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Giselle - Spring 2014

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This was the first time I saw Cojocaru - don't get me wrong I loved Vishneva/Gomes when she did the hops en pointe and traveled all the way across stage a foot at a time and then pointedly

made the last circle from the knee so very emphatically as if to say yes I can! my neighbor and I both sighted in audible delight. There were moments in Vishneva performance that gave me goose bumps. As for the mad secne however I thought she died three times, Alina fell to the floor differently each time you had no doubt when she was dead.

So no question if you analyze step by step Cojocaru will have weaknesses however her musicality, accessibility, pure love of dancing is to me just gripping.

I feel as if Vishneva in all perfection and languorous movements- so beautiful - dances from her sensuality, she luxuriates, sometimes maybe too much even - Alina dances from the heart, she is tender and lyrical I just do not know how to define the quality of her dancing - i doubt you could say one is better than the other - they are just different both great artists.

I felt so very very privileged to see both of these performances...

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I've seen some Giselles during the Act I hop on pointe actually change direction from forward to left, and then back to forward, in order to point the free leg at Albrecht and interact with hm in a more direct manner as Albrecht is sitting on the bench at stage left. The change in direction is very difficult, and nobody at ABT did it this season. I'm thinking maybe Dvorovenko used to to do it, but I'm not sure.

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I was also at the Saturday evening performance of Giselle.

On Saturday evening Giselle is portrayed by guest artist Alina Cojocaru. It is a captivating performance. Cojocaru’s Giselle is a very young innocent girl. She is a believable peasant who loves dancing, her mother and especially Albrecht who she knows as Loys. Her mad scene is simple but real. In Act II Cojocaru is ethereal and weightless. She still loves Albrecht but in an otherworldly way. With regard to her dancing Cojocaru stands out for her lovely light leaps and fast turns. She may not perform as many hops on pointe as some Giselles, but hers are well done.

David Hallberg’s (replacing Herman Cornejo) Albrecht does love Giselle in this other world of his where he is a peasant, not a count. He does not think about the consequences his behavior will have on Giselle. By the end of Act II Hallberg’s Albrecht realizes that he truly loves Giselle and that he will never find anyone who loves him the way Giselle does. I don’t understand why Hallberg drops the daisy given to him by Cojocaru’s Giselle at the very end of the ballet. When I saw Hallberg perform the role of Albrecht in both 2011 and 2012, he breathed in the scent of the flower, feeling his oneness with Giselle for a final time. That (in my opinion) was better than just dropping the daisy.

Hallberg’s dancing, as always, is awe inspiring. He stands out for his double air turns and his soaring leaps with the softest of landings. At Saturday’s evening performance of ‘Giselle’ Hallberg chose to perform brise voles – jumps where one legs beats against the other – instead of entrechat sixes – where he soars into the air and hangs suspended there. Hallberg’s brises are well done, but for a dancer Hallberg’s size entrechat sixes are more effective. The entrechat sixes Hallberg performed as Albrecht in 2011 and 2012 were absolutely spellbinding.

As good as Cojocaru and Hallberg are separately, together they are magical. Considering the height difference it is amazing how in sync Cojocaru and Hallberg are. Their side by side leaps danced in both Acts I and II show off this fact. Their chemistry in Act I is very real and natural. In Act II it is celestial, even spiritual.

Stella Abrera is an icy and forbidding Myrtha with a vengefully high leap. Seeing Abrera’s Myrtha makes me wonder about her back story. How badly did her lover treat her in order to turn her into such an intimidating queen of the willis?

Jared Matthews is a very sympathetic Hilarion. His dancing and acting are both full of passion.

When Hilarion is caught by the willis his whirlwind turns are thrilling. He dies, completely exhausted in both body and spirit.

As Berthe, Susan Jones is a real mother, not just a corps member made up to look older. Jones is completely devoted to her daughter with the weak heart. In the peasant pas de deux Craig Salstein is a bit off, especially with regard to his jumps. His partner, Yuriko Kajiya, stands out for the lovely use of her arms and hands. In Act II the female corps are perfect as the willis, dancing in magnificent tandem with both the music and each other.

One thing I don’t understand is why ABT has included three old men with biblically patriarchal white beards in Act I of ‘Giselle’. They looked like they’ve escaped from Duck Dynasty. That being said, it was a fantastic evening at the ballet. I hope ABT keeps this version of ‘Giselle’ in their repertoire for a long time to come.

Let me just add that I treated my niece and her boyfriend to Giselle on Saturday evening. She just graduated from Barnard and will be leaving for a job at Morgan Stanley in London. My niece (whose name just happens to be Giselle)and I have attended many ABT performances since The Sleeping Beauty in 1998. It was great that we could attend such a magnicent Giselle for her last ABT performance.

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Just for information about Hallberg's entrachat six.

I saw his Albrecht in October 2013 with Tokyo Ballet, at that time he did not to entrachat six, but do the brises.

He danced very beautifully as an aristocratic Albrecht, though there were certain problems of his upper body (ex. His supporting seemed not ot be floating his Giselle in the air).

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I wonder if the choice of doing brisés instead of entrechats has to do with Hallberg's many recent injuries to his feet and ankles. The constant jumping up and down landing repeatedly on the feet and ankles may aggravate the injury and place him at risk. The brisés have a forward motion and are lower to the ground (though they weren't with Corella and Baryshnikov).

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