On arrival at the Grand Theatre for Northern Ballet’s Giselle, I knew nothing of this particular ballet at all and having before only ever seen ballets in which I am not relying on music and dancers’ lyricism to portray a plot, I was cautious that it would be difficult to follow and result in a rather insipid few hours. I was happily mistaken.
In Act I, the story follows the young and sweet Giselle (Pippa Moore) who falls in love with Prince Albrecht (Javier Torres), much to the distaste of another admirer. Weakened by ill-health, when Giselle realises that the Price is already engaged to another woman, she suffers a calamitous death. The second Act is focused around Giselle being enchanted to her grave by the Willis – virgin spirits of those women betrayed before their wedding day and her ‘love conquers all’ fight to save Prince Albrecht from a similar fate.
For those of you who have never seen a ballet before, Northern Ballet’s Giselle is an excellent example of technical precision and exquisite staging. Pippa Moore is a triumph and her lyricism portrays the tragedy of the story perfectly. Act II was by far my favourite of the two halves and the veiled virgin sprits shimmering on stage in perfect unison is eerily mesmerising.
The dancing itself was, overall, dexterous and accomplished. Despite some uncomfortable landings from the male dancers in the first half, by the second half all movements were perfectly in time and executed with polished clarity, resulting in a breathtaking array of exquisite leaps and lifts.
Pippa Moore displays her passion and vulnerability from the start, luring the audience into her character and charm as we see her transition between the acts. The staging was excellent – with dramatic lighting and sound effects meaning that the audience are thrust into a ghostly and dramatic second half without warning.
Giselle is an excellent piece for experienced ballet fans and newcomers alike – the music is hypnotising and could carry any audience into the spirit of the ballet as the orchestra were flawless. The dancers are beguiling and the costumes and props are resplendent enough to result in a completely immersive and enjoyable performance.
Giselle is playing at the Leeds Grand 25 May 2011 – 28 May 2011 – Wednesday – Saturday Evenings 7.30pm, Thursday and Saturday Matinees 2.30pm – Box Office – 0844 848 2706
Review by Kirsty Hulse