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Giselle 2017

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I made it to the "preview" performance of Giselle this evening (3/1). It was a very impressive opener for the production, better than I thought that the WB would be capable of. EunWon Lee played the ill-fated village girl, and to me she is the best dancer the WB has had in my 4 years in the DMV. She is also an excellent actress. Brooklyn Mack played Albrecht, and showed more nuance and "feel" than he has in the past. Francesca Dugarte hasn't has much prominence in the past, but she was a surprisingly good Myrta, showing excellent athletic ability. Corey Landolt was a credible Hilarion, and to me portrayed Hilarion as being on the selfish side and not totally undeserving of his fate. Andile Ndlovu was solid as the male member of the peasant pas de deux.


The Lee-Mack pair performs again on Friday evening and the Sunday matinee. Maki Onuki pairs with Rolando Sarabia on Thursday and Saturday evenings while Venus Villa and Jonathan Jordan handle the Saturday matinee.


During Sunday's talk, Julie Kent made references to 4 reasons why she chose Giselle:

- since she feels that she is changing the direction of the WB toward more of a classical ballet company, she thought that it would be good to start off with the first great classical ballet

- rehearsing for Giselle provides an opportunity for the dancers to improve classical techniques

- dancers like Giselle

- Giselle played a significant role in both her career and her personal life.

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If you follow Kent on Instagram, you saw that she invited Marcelo Gomes to visit the company during rehearsals for some coaching when he was in town for the ABT performances at the Kennedy Center. Kent herself (in soft shoes) demonstrated some things. And, of course, Victor Barbee is also there for coaching. So I'm pleased to see that the results were visible at this rehearsal.


As I often say, there is an enormous amount of raw talent in classical dancers in the smaller regional companies and limited opportunities for dancers to perform professionally in this country. When company directors make good programming choices and bring in coaching help, very satisfying performances can result.

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Does WB ever release casting before the performance?


Edit: In addition to providing a lovely review of the preview, you also stated casting! So thank you.  Also I need to read better.  In any case, is casting publicly available pre-performance/where can I find it is perhaps a much better question.

Edited by Emma
reading fails.
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This is great to read on all fronts.


I saw many wonderful surprises in PNB's first production, as well as the least surprising and to-the-bones rewarding Imler's Myrtha.  


As a Romantic ballet given a boned corset by Petipa, "Giselle" gives companies a lot of leeway and formidable challenges and is a great barometer for where dancers and companies are.  The long tutus, for example, are less exposed in leg line than the short ones in Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Bayadere, and Corsaire, and give dancers the opportunity to work on upper body expression.  Being set outside the court gives more range to "acceptable" characterizations.  


I'm so glad Washington audiences and visitors will get to see this production with Kent's and her collaborators' stamps on it.

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The official opening night (as opposed to the "preview", which was the real opening night): Maki Onuki almost made me walk back my statement about EunWon Lee being the WB's best. I didn't think that she had as much support, but my accomplice disagreed. While I thought that Rolando Sarabia did not match Brooklyn Mack, she thought that he was better. I thought that Gian-Carlo Perez was passive as Hilarion, but she thought that he did quite well.


The performance ran into a hitch when Onuki's dress snagged a large bunch of flowers as she emerged from the grave. The first Wili stepped on the flowers and managed to get most of them loose, though unfortunately since there wasn't a subtle way of moving them she had to leave her position to pick them up and put them back on the grave. The remaining flowers fell off in the middle of the stage and stayed there for most of the Giselle-Albrecht dance until Sarabia picked them up and danced with them until the segment ended with him at the grave, where he placed them on the grave as if it was part of the choreography.


Venus Villa was substituted for in the peasant pas de deux, so I hope that she isn't injured and have to miss her turns as Giselle.


Did I mention that the WB has a live orchestra for this production? YAY!!!!!!!!!

Edited by YouOverThere
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I went to the Saturday Afternoon performance. Venus Villa did not dance.  Ayano Kimura Danced the part of  Giselle  and I must say I enjoyed her performance very much.   I think she came across as being sincere and believably vulnerable.  She was beautiful in both acts. I liked Jonathan Jordan better in act II. I thought he pulled of the 'dance till you drop" pretty well.

He was believable.   Tamas Krizna danced Hilarion and I enjoyed him as well.  Francesca Duarte was a stern and solid Myrta.  


This was my first time seeing the Washington Ballet dance, and I thought the production was very nicely done.   The whole company looked good and danced well.  And yes, there were dogs on the stage!   The sight lines at the Eisenhower theater are  pretty good.  I was in the 4th row  (H) on the aisle to the left facing the stage.  I could see everything including feet. 


All in all a very enjoyable afternoon at the ballet.  I hope Julie Kent is able to do more of the classics with this company and bring them to the Kennedy Center.  

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I saw Saturday afternoon’s Giselle, danced by Ayano Kimura (filling in for Venus Villa) and Jonathan Jordan. I thought Ms. Kimura did a commendable job for what must have been a fairly last minute replacement (the programs already having been printed). A few years ago I saw the Maki Onuki/Broooklyn Mack “Giselle” by TWB, and while I am not sure anyone can match Onuki technically in the company (she is my favorite dancer at TWB), I really did enjoy Kimura’s winsome, girlish, shy Giselle in the first act. Her acting was great, and my heart really did break for her when Albrecht’s betrayal was revealed, because I believed she *was* Giselle.

Peasant PDD was danced excellently by Nicole Graniero and Corey Landolt. The Eisenhower Theatre’s stage is a bit too small for this production, yet these two danced right up to the scenery and almost on top of standing dancers and didn’t seem phased by it one bit. Graniero did a fantastic sequence of chaines into a double pirouette almost right on top of the sitting Duke, and landed perfectly into a kneeling position. I was amazed!! There were a few moments when I likewise thought Landolt might kick the scenery, but it could have been my angle (very close to stage on the right side). The stage really is too small for the men, but they made the best of it. I wish I could remember more details of their dancing, but they were both excellent, and Graniero was especially sharp.


One of Giselle’s “friends” really impressed me with her winning stage presence and joyful dancing. She had one of the yellow (golden?) dresses on, was a bit shorter than the others with dark hair. I wish I knew who it was, but I’m sure she’ll stand out in whatever role she performs next. I couldn’t take me eyes off her.

The second act was also lovely, and it made me like Kimura even more: here is still the shy, likeable girl from Act I, yet now forgiving and intensely sad. Her easy arabesques just melted like butter, and astonished me again and again. I enjoyed her dancing very much in the second act, and while it may not be as strictly sharp as Onuki’s is, it was still wonderful, and her petit allegro work was astonishingly excellent. Most of all I loved her acting and her arabesques.

I also enjoyed Francesca Dugarte’s Myrta, as I did all the Wilis, who danced very well as a corps. Very haunting. Dugarte had exceptional command of the role, and owned the stage when she was on it.


It was also lovely to have the live music. Kudos to all!

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I would list Ayano Kimura, Francesca Dugarte, and Corey Landolt as 3 dancers that I never paid much attention to before this production who turned out to be quite solid and capable of playing prominent roles. I also thought that Maki Onuki and Brooklyn Mack turned in better performances than I anticipated. Were my expectations too low? Or has there been some improvement?

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