Reviews, News and Commentary

Royal New Zealand Ballet’s critically acclaimed “Giselle” to tour in May and June

John Daly-Peoples

The Royal New Zealand Ballet


New Zealand Tour

May 12 – June 9

Preview John  Daly-Peoples

The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s critically acclaimed “Giselle” which toured the world after its sold-out season in 2016, returns for a tour around the country in May and June.

My review at the time of the ballet premiere which was created by choreographers Ethan Stiefel and Johan Kobborg noted that, “all the principals were outstanding, dancing with elegance and virtuosity while the corps de ballet showed flair and skill”.

Like many of the romantic classical ballets, Giselle is a tale of love but not of an idyllic love. Along with the idea of a pure love, there is also the fickleness of love, doomed love and the jealousy, despair and cruelty that can come from blighted relationships. The first act of the ballet presents an intense, joyous love while the second act presents its dark, cruel side.

Giselle, a peasant girl, dies of a broken heart on discovering that her lover, Albrecht, who is a prince in disguise, has deceived her as he is already betrothed. In the second act she rises from her grave and is commanded by Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis, to dance Albrecht to his death. However, she dances with him, till dawn so his life is spared and she returns to the grave.

It is crucial for a great performance that these two contrasting and conflicting aspects need to be given emotional and physical authenticity through the dancing, the music, the sets and costumes. With this production the creative team has ensured that these have all been brought together to create a remarkably powerful narrative which is both close to human experience and at the core of the romantic myth.

The sets were cleverly juxtaposed, with the first act set bright and colourful, providing a cute little gingerbread house along with jolly peasants, with a romantic vista with a distant castle. The second act set was dark and mysterious, merging the bleak world of the graveyard and the mythical world of the jilted maiden.

The Wilis are female spiritual avengers – women who have died because they have been rejected and who now take their revenge on wayward males. This aspect of their supernatural power is a romantic concept of a parallel world reflecting the dual nature of the human condition.

The tightly disciplined corps de ballet in their role of the avenging Wilis adorned in their wedding veils were commanding, giving a chilling, visceral performance.

The Royal New Zealand Ballet Season of Giselle

Wellington, Opera House 

12 May to 15 May 

Palmerston North. Regent on Broadway 

19 May

Napier, Municipal Theatre 

22 May to 23 May 

Auckland, Kiri Te Kanawa Theatre, Aotea Centre

27 May to 29 May |

Christchurch, Isaac Theatre Royal  

4 June to 5 June 

Dunedin, Regent Theatre 

9 June 

By johndpart

Arts reviewer for thirty years with the National Business Review

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