St James Theatre 2, Wellington

07/11/2012 - 11/11/2012

CBS Canterbury Arena, Christchurch

15/11/2012 - 17/11/2012

Civic Theatre, 88 Tay Street, Invercargill, Invercargill

20/11/2012 - 21/11/2012

Regent Theatre, The Octagon, Dunedin

24/11/2012 - 25/11/2012

Aotea Centre at THE EDGE®, Auckland

29/11/2012 - 02/12/2012

Production Details

A new staging of this quintessential ballet is co-produced by Ethan Stiefel and Johan Kobborg, internationally acclaimed principal dancer of the Royal Ballet. Gillian Murphy, RNZB Principal Guest Artist and star of American Ballet Theatre, dances Giselle, one of the most dramatic roles in the classical ballet repertoire.

Disguise and revelation, love and jealousy combine in this tragic tale. A love story unfolds against the ghostly backdrop of a Rhineland forest haunted by the fearful presence of the “Wilis” – vengeful spirits of abandoned brides. The beautiful peasant girl, Giselle, falls for Albrecht who conceals his identity to win her. The discovery of her lover’s deception shatters Giselle’s innocence and causes her to die of a broken heart. Albrecht is thrown into the hands of the merciless Wilis, but Giselle cannot bear to watch him die and returns as a ghost to save him.

Giselle is the most dramatic and beautiful of ballets and RNZB’s brand new production is a must-see in 2012.

Wellington – St James Theatre
Featuring Vector Wellington Orchestra
7 – 11 November 2012
Booking Details

Christchurch – CBS Arena
15 – 17 November 2012
Booking Details

Invercargill – Civic Theatre
20 – 21 November 2012
Booking Details

Dunedin – Regent Theatre
Featuring Southern Sinfonia

24 – 25 November 2012
Booking Details

Auckland – ASB Theatre
Featuring Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra
29 November – 2 December 2012
Booking Details

Rotorua – Civic Theatre
5 December 2012
Booking Details

Napier – Municipal Theatre
8 – 9 December 2012
Booking Details

Palmerston North – Regent on Broadway
12 December 2012
Booking Details

Cast lists for each centre are avaiable on the Royal NZ Ballet web site here

2.5 hours

Giselle - a truly magnificent production

Review by Rosemary Martin 30th Nov 2012

Johan Kobborg and Ethan Stiefel’s production of Giselle is a stunning success. It is tailor made to suit the Royal New Zealand Ballet, yet adheres to the key elements that make Giselle an ‘epic’ ballet. From the outset it is clear that it is all going to end tragically. We know that Giselle is going to go mad, we know that broken hearts are inevitable. Yet as the opening bars of the overture from the Auckland Philharmonia (led marvellously by Michael Lloyd) fill the auditorium, there is a sense of hope that this time it might be different, this time Giselle and Albrecht, rather than becoming doomed lovers, might get to live happily ever after. This sense of hope is all the more believable when portrayed by such a fine group of principal dancers.

After a brief prologue introducing the character of an ‘Older Albrecht’ reflecting on his lost love, act one depicts a picturesque Rhineland during harvest. Albrecht (Andrew Bowman) and his sidekick Wilfrid (danced earnestly by Jacob Chown) enter with buoyancy and youthfulness. Andrew Bowman, a Kiwi expat, makes a magnificent homecoming in the role of Albrecht. A total ballet babe, he is handsome, gentlemanly and considered in every detail of his portrayal. He charms us in act one, and enthrals us in act two. The Royal Danish Ballet influence is clear in his polished technique; with a series of beats in act two so exquisitely beautiful it was hard not to squeal with delight.

