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PNB Giselle

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I suspect this was filmed at the dress rehearsal, the first time the dancers worked with the orchestra. I saw the Saturday night performance, and it didn't looked yelled from where I was sitting in the Gallery Upper, which is fairly close to the stage. Some things did on Opening Night, which was the first performance with orchestra for that cast, too, from the secondary characters. It took until Saturday afternoon for the tempos to set and for the performances to look synced.

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Lesley Rausch debuted as Giselle last night, and she was exquisite. Her Albrecht, Batkhurel Bold, was the first of the PNB Albrecht's to be a genteel man in love with Giselle. Until then, the Albrechts were on the caddish end of the spectrum.

Rausch's second performance will be this Saturday afternoon, which is a non-subscription performance and a great chance to get seats usually taken by subscribers.

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I saw the performance last night too, and completely agree with Helene....Leslie delivered big time in her debut as Giselle. Her musicality and grace (especially her arms) never cease to amaze me. For me, there is only one element in the "needs improvement" category for Leslie -- I'd like to see her "connect" more directly with the audience. You're great Leslie (easy for me to say as I self-describe myself as her #1 fan :)), relax into that and allow us, the audience, to be up on that stage with you.......let us in. We love your exquisite dancing (to use Helene's word). You're there now, you've reached the heights, so be there.

I encourage everyone to take Helene's advise and go on Saturday afternoon....but go in any case to see this wonderfully alive production.

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Well I did go see the Saturday afternoon 2nd week performance with Rausch / Gold and I concur it was a great performance! It's been 2 days and I hope my memories are not too rusty in this review.

First - however, please permit me to apologize for my faux pas regarding Ms. Eames career plans. I was typing quickly and trying to get all my thoughts down and crossed hairs on my memory that she had danced Tharpe in Texas recently - somehow I erred in thinking this was a step towards joining Tharpe's troupe.

Back to the performance, Rausch was charming in the first act, her solo hops were lovely. An interesting note: neither she nor Rachel Foster turn their free leg towards Loys in this version. In most Cuban and Russian versions, Giselle does turn her free leg towards Loys as part of the choreography and to demonstrate both her dance abilities and flirtation.

Hilarian was Jeffrey Stanton, who was technically excellent. I sat in the 2nd balcony for this performance (alas, my funding for choice seats has limits), so acting and facial expressions were more difficult to make out. Even from a distance, I still hate the fur collar on his costume, it looks like a mangy reject from a muppet. I thought Rausch had more control in the second act than Foster on the adagio moves, and I felt her pantomime was well done throughout. Myrtha was the Lindsi Dec (tall girl) and I was very happy with her characterization of the cold hearted queen of the Wilis.

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This time I was able to attend the post-performance with Peter Boal, Lesley Rausch and Bakhurel Bold. This was a gold mine of non essential but fascinating information!

Costumes: The Giselle Act 1 peasant costume was too small to fit any of PNB's ballerinas, even Ms. Kauri Nakamura (who is a teeny wisp) was barely fitting and the closures were tight on her bodice. So the costume department made an entirely new (and entirely teal) dress for Giselle Act 1. The Wilis costumes in Act II, including their wings, are covered by an additional layer of white gauze. The Houston Ballet versions are a true green color, to apparently fit with the image of the Wilis as ghosts by night, but turning into a green plant (the precise type escapes me) by day. Mr. Boal wanted the PNB Wilis to look more like brides - hence the additional gauze.

Additional Choreography: Per Mr. Boal, his supplemental choreo mostly constisted of arm positions. Much of the notations focus on the feet, but give little instruction for the arms. But he stated his additions were very minor.

Dance Critics Association: They are in town and have seen many PNB performances, but also other groups (there is an additional dance festival this past weekend). The theme of their meeting was reconstruction, so meeting in Seattle to see 'Giselle' dovetailed nicely. There have been many workshops and they have visited rehearsals often. They had many questions for Mr. Boal and it was apparent they had a depth of knowledge of 'Giselle' that surpassed Mr Boal's. This association meets in NYC in even numbered years, and stages the conference in other cities in odd numbered years.

