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Subject: "Giselle - Royal Ballet Opening Night" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #119
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Eugene Merrett

07-07-99, 04:50 PM (GMT)
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"Giselle - Royal Ballet Opening Night"
 
   Guillem is a great modern classical dancer but as Giselle she is seriously miscast. It is easy to gasp at her astonishing technique but when it is used inappropriately it is little better then a circus act.

I see no reason for the enormous leg extension in Giselle. It looks so unnatural and ungraceful that I instinctively turn my head away from the ugliness of the spectacle. Quite simply it looks like a deformity. The problem is enhanced by the fact that her leg is enormous –and this is made worse by the long skirt Giselle has to wear.It cloaks her leg making it look bigger. So it looks more like Godzilla rising then a graceful leg extension! Obviously this is a matter of opinion – some people love it – but I cannot accept that this appropriate for such as a fragile personality as Giselle.

Without the leg extension it would have been a fine performance – but Ms Guillem has neither the dramatic intensity of Durante or the etherial style of Yoshida. I also thought the tempos were rather too brisk in the second act. It took some of the ghostly atmosphere away– this was probably at the insistence of Ms Guillem.

I also need not like Yanowski performance as Myrtha. She looked very and ungraceful in the role. I even preferred the very earthbound Nicola Trannah and Tracey Brown to Yanowski. At least they had great stage presence!

It also pains me to say that I think it is time for Nicola Roberts to move on. As the soloist in the peasant Pas de Deux she was showing her age rather alarmingly. It is time for the likes of Sara Gallie to take her place.

But I did like Laurent Hillaire as the love rat Albrecht. I loved his power and majesty. He is one the finest (if not the finest) male dancer in the world.

Something was wrong with the stage design. Despite the stage being bigger than Covent Garden the actual dance area looked much smaller. Too much of it was taking up by the sets. The corp looked very cramped on stage.

The lighting was also not quite right. Some of the more dramatic scenes in Act 2 were too dark to get full effect. I am sure that this will improve as the season goes on.

I am sorry this makes grim reading but I must be honest with the way I feel. Overall this is one of the least successful Giselles I have seen.


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Giselle - Royal Ballet Opening Night Jeannie 07-07-99 1
     RE: Giselle - Royal Ballet Opening Night Eugene Merrett 08-07-99 2
         RE: Giselle - Royal Ballet Opening Night Stuart Sweeney 08-07-99 3
             RE: Giselle - Royal Ballet Opening Night Jenny Delaney 08-07-99 4
         RE: Giselle - Royal Ballet Opening Night Runcible Asever 08-07-99 5
             RE: Giselle - Royal Ballet Opening Night Anneliese 09-07-99 6
                 RE: Giselle - Royal Ballet Opening Night Eugene Merrett 09-07-99 7
                 RE: Giselle - Royal Ballet Opening Night Stephanie 09-07-99 8

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Jeannie

07-07-99, 04:55 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Giselle - Royal Ballet Opening Night"
In response to message #0
 
   Gene, your initial comments on Guillem's leg extensions made me think, for a moment, that you were reviewing the Kirov's Svetlana Zakharova as Giselle. I suppose that some people like Cirque du Soleil acrobatics in Romantic ballets, don't they?


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Eugene Merrett

08-07-99, 10:12 AM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Giselle - Royal Ballet Opening Night"
In response to message #1
 
   Agnes Lestestu and Maya Dumchenko also have Gulliemish leg extensions - but it looks OK because their legs are smaller. Also it looks better with a tutu then a skirt because the tutu does not cloak the leg making it look bigger.

I should emphasise that leg extensions not withstanding it was a FINE performance!!

But if I instinctively turn my head away from a dancer what I can I say? I never thought I would be physically repelled at something in ballet! It is certainly not what ballet is about.


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Stuart Sweeney

08-07-99, 10:39 AM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Giselle - Royal Ballet Opening Night"
In response to message #2
 
   >
>
>But if I instinctively turn my head
>away from a dancer what I
>can I say? I never
>thought I would be physically repelled
>at something in ballet! It
>is certainly not what ballet is
>about.

I can only say that I didn't turn my head away for one second, but was spellbound by Guillem's beautiful dancing and increasingly good acting ability. I am not a purist, so perhaps I am more forgiving of such changes.

I probably feel that Durante gets a bit more emotion out of Act II, but I am rather prejeudiced about Miss D.


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Jenny Delaney

08-07-99, 01:37 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Giselle - Royal Ballet Opening Night"
In response to message #3
 
   I suspect I fall halfway between. I adore watching Guillem, not least because she constantly surprises me in her dramatic range. I do dislike high extensions in the first act, and Guillem, while fully capable of convincing as a teenager, can't quite pull off being a shy teenager with a weak heart.

But in the second act, I don't remotely mind massive extensions. It emphasises the difference between the living Giselle and the spirit. Unlike Eugene, I think it looks fantastic with a Romantic tutu, and Guillem was superbly ethereal. Since I'm used to her in more dramatic roles, it was a revelation to watch her floating around the stage in this - she seemed as though she didn't need Hilaire to help her.

The corps were excellent, and Sara Gallie and Gillian Revie good as Myrtha's attendants, but I was disappointed in Nicola Tranah's Myrtha. No sense of menace, and she looked shaky in her opening solo, which, in my opinion, needs absolute confidence and authority to pull it off.

And Belinda Hatley was gorgeous in the lead in the pas de six.

But one thing that always strikes me about Giselle is that the men in that area must be a complete bunch of stinkers - that's an awful lot of girls who topped themselves because they were ditched just before their wedding.


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Runcible Asever

08-07-99, 07:23 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: Giselle - Royal Ballet Opening Night"
In response to message #2
 
   >Agnes Lestestu and Maya Dumchenko also have
>Gulliemish leg extensions - but it
>looks OK because their legs are
>smaller. Also it looks better
>with a tutu then a skirt
>because the tutu does not cloak
>the leg making it look bigger.
>
>I should emphasise that leg extensions not
>withstanding it was a FINE performance!!
>
>But if I instinctively turn my head
>away from a dancer what I
>can I say? I never
>thought I would be physically repelled
>at something in ballet! It
>is certainly not what ballet is
>about.

Can someone please clarify what I am reading above? I find it hard to believe *anyone* could find Sylvie's legs repelling. And "enormous"? Have I tumbled into some evil, twisted parallel universe?

It is a pleasure to see these legs, unlike any other dancer in active duty today. There are imitations, and rather good ones, but none with the same expressivity or impact of Guillem. Close, but NO CIGAR.

Interesting how we cannot appreciate an interpretation that varies from what we have come to expect. Guillem's Giselle has been long criticized by those who remember Chauviré, Ulanova, or Fracci. We are talking of a *very* different Ballerina here. Makarova was criticized for being too over the top dramatically. Can anyone deny that her performance was still relevant - powerful?

Always easy to be a critic. Too bad we often attack instead of appreciate art. Most extreme comments like these come from those with very little practical appreciation for the difficulty of performing these ballets. Put on a tutu, dance the ballet, then we can talk.


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Anneliese

09-07-99, 08:58 AM (GMT)
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6. "RE: Giselle - Royal Ballet Opening Night"
In response to message #5
 
   THe reason Sylvie isn't a favourite dancer of mine is because I don't like her skinny legs! Like a baby giraffe or a foal, tiny thighs and calves with big knee joints. Enormous? I think you need new opera glasses, Eugene!


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Eugene Merrett

09-07-99, 10:06 AM (GMT)
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7. "RE: Giselle - Royal