Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Royal New Zealand Ballet's Giselle

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Royal New Zealand Ballet. Giselle, Swan Theatre, High Wycombe, 7 Nov 2015

Last Thursday the Royal New Zealand Ballet showed its prowess with four modern works (see  Kia Ora! The Royal New Zealand Ballet in Leeds 5 Nov 2015). On Saturday it performed Giselle, one of the oldest works in the modern repertoire.

The version that the company danced on Saturday had been staged by its former artistic director, Ethan Stiefel and the former Royal Ballet principal, Johan Kobborg.  They added some original and dramatic touches to the work such as a grieving Albrecht at the beginning and the end and two new characters in a bride who tossed her bouquet to Giselle and her groom who danced an important pas de deux.  Another interesting twist, which may or may not have been coincidental was that Bathilde, who had been cheated by Albrecht, was danced by Abigail Boyle who re-emerged in the second act as Myrtha, the vengeful queen of the wilis. That made me wonder whether Albrecht's treachery had killed Bathilde too.

On Saturday Giselle was danced by Mayu Tanigaito who showed considerable skill in her dancing though perhaos rather less in her acting.  It may well have been a result of the direction but it was hard to detect emotion upon discovering that the boy who had courted her was a cheat.  Tanigaito's coolness and precision in act 1 was just what was needed for act 2. She danced with a rare lightness which when combined with Kendall Smith's skilful lighting really did produce an ethereal impression.

Albrecht was danced by Carlo di Lanno who is with the San Francisco Ballet. He came over very smooth but also very sleazy. Handsome undoubtedly but how any girl could have been taken in by that cove beats me. However, di Lanno can dance and he showed his virtuosity in both acts.  I was particularly impressed by a solo in the first act where he, Hilarion and the bridegroom show what they can do.

As to the other major roles, Paul Matthews was a convincing Hilarion, Abigail Boyle a superb Myrtha and Bronte Kelly and Shane Urton a joyful bride and groom. I should also say a word for Alayna Ng who came over well as a caring rather than a batty mum. Berthe's is not a big role in the ballet but Ng made it an important one.

The ballet was performed to a less than full auditorium which was a pity because the company danced well. I felt they needed a lift so I stood at the reverance and I am glad to say that more than a few people in the stalls followed me.

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