Giselle, danced by Antonia Hewitt, soon makes an appearance. Hewitt dances the role of Giselle with fragility and picture book perfection. While seeming a little nervous in her act one solo, by the mad scene she had convinced us of her character. In the midst of going mad she is momentarily perfectly still, sitting in the middle of the stage, hair loose and eyes glazed, her pain and aching heart become all very real – a wonderful dramatic interpretation. In act two, Hewitt really settles into the role. Technically superb, she gives an entrance in the opening of this act that is breath taking.
In act one Hewitt and Bowman clearly establish a tender playfulness in their relationship. They offer subtle reflections of timid first love, seeming almost oblivious to the joyful dancing peasants around them until they are enticed in to join the celebrations of the wedding couple, danced beautifully by Lucy Green and Kohei Iwamoto. Dimitri Kleioris makes his presence felt in act one as the suave Hilarion. Kleioris totally becomes the character, giving a very honest performance, accompanied by astoundingly assured technique. It is Hilarion who initiates the downward spiral, revealing the true identity of Albrecht (a Lord who is engaged to someone else), which in turn leads Giselle to her death.

The second act opens to the scene of a moonlit glade, and Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis (Lucy Balfour) bourrées furiously across the stage. Mrytha’s accomplices Moyna and Zulma (danced by Clytie Campbell and Ginny Gan respectively) join her, closely followed by an army of Wilis – supernatural beings jilted before their wedding day, now seeking revenge by luring young men to their death by dancing. Lucy Balfour’s interpretation of Myrtha is ice cold, callous and calculating, she forgives no one, particularly male ballet dancers. She commands the space with a sense of breadth and maturity that is so satisfying to see. With assured technique, she flies around the stage with a series of saut de basques, finding just the right balance between power and reticent grace.

The corps de ballet in act two have a hard job – demanding technique, lengthy balances in arabesque, veils, bourrées forever, all while achieving perfect lines and looking completely calm and aloof. Despite the obvious youth within the ranks, they deal with it all very well.

Hilarion makes the mistake of visiting Giselle’s grave and he succumbs to the Wilis powers, dancing to exhaustion before being thrown into the lake. Soon Albrecht arrives and there is the sense of fear that he will meet the same fate, however, Giselle steps in. Hewitt and Bowman dance an exquisite act two pas de deux, controlled technically yet emotively powerful. The vengeful sisterhood of the Wilis seem almost repulsed at the couple’s affection towards each other, glaring cruelly and turning their backs wherever possible. Myrtha steps in and demands Albrecht dance – and we all know where this is going. Just when it looks like it might be the end for Albrecht, dawn breaks and the Wilis’ power subsides. The final moments of act two have Hewitt and Bowman parting, a painful and sombre goodbye. The epilogue returns to the Older Albrecht, consumed by grief and guilt. While the inclusion of the Older Albrecht adds another layer to the narrative, it is perhaps a little under-developed in how it might offer a sense of reflection on events past and sit along side the traditional storyline. The Older Albrecht returns to Giselle’s grave and a swarm of Wilis enter with slow methodical steps. The curtain falls.

Bravo. This version of Giselle is a truly magnificent production, capturing the romance and the tragedy of the story brilliantly. It only reiterates that we do really have a world-class ballet company right here in New Zealand.


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A privilege to be part of

Review by Hannah Molloy 25th Nov 2012

Giselle was a new ballet for me and I carefully hadn’t read much about the story so I arrived at the Regent Theatre with few preconceptions and lots of anticipation. I hadn’t been able to help hearing the rave reviews about Gillian Murphy’s performance so I was pleased to see that she was playing the lead role.

It plucked every string of emotion, from the surging gurgle of laughter and fun in the first half of the first act, to devastation as Murphy went slowly and so gracefully mad with grief and a broken heart, to an eerie chill as the Queen of the Wilis orchestrated her arctic women, the brief lightening of spirits as Giselle forgives and saves her beloved and then his own descent into despair as he gives up and hands himself over to Myrtha. I can’t recall a more sinister ending to anything I’ve seen or read in a long time!

