiving in Act II. And that was just what she displayed with her acting and miming talents. Her dancing was so wonderful! And no matter how difficult the steps, I just knew she was going to be superb. Her technique - her artistry - her presence - and her beauty combined to make this an unforgettable night.

Angel Corella :) I have seen Angel Corella dance before with Alexandra Ansanelli, Julie Kent, and (on television) Gillian Murphy, but his partnering of Vishneva was magnificent. First of all, he is such a good danseur in his own right. He excelled in his own solo numbers and was the perfect partner to Vishneva. When he lifted her in the air, Vishneva made these beautiful arcs with her legs and arms. I am going to steal a line I read on this board a few months ago. Their Act II Pas de Deux was "meltingly lovely". Once more, we have an Albrecht who prevents Albrecht from becoming the bad guy in the story. The real bad guy was Hilarion (who last night was played by Sascha Radetsky).

Diana and Angel got 5 curtain calls last night! What an extraordianry evening! I think this will rank as one of the great Giselles in the history of the ABT. And I would love to see another pairing of these two great dancers.

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Diana and Angel got 5 curtain calls last night! What an extraordianry evening! I think this will rank as one of the great Giselles in the history of the ABT. And I would love to see another pairing of these two great dancers.


The Met website for ABT has the two of them paired in Romeo & Juliet on July 10


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In the New Yorker Joan Acocella discusses Diana Vishneva's "Giselle". Ms. Acocella has some rather different ideas about the nature the character than I do, but I definitely share her sentiments about Diana Vishneva's abilities. Two quotes below.

"Diana Vishneva, a principal dancer at the Kirov Ballet and at American Ballet Theatre, once told Francis Mason, of Ballet Review, that in any ballet she always tried to find “a particular thing that allows me to know what I am doing with the role, not just to do it beautifully.” She needed, she said, to find her own “secret.”

"Her versatility is huge. So is her scale. She has the hundred-and-eighty-degree extension that ballerinas, worldwide, now cultivate, but she uses it for dance purposes—to carve the air, broaden the arc—rather than for the merely visual purpose, so strange and fundamentally vulgar, of raising the foot to the ear. Also, she has the celebrated Kirov back. When she turns around, you can see all the movement emanating from the lumbar spine. But you don’t have to see it. Always, you can feel that generator working, and this gives the movement force and unity, which read as spiritual qualities—the body as soul."


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...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....

There is a photo of this at:


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