Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Gisselle (American Ballet Theatre)

American Ballet Theatre brings top stars to dance 'Gisselle'

My first exposure to ballet was seeing the Bolshoi Ballet Company dance 'GISELLE' in the Soviet Union. It is therefore, with great anticipation, that I look forward to the American Ballet Theatre bringing 'GISELLE' to Cleveland’s State Theatre from October 30 through November 3. The storybook ballet will be performed by ABT’s stop stars including principal dancers Nina Ananiashvili of Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet and Irina Dvorovenko, who performed with the National Opera and Ballet Theatre of Kiev, Russia. Xiomara Reyes, who danced with Cuba’s national Ballet and the Royal Ballet of Flanders in Belgium will be featured as Giselle.

To appreciate Ballet, the viewer is wise to understand that the first half of the 19th century in Europe was known as The "Romantic Movement" period. Painting, music and literature were swept up in Romantic ideals: questioning the rules of the past, stressing individual expression and experimentation, and moving away from classic themes to the inclusion of more local color, supernatural beings and melodrama.

Ballet was a latecomer to the Romantic style, led by 'GISELLE,' a ballet conceived by Theophile Gautier. The music was composed by Adolphe Adam. The ballet was first performed at the Paris Opéra in 1841. The piece was a success on all levels, gaining critical and public acclaim for the choreography, music, designs and the dancing of all. The strongest endorsement was the fact that a style of hat and a type of fabric were named after the ballet.

Capsule judgement: 'GISELLE' offered audiences an escape to a world of mystery, beauty, danger, and death, a vision that stirred the imagination. What secures its place as the apex of romantic ballet is that in place of the usual happy ending, in which virtue is rewarded, a tragic death followed by a ghostly resurrection is substituted.