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Giselle from Hell

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I was thinking it might be fun to start a topic on "Giselle from Hell."

You're an up-and-coming choreographer/artistic-director. You have a big

ballet company, all the stars at in the world at your disposal, a huge

budget, a desire to impress the world with your vast imagination and

innovation. And no taste at all.

How would you reset Giselle to show off your special talents?

Don't feel constrained to use the Adam score. Change the period and location

at will. Who needs a conventional male/female romance. I'd say you could

make Hilarion the hero of the ballet, but Vasiliev's done that already.

(Anyone ever notice how in some productions it's the very cross that

Hilarion ties together in the beginning of Act II which later saves


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I'm afraid every idea I can come up with has already been used! Giselle in an insane asylum, Giselle in a concentration camp, Giselle in the 20's. Even a gender switch with male wilis isn't a new idea. I guess like all those opera and theater directors who dress every army as WWII soldiers, I am completely at a loss for new ideas. But what about a lesbian Giselle who runs off with Bathilde?

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I hope you all are proud of yourselves. You have just defined the next decade smile.gif

I always liked the Trocks version -- throwing Hilarion (who they call "Hans") in the orchestra pit and batting him over the heat with their little silver shovels. And at the part where Albrecht begs for his life, and usually Giselle echoes it, in the Trocks version, she turns to him and shrugs her shoulders -- then dances happily off, glad to be free of her shroud.

I had thought of a lesbian version as well -- I really think it's the only angle no one has thought of yet, and I shudder to think of the next 20 years being lesbian rethinks of the classics. I hadn't thought of Bathilde and Giselle as being the leading couple, though, but, like Drew, Myrtha and Giselle. Perhaps we could blend the two. Bathilde turns out to be a ghostly manifestation of Myrtha, who's done this simply to get Giselle, kill her, and have her for all eternity. Of course that would leave Albrecht free to run off with Wilfrid. Fair is fair.

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How about a bisexual Giselle who is torn between Albrecht (male) and Hilary (female)? As for lesbians, well, there are those two demi-soloist wilis in the second act. Alexandra's idea of Bathilde and Myrtha being the same person works well. But why don't we set it in Spanish Harlem and choreograph to Ricky Martin and Santana? The royal court could be Giuliani and his officials. "Gisela" likes to go clubbing, but "Bertrada" her mother, says all those drugs aren't good for her, and if she keeps taking them, she'll eventually be sent to rehab.

One night at the club, Gisela sees "Alberto" with "Batilda," New York City royalty, and overdoses. Gets sent to rehab.

Alberto visits her there and tries to get her out, but he is clearly high, and the nurses try desperately to keep him in, too. However, he threatens to take legal action, and they must relent. He leaves, and tries to take comfort in the fact that the relapse rate for people in such situations as Gisela is ridiculously high.

Wow. I can't believe that trashiness came out of my own head. I'll have to appoint a " Balletic Integrity Police" for myself if I'm ever an AD wink.gif.



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Originally posted by CygneDanois:

Wow.  I can't believe that trashiness came out of my own head.  I'll have to appoint a " Balletic Integrity Police" for myself if I'm ever an AD  wink.gif.  

I could organize a volunteer brigade should the occasion arise, CyD smile.gif

Actually, yours is the most stageworthy. I'm not happy writing that, but truth is truth. You could get that version produced next spring.

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Albrechts who cross-dress, and the wronged peasant girls who love them -- next Sally smile.gif

Or should someone just go ahead and make a Giselle (new score, please) from Bathilde's point of view??? One of Peter Anastos's great little ballets was the evergreen tale of a society maiden kidnapped by gypsies and brought back to camp -- and the Queen of the Gypsies was not one little bit pleased about it, let me tell you.

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I don't know if this qualifies for Manhatnik's original question, but I have always wondered what Moyna and Zulma's stories were, much less Myrtha's. The do have names, and so should have stories. In one of the original versions, weren't they in some sort of a folk costume--oriental? Maybe one escaped from a harem. Lots of ballet potential there. You could have a Pasha, and slave dealers and maybe some pirates--well I guess I still don't have an original idea!

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This is about 50 years outdated, but we really ought to do the Amateur Freudian Giselle, where we find out that Myrtha is actually Albrecht's mother. Berthe gets her own huge variation (with lots of crossing motions) and the Duke of Courland even gets in the act with an implied incestuous relationship with Bathilde. He also casts lustful eyes at Giselle, of course, for another gratuitous sex triangle and to give Myrtha and Albrecht a motivation. It ain't a story without a Freudian motivation, doncha know. . .

We still use the Adam score, but resampled with bits of musique concrete and rap for relevance.


Leigh Witchel - dae@panix.com

Personal Page and Dance Writing

Dance as Ever

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