Box Office: The 2nd performance I attended seemed to be very full - perhaps 85-90%. Mr. Boal stated this performance is the only non-subscriber on the schedule, and they watch ticket sales closely. To hit their goal for this rep, PNB needed to sell $450,000 of tickets, which they achieved about 1 hour before this performance. Bravo! He credit good word of mouth and good reviews.

Dancer Details: Mr. Bold noted that his parents both danced 'Giselle' in his native Mongolia - his mother danced in the corps and the pas de deux and his father was a noted character dancer who specialized in Hilarion. Mongolian ballet was heavily influenced by their northern neighbors, especially in Soviet times. Mr. Bold was sent to Perm ballet, where he learned strictly orthodox Russian technique (no exceptions) for 7 years. He recalls seeing the Russian version of 'Giselle' countless times during his years there, and that it seemed a much simpler version, when compared to PNB's reconstruction. He seemed very tired, after dancing two 'Giselle' Albrechts, one Hilarion, and rehearsing multiple roles for the Season Encore on Sunday night. He noted this is his 15th year with PNB. Leslie Rausch joked around with a lot of her answers, mostly about how thrilled she was to get to dance 'Giselle' and looks forward to the opportunities in the 2011/2012 season.

Reprise of Giselle / Tour options: When asked about when we could see Giselle again, Mr. Boal responded he hoped every 3-5 years. He didn't want the piece to leave the dancers' muscle memory. He also noted PNB only tours when invited, and would be willing to tour Giselle. But he also stated this style is not PNB's main style, and he could only conceive of touring 'Giselle' as part of program that included other nights of Balanchine, Caniparoli, etc.

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The Summer 2011 issue of DanceView has a long article by Helene, summarizing the project and including performance reviews. DanceView is not available online, so I thought I'd post a single morsel from the piece tp give you an idea of what you will be missing if you don't locate a copy.

While not close to the original 1:1 mime:dance ratio, the additions were key in replacing the short-hand that passes for storytelling in many current productions. For Giselle's village is a noisy place. The characters ruminate, argue, bicker, explain, triangulate, flirt, blame, accuse, love, scare, question, invite, belittle, damn, curse, ask, demand, chastise, threaten, and tell stories, and, in the case of Giselle, tell people to stop: "Stop swearing!" "Stop lecturing!" "stop demanding!" They point emphatically in accusation, and they wag their fingers in warning: "You'll see." "You'll get yours.

I love it. :thumbsup:
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Helene is a brilliant writer. Being here in Seattle, I attended 4 of the Giselle performances. Helene captured the essence of what was presented, and even why it was presented, on our PNB stage. Not only do you learn a lot from Helene's reviews, as well as inspired by her insights, but also she can be very entertaining.....as bart's quote above demonstrates (yes, every one of those emotions and declarations she lists were mimed in this production)

Frankly, I think the NYT ought to give Helene a call occasionally!

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I'm just hoping by the end of this journey I have an iota of the insight of Alexandra, Leigh, rg, Alastair Macaulay, Marc Haegeman, Deborah Jowitt, Rita Feliciano, Mary Cargill, Michael Popkin, Sandi Kurtz, Doug Fullington, in his presentations and program notes... (And I'm going to have to edit this many times to add people that my sieve brain has forgotten at this moment.)

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PNB's "Giselle" is receiving "Best of 2011" and year-end summary accolades:

New York Times

"Best of" Slide Show

Grand Entrances and a Long Goodbye

In Seattle, Pacific Northwest Ballet staged a historically informed “Giselle” in June that at most points in the action drew from texts older than those we usually see and, revitalizingly, used brisker tempos than those we’ve been accustomed to hearing. On opening night the luminous Carla Körbes confirmed her place as one of the foremost ballerinas in America. The new-old steps were especially fascinating, but characterizations and dramatic connections were also transformed. Giselle herself was more outgoing, her rival Bathilde more touching, generous but guardedly correct; and Myrtha, queen of the spectral wilis (danced with exceptional skill by Carrie Imler on opening night) became a yet more complex role, as in love with dancing as Giselle herself.

Pointe Magazine

.pdf file:


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