Girl meets boy. Girl falls in love with boy. Boy betrays girl. Girl dies of heartbreak. Boy grieves. Girl forgives boy. Boy is redeemed.
These few lines describe a tragic love story many of us have heard. The Romantic ballet, Giselle tells this story in an ethereal two hour performance. Giselle, a country girl, is in love with Albrecht, a duke already engaged to a princess. Albrecht, disguised as a villager named Loys, falls in love with Giselle but does not reveal his true identity. Both appear to be in love, however, Hilarion, who loves Giselle, discovers Albrecht’s secret and reveals it to the village. To make matters worse, it is revealed that Albrecht is engaged. Heartbroken and betrayed, Giselle is driven to madness and takes her own life.
Albrecht, in Act II, grieves for Giselle and looks for forgiveness. The ghost of Giselle appears before him and looks to forgive him. However, the Albrecht is forced to a dance to the death by the Queen of the Wilis, Myrtha (whose wrath kills men who have driven women to heartbreak and death). Because of Giselle’s love for Albrecht, she tries to save him from death. She gives him strength to dance until the morning when the Wilis are at their weakest and are powerless. They survive to the morning, Albrecht is saved by Giselle’s love, and is forgive. A love that transcends death.
The National Ballet of Canada’s production of Giselle is simply sublime. It incorporates all elements of a Romantic period ballet–tragedy, romance, and the grotesque. Xiao Nan Yu performed with the grace and elegance of someone surreal. Her performance was flawless and ethereal. Evan McKie returns as guest artist–one performance I was looking forward to all season. His strength and grace as Albrecht completed this enthralling performance of Giselle. These amazing dancers took my breath away, taking me into their ghostly world.
Giselle is a must see ballet for everyone. Filled with emotions and difficult techniques, this is a dream showpiece for every ballerina, and was the piece that inspired National Ballet’s own Karen Kain to become a ballerina. This performance will take you into a whole other world of beauty and love.
Giselle will be on stage until December 9 at the National Ballet. To further enhance the ballet experience, Ballet Talk is a session that starts 45 minutes before the performance explaining the techniques and scope of the performance.