Not sure if this should be a new thread or not; maybe Bruce will move it if it should be part of an existing thread.
The production has generally had favourable reviews in the press. Most seemed to say that the second act was better than the first. Well I was about to see for myself. With a cast of dancers completely unknown to me, I felt this would either be very good or very bad.
The curtain rises on the classic Giselle set. There are no gimmicks like flowing waterfalls or singing birds. The look is correct for true classical ballet. Enter Albrecht (Dragos Mihalces); he has wonderfully long legs, and to quote the song "knows how to use them". It's not often that a simple run-on has me going "ooooh", unless it is the corps. (As an aside, my ballet teacher says walking and running are the two most difficult things in ballet - comments please!) Wilfred (Jae Woog Pu) has the usual bad fake beard; ballet and bad beards go hand in hand in my opinion. The stage was set for a good performance.
Giselle (Seh Yun Kim) enters in blue. Oh well, we wasn't going to see Julia Moon dance. Immediately I could tell Miss Seh was going to dance the role well. She has a look of fraility but at the same time moves with consummate skill. I liked her a lot. Enter Hilarion (Jung-Hoon Kim); good the beard is extra bad. Pity I could not warm to him, as I found his acting very mannered. I could detect nothing of the person.
The peasant dance was very well executed by Ilmira Bagaoutdinova and Jae-Young Ohm. I would like to see a lot more of her. At the end of the second solo, she coped a bad landing and very nearly lost it. Hey it happens; they are only human after all.
She recovered with great poise and dignity. I doubt many of the audience spotted it. I felt Miss B. the better of the two dancers; my friend preferred Mr O. for the same reason. One review that I read said the corps did not look very together in scenes like the peasant dance. I detected none of this; they acknowledged the two soloists at the appropriate moments. Nice costumes too; nothing added and nothing removed from the norm.
Bathilde (Irina Guseve) is a very beautiful looking lady (Trog is in love!) The costume is very regal and the king had an extra bad beard. Absolutely perfect. The decent into madness, while nothing special it was handled without going OTT. I have seen several productions were this scene has been overplayed; this was not one off them thankfully. Perhaps some of the mime could have been more expressive, but generally I thought it was well done.
Act two, Mythra (Ioana Vasileseu) looks suitable haughty. On glide the corps, again very together. I must emphasise "glide"; I was struck my the absence of the usual tap-tap-tap. All 24 standing in perfect unison, nothing out of place. A line of 12 only just fits depth wise and they handled the entrances and exits by the chief Wilis perfectly; no knocking of arms. Again there were no gimmicks here, no Wilis on wires, just a few strobe lights.
Enter Giselle; ahaha a gimmick. The tombstone turns through a half circle to reveal her standing behind. Actually you could see her tutu before so the effect was partially ruined (or maybe this was a deliberate ploy in this gimmick free production). Hilarion proved to be quite capable of his dance of death; very energetic and with plenty of height. Mr Jae is not that tall, so this is quite a feat. Naturally Albrecht with the legs that go on forever had excellent elevation and great control during the beats. (I do wish I could beat at even 10% of his ability.)
And so dawn breaks, Giselle slips off, the Wilis depart and the curtain falls on a good performance. Julia Moon and Oleg Vinogradov appeared during the curtain calls.
I felt the orchestra were a bit uneven, sometimes too loud, sometimes too soft and sometimes the rhythm was uneven. Still this was real live music, and it always makes the performance much better than if a taped score is used.
The set was right, the costumes were right and the beards very bad. The dancing was solid if not spectacular. Would I recommend it ? Yep! While not an outstanding production, it is much better than some Giselle's I have seen. Well worth the trip from the Midlands to see them. If they tour again I will see them if possible.
Now for a secret. As I left the theatre, I saw some of the dancers walking back from buying their tea. Want to know what dancers eat to get that perfect body ? Burger King!