Giselle, or the perfect dream
Illustration by Anna Seibæk Torp-Pedersen
The current Giselle at the London Coliseum is a revival of Mary Skeaping’s traditional production, restoring the ballet’s 1841 roots and emphasising its Romantic style. The story is based around Giselle, a peasant girl who is romantically betrayed by Albrecht, the aristocrat in disguise. This betrayal leads her to go mad and die of heartbreak in the first act. The second half sees her rise as a ghost, joining the vengeful Willis who forces men to dance to their death.
The production features the ethereal Alina Cojocaru as the fragile heroine. The fine boned dancer is the centrepiece of the show; the audience is enchanted by her floating across the stage. Her portrayal of Giselle is so natural and truthful that you can feel her emotional heartbreak. Her communication with Albrecht is so delicately clear that the audience can easily piece the dialogue together between the two characters as they move in a trance like state, utterly absorbed in one another. This naturalism is beautifully emphasised by the rest of the cast, who portray the story of everyday life.
The second act of the ballet was the most mesmerising. I was taken into another world, which starkly contrasted the idealized, pastoral scene of the first half. The highlight of act two was the intense and impulsive group dancing from the the vengeful betrayed lovers (Wilis) which was both frightening yet entrancing. Laurretta Summerscales’ act as the Queen of the Wilis is most striking with her electric, bold jumps and grand turns.
In total, the Coliseum’s production of Giselle was utterly absorbing; an impossible world which was made to seem natural through the detailed, spellbinding dancing of the cast.