Watching Murphy’s foot move, from flat on the floor, bending and rising to pointe and the beautiful curve of her instep took my breath away. She was exquisite to watch, and the parallels between her and Marie Taglioni, the original Sylph, as described in the programme – “style of ballet that combined great muscle strength and control … with a sense of effortlessness, grace and femininity … Taglioni’s formidable technique served her artistry” are easily drawn.

It’s not just physical technique that makes Murphy outstanding. Her protection of her beloved against the Wilis reminded me of watching a woman I know spread her arms around her children, cradling them as they absorbed the news of the death of their father, her husband. This sort of maternal and loving protective instinct expressed so apparently naturally while playing a role is something I haven’t seen before.

 Qi Huan partnered Murphy beautifully. His jumps were outstanding – I lost count and still he leapt – and the passion and energy in his face, (whether due to the strain of the work or the grief of the role), and his pleasure in the audience’s response to his skill were delightful.

Lucy Green is always delicious to watch and she played her two very different roles, the bride and Moyna, superbly and as did Mayu Tanigaito as Zulma. Her arms have a particularly beautiful curve. Tonia Looker and Dimitri Kleioris stood out in the village dances with their cheery sparkle, Antonia Hewitt was properly supercilious as Bathilde and Lucy Balfour’s Berthe proved everyone’s mother right when they say “mama knows best”…

The Wilis, as a corps, made me think of children’s ballet recitals and this evolution, from nervous five year olds to creatures of such grace and perfect timing, as surely something Darwin would find intriguing. Abigail Boyle’s Myrtha was cool and imperious and she had complete control over her minions and an equally complete lack of mercy. They really were baleful creatures and Hilarion stood no chance, unprotected against such a row of damning spirits.

Poor Hilarion. My guest (aged 11) and I felt that somehow he drew the very shortest straw possible – surely he is an example of a well-meaning man doing the wrong thing for the right reasons? Jacob Chown’s Hilarion was sympathetic and engrossing and it really didn’t seem right that the Wilis took out their angst on him – after all he didn’t break poor Giselle’s heart. (A clear case of cheering for the underdog! Why does the prince always get the girl, even in death?)

It occurred to me halfway through the second act that this choreography and music is seven years older than Dunedin, and more than a hundred years older than the Royal New Zealand Ballet. It means a great deal to sit and watch artists of this calibre performing a work that has truly stood the test of time. It means that our history is alive and is still being written and we, in whichever role we play, prima ballerina, audience or set designer, are privileged to be a part of it.



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Audience captivated by the romance of Giselle

Review by Kasey Dewar 21st Nov 2012

It was with growing excitement I read my invitation email to the opening night of Giselle in Invercargill on the 20th of November. While I knew the basic outline of the story, I had not seen the ballet performed so I was looking forward to seeing how the Royal New Zealand Ballet presented it.

Giselle was first performed in France in 1841. The ballet describes the doomed love story of Albrecht, a noble man who disguises himself as a peasant named Lenz, and Giselle, the young village girl with who he is smitten. This version has been produced and choreographed by Johan Kobborg & Ethan Stiefel and utilises the music of Adolphe Adam.

The first act begins within the village; Albrecht danced by Andrew Bowman arrives in his peasant clothes and sets about wooing Giselle, danced beautifully by Antonia Hewitt. While initially unsure, Giselle eventually returns his feelings and falls deeply in love with the man she thinks is Lenz. The interaction between Giselle and Lenz is wonderful to watch, longing looks; gentle touches and delicate choreography have you hoping they’ll have a happy ending at this early point in the performance.

The appearance of Hilarion danced by Dimitri Kleioris is a stark contrast to the earlier scene. He is a rival suitor after Giselle’s heart and isn’t happy when he finds her taken by Lenz. I love the energy of Hilarion, at first eagerly trying to convince Giselle of his love for her and then rampaging around the stage wanting to take out his rage on Lenz.

