Giselle is a grand romantic ballet with love, loss and forgiveness

| October 22, 2017 | Comments (0)

GiselleThe Joffrey Ballet recently opened its 61st season with Giselle, a lush, romantic ballet in the grand classical ballet tradition. From the opening scene through the final curtain, Giselle is a gorgeous, layered romance filled with complex characters. It’s the way a dancer turns his/her head or smiles or looks at his/her hand that adds depth to an already intricately-danced story that has everything you might want in a good story including romance, mystery, beauty, death and redemption.

Victoria Jaiani embodies the youthful spirit that makes you care for Giselle. She opens her heart to Albrecht, a handsome young man who courts her. Despite the competition from another young man, Albrecht (Temur Sulushvilli) wins Giselle’s love. They dance their innocent, romantic love story in a simple village surrounded by a lush forest. The trees tower over the rural village, creating an enclosed, safe place for its people. A road at the edge of town is both a blessing and a curse as it brings Albrecht to Giselle, and it also takes him away after the royal hunting party visits. It is the hunting party’s visit that brings heartbreak when Giselle discovers that her love is engaged to a princess. This deception drives her to madness and death.

As the second act opens, much of the forest remains, but instead of lovely village cottages, we see a fresh grave. This is supposed to be Giselle’s final resting place, but she is not ready to rest in peace. Hilarion, a heartbroken Rory Hohenstein, mourns the love he never achieved. He is driven away by the Wilis, spirits of young maids who died before they married. These ethereal creatures float across the stage in winsome precision, yet their beauty hides a darker purpose. They seek revenge upon young men by dancing them to death. When Albrecht visits Giselle’s grave, he is posed to become the Wilis’ next victim. Giselle forgives and protects him, leading her to rest in peace.

The ballet throughout Giselle is so emotional and alluring that the audience becomes mesmerized by the dancers. The complex performances transcend the stage as they each become their own works of art. Throughout the performance, audience members were transfixed by the impeccable footwork, as if they were afraid that taking their eyes off the dancers might make it all fade away.

There is also more acting in Giselle than you might expect from a ballet production. The dancers never speak, but they use their facial expressions and gestures to fill in the words. At one point Giselle’s mother stared at Albrecht with a look that every parent recognized. It was a look our daughters refer to as the “ice glare.” It was clear that she did not approve of Albrecht courting her daughter.

Giselle is a ravishing production that pulls at your heartstrings as a parent from start to finish. You understand Giselle’s mother as she tries to protect her daughter from Albrecht. You hurt when the first act closes with Giselle dead in her mother’s arms. You are resolved at the end when Giselle finds her after-life peace. You wish it was a happy ending, but in this case, peace in her after-life is as close as she will ever come to eternal happiness.

Giselle is at Chicago’s historic Auditorium Theatre through October 29. For a complete schedule or to purchase tickets, visit http://www.joffrey.org/giselle

 

Shari writes about life with twins at Two Times the Fun. Image courtesy of the Joffrey Ballet.

 

Disclosure:  I did receive media passes to attend opening night. My words and opinions are my own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Category: Shari's Corner

About Shari: Shari is a mom, wife, marketing communications professional, gardener, Chicago Blackhawks fan, college sports fan, traveler, quilter, community volunteer, sister, daughter, aunt, friend, Siberian Husky owner, Girl Scout troop leader and book lover. You can find Shari blogging about life with twins at Two Times the Fun and tweeting @slcs48n1. View author profile.

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