Things become slightly suspicious when the aristocracy stop briefly by the village. Albrecht runs away and hides, as he is not meant to be associating with the peasants and certainly shouldn’t be dressing like one. Hilarion notices this odd behaviour and after the aristocracy leave, finds Albrecht’s sword and horn hidden in a shed. In his eagerness to win Giselle, he outs Albrecht’s secret. When the aristocracy return, it becomes apparent that Albrecht being a nobleman is not the only problem. I joined the rest of the audience in uttering a tiny gasp when Albrecht’s wife-to-be steps forward! Giselle descends into madness, crazed hair; a far off look and rag doll-style dancing clearly convey her feelings of betrayal. I almost found this piece hard to watch, the combination of clever choreography, excellent acting from Antonia as Giselle, and the musical score, had me squirming in my seat!

The second act begins after Giselle’s death from a broken heart. The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s sets always have me in awe and this time is no exception. The moving tree screen is a perfectly creepy way to open the scene in the forest. Clever use of veils, running Wilis and ramps at the back of the set have me convinced there are ghostly women flying around the stage. Myrtha Queen of the Willis is danced by Lucy Balfour who pulls off the icy, graceful character beautifully. She calls her Wilis into the clearing – a scene that is exactly how you imagine Giselle, pale woman in classic long white tutus dancing gorgeously in time. If the idea was to have the audience transfixed like the poor men lured to dance to the death with the Willis – mission accomplished. A fate Hilarion meets unfortunately!

Myrtha summons Giselle to join the other Willis and Albrecht is lured into the forest where the Willis try to dance him to death. Giselle forgives Albrecht though and spends the night protecting him from Myrtha and the Wilis. Their tender duets throughout the scene convey the love Giselle and Albrecht have for each other. Albrecht survives the night and the Willis disappear into the forest in the dawn.

The ballet ends with a haunting scene of the older Albrecht visiting Giselle’s grave and the army of Willis advancing on him from the side of the stage.

Giselle is a ballet of contrasts. From the significant difference in  the mood between Act 1 and 2 , the light and happy village and the dark, creepy forest, to the difference in personalities between the characters of Albrecht and Hilarion. The story flows easily throughout the scenes and as usual with the RNZB is easy to follow. The bouts of clapping between scenes and the multiple murmurings of “wow!” after the final curtain drops prove the audience is captivated by the romance of Giselle


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Giselle is breathtaking - bravo the Ballet!

Review by Toby Behan 16th Nov 2012

It was a very large audience that poured into the CBS Arena last night (the temporary home of large dance events in Christchurch) to attend Giselle, the latest interpretation of this quintessential ballet from choreographers Johan Kobborg and Ethan Stiefel. To sum the evening up in short (and to assist those who need to extract short quotes from critical reviews), the following is a pleasure to say:

Giselle is breathtaking – a harrowing tale of love that is lost; it is a tale of forgiveness that transcends the most horrific of wounds. This production of Giselle, through wonderful dancing and arrangement, propels these emotional weapons outward from the stage – holding the audience in a grasp that chills and burns.

The Royal New Zealand Ballet is changing before our eyes. With the 2011 appointment of Ethan Stiefel into the Artistic Director chair, no fewer than seven new dancers (five of whom appear to have followed Mr. Stiefel from North Carolina, where he was Dean of the School of Dance immediately prior to his appointment here) have recently joined the company, and we warmly welcome them to the country and to our stages. We also continue to cherish the other stars of this company (as well as those who are rightly headlined in the media), whom we have known for some years now and who continue to share their talent with this country.

Choreographers Kobborg and Stiefel have clearly thought through their approach to this production of Giselle, which is a mix of the new and the traditional.

A clever touch opens the ballet with the central character of Albrecht as an old man (whereas we would normally see him cheerfully entering the village as the opening scene). Evolutions such as this are brave, and the right direction for ballet. As audiences now (having witnessed cinema and film developments over the last 50 years, none of which were available to original audiences of this ballet) – we are ready to have this story told to us using different devices. It enriches our understanding of the story and our connection to it.

As this vision dissolves, we meet the hero (arguably villain) of the evening, as Albrecht arrives onstage, played on opening night by Denmark based New Zealand dancer Andrew Bowman – and the tragedy of events begins to unfold. We witness the beautiful, innocent and gentle Giselle (Antonia Hewitt) shyly receiving the advances of Albrecht, gradually becoming more involved and in love as they join in the village revelry of the first act. Hilarion, a local woodsman, also makes clear his rival affections for Giselle – and when in anger he reveals that Albrecht is actually a lord (engaged to be married to another), and not the single peasant he is pretending to be, the fair maiden dies from madness and grief.

Hewitt exudes the innocence and shyness required from the part, and is technically strong. She will grow further into the incredibly demanding scene where she descends into madness, but this is an accomplished debut in a very challenging role. Bowman himself, as the suitor and cause of her death, is an excellent technician and a joy to watch soaring through the air – although his expression needs work to enhance the believability of his part in this story. As Hilarion, Dimitri Kleioris positively shines – combining vigour, honest passion, and sharply honed dance technique to underline it all. For the ensemble dancers within the company, Yang Liu, Rory Fairweather-Neylan, Kohei Iwamoto and Bronte Kelly consistently draw the eye.

The first act has had some revisions and movements – there is no longer the traditional peasant pas-de-deux, and much of the group dance movement has been choreographed. There is mixed success here – the narrative certainly seems to hang together more smoothly and proceed in a logical way, but some of the ensemble choreography is perhaps over-simplistic and does not allow the dancers to display a fuller array of talents.

The second act however, is where this production truly excels. As Albrecht and Hilarion mourn at Giselle’s graveside, they are tormented by the Willis – the spirits of young and vengeful women who exact horrific punishment on the men they capture. Although Hilarion meets his (undeserved?) fate in this way, Giselle herself, in an extraordinary and tender act of forgiveness, defends and pleads for the man who caused her ruin.

Hewitt and Bowman both seem to be more at home within this act and their partnership throughout the act is superb. As Myrtha, Queen of the Willis, Lucy Balfour gives the performance of a lifetime – not portraying evil, but instead portraying pure cold contempt and unflinching cruelty. The Willis themselves, danced by the female corps de ballet members, are simply superb – framing and anchoring the act with tremendous technique and discipline. The overall effect of the second act is simply stunning. Without giving too much away, surely this revised ending is how the ballet of Giselle should always have culminated.

Giselle is indeed a marvellous production and one that everyone who has the opportunity must see. This production is being lauded as a ‘new’ version of Giselle, although we need to bear this term in perspective. The majority of the choreography is traditional – sequences that we would see replicated in many companies who perform this work worldwide. The star of this ballet is surely the original synopsis and choreography itself – which the tweaks and revisions performed by Kobborg and Stiefel allow to shine through to great effect.

Although the device of the older Albrecht is welcome – it does not feel complete. He is there – and suddenly gone, and thereby his presence is nearly somewhat of an afterthought. His sequences could be extended more, crossing over with the onstage action perhaps (such as nearly happens at the beginning of Act II).

One final word – when is somebody (dancer or choreographer) going to answer the big question of Giselle, which is “Why Albrecht?”. Particularly in a production like this, which so superbly extends the role of Hilarion to a passionate and principled young man, handsome and full of fire – what is the appeal of the somewhat insipid character of Albrecht, who seemingly offers nothing more than tall and handsome? We need to understand more, perhaps, as to why Giselle chooses as she does. We need to like Albrecht more to experience a fuller tragedy.

Bravo the Ballet. 


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Worthy tribute to ballet supporter

Review by Jennifer Shennan 08th Nov 2012

Ethan Stiefel and Johan Kobborg, two stellar forces in world ballet, have combined to direct a streamlined synopsis for this classic. All the dancing serves the story tightly, so its unforgiving ending is inevitable.

The painted frontcloth for Act One (design by Howard Jones) is a colourful tree with branches, covered in heart-shaped leaves, uplifted into the bright air . . . O happy villagers.

Swoop down to the tree roots and there’s another heart shape, menacing in the dank, dark undergrowth . . . O woeful shades.

Gillian Murphy dances her inaugural Giselle with breathtaking control and superbly phrased delivery. Her technique is impeccable but never bravura.

She may have the reputation of being a fast dancer but believe me, she does slow too. Balances are held, arabesques developed, port de bras sustained, pirouettes gifted, all speaking of love. Lucky RNZB, and they know it.

Qi Huan as Albrecht fair explodes with the thrill of partnering her, and dances better than he ever has. Such expressive play, such heroic heights, such strong partnering . . . the dancer and the lover are one.

Unusually, Jacob Chown as Hilarion garners our sympathy for the sweet but jilted lover, through dramatic performing not seen from him before.

The villagers dance with great joie de vivre, in patterns of visual and rhythmic delight. As the bridal couple among them, Lucy Green and Medhi Angot are a delicious joy of everything right.

In Act Two, Abigail Boyle as Queen of the Wilis is chillingly perfect and has to be seen to be believed. The Wilis are forces to be reckoned with; everything’s wrong, and they dance to prove it.

The forest at midnight is dangerous, if hypnotically beautifully staged.

Michael Lloyd conducts Vector Wellington Orchestra. Teachers, wardrobe, crew and management are on duty. A million things could go wrong with an enterprise of this magnitude, yet nothing does.

The stage is throbbing with talented dancers, among them three sets of soloists for this short season. I have seen them all in rehearsal. Pitch perfect. Lucky us.

The Wellington season is dedicated to the late David Carson- Parker, arts philanthropist and RNZB supporter.

Thank you, David.  


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Lavish, wistful and awesome to watch

Review by Virginia Kennard 08th Nov 2012

Giselle is lavish and wistful in this production from superstars Johan Kobborg and Ethan Stiefel, a clever and fun collaboration.

Giselle has always felt a little anti-feminist to me in its sympathetic portrayal of male heartbreakers, and its presentation of heartbroken women as vengeful Wilis who have the right to dance to death any man who strays into their forest realm between midnight and dawn. The underlying story comes out of an era of Western civilisation that cultivated the woman as a fantastical figure of mystical and fearful emotional capabilities, and the spectre of the Willi’s as exacting the ultimate revenge is part of Giselle’s moral tale – Giselle recognizes her own wrongdoing  and forgives Albrecht, allows him to live.

What is surprising is that Stiefel and Kobborg have put the narrative into a context of nightmarish flashbacks for Albrecht, ultimately (and satisfyingly) leading to what would appear to be his ultimate death by Wili.

Albrecht’s older self relives his younger self’s actions: the deception of his flirtation with Giselle, her death by heartbreak and the ensuing scenes of melancholic love as her spirit protects him from the Wilis. The elder Albrecht comes full circle, as prostrates himself before Giselle’s grave, the Wilis descend in the best hinted-at death scene ever.

In addition, this particular cast has lead males and a Corps de Ballet that are refreshing and wonderful, yet there is a very traditional invocation of the old-fashioned awe and fear of women as ultimate arbiters of fate, firmly fixing Giselle and Mytrtha in the mould of fearful, mystical creatures.

The stage is set with a tilted back fore-drop – a feminine, pink, towering arboreal like Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree, looming its hearts-as-leaves over the audience. Gillian Murphy opens this production as Giselle, dutiful daughter with a hint of coquettishness in response to the brash pursuit by Albrecht. Her duet with Albrecht after catching the coveted bouquet at a local wedding is beautifully romantic, technically impeccable. Her zoned-out episode once she finds out Albrecht has duped her is freakier than a crazed frenzy.

Qi Huan as Albrecht is the refreshing, earnest younger man pursuing a (slightly) older woman, all youthful bustle and eager to convince her of her wondrousness. His solo for Giselle at the villagers’ wedding is triumphant and buoyant – he knows he is already her choice. Jacob Chown as Hilarion is wonderful as the local dude who loves Giselle first. Flat-footed on entrance to affirm his status as gamekeeper, he pieces together the identity of the mystery man to reveal Albrecht in disguise. He dances to prove his worth in his solo for Giselle, but despite sturdy legs and a powerful allegro, he is gutted at being second choice.

The nobility are decadently garbed as if off to the Races in Edwardian England, at odds with the peasants’ costumes, which are more of a nod to Bavaria of an earlier time, with coloured skirts, and trousers, contrasting cummerbunds and vests. The lush maroon of Wilfred’s jacket is worth a mention, and the romantic tutus of the Wilis during Act II are a sublime choice by costume designer Natalia Stewart.

The Corps de Ballet performance, once the nobility leave, is as villagers performing a uplifting maypole sequence, dynamic in its arm lines and the under-and-overs, certainly more so than their earlier attempts at partner dancing, which is little more than step-touch and smiling. There is quite a cool piece of staging during the wedding for the Corps. They join the jubilant married couple one couple at a time, twirling and leaping. Maree White, Harry Skinner and Dimitri Kleioris establish wonderful characters during the female and male ensembles respectively, Dimitri especially as the cocky and supportive mate to the groom.

Act II opens with the blackened roots of the aforementioned tree. Now we feel the power and fear of the jilted women build, with misty green lighting making the roots eerily sway. The gravestone of Giselle is visible behind it. As the fore-drop is lifted away, a very ornate, tangled forest is revealed, diminishing the mystical emptiness the simple gravestone implies and imbuing claustrophobic smothering to the grieving friends.

The Corps de Ballet become Wilis, romantic and mystical women to be feared. They are tight-knit, executing military precision in their placement, under veiled eyes. Moyna, played by Lucy Green, is pitch-perfect in her opening solo though a little heavy in her landings in the third solo. Mayu Tanigaito introduces the grimly determined Wili character in the second solo. The Queen of the Wilis (Myrtha) of my youth was more Lady Macbeth, manic in her desire for revenge on behalf of her jilted Wilis. Myrtha here is played by Abigail Boyle as a more restrained, imperious guardian. The epic sequence of arabesques for the Corps is always a tense moment of movement execution and these women are grimly focused and almost zombie-like. This in fact appropriately enhances the accusatory and determined quality of their arabesques and performance.

The whirlwind of Wilis around Hilarion is awesome to watch, crafted as a maelstrom of movement accusation and death sentence. The musical score of Act II is a welcome and superb partner to these moments of whirlwind and marching arabesque conducted with vivacity by Michael Lloyd.

And then it’s Albrecht’s turn.  The spirit of Giselle tensely shadows his moves, textbook demure and seldom lifting her gaze, apparently sleepwalking at times – her authority residing in her incredible ballon and letter perfect movement execution. The relationship between the spirit Giselle and the grieving Albrecht is at its best here – the sustained nature of their duet is melancholic and mesmerizing. A satisfying sigh escapes when she nestles her arabesque into his back as he kneels at her grave. Albrecht’s earlier youthful manner gives way to anguish on the revelation of his deception, Qi Huan visibly matures as he dances with her spirit, and as her image fades in and out his sight; he realizes he is lost without her and seems surprised at the depth of his emotion. 


James Levy November 8th, 2012

Well, the above review certainly tells us the plot if we didn't know it. What I saw? A much improved technique  from the dancers with more clarity  in movement than previous years. The acting was as half -hearted as usual, almost emotionally void, but with the enhanced skill that can be forgiven. The design of the set and costumes was dull though, it seems that the new RNZB director likes to use friends from New York over NZ designers and we have now drab academic designs over the more imaginative concepts that local designers had. It was more a triumph of technique over art which though, in ballet, is not always a bad thing...perhaps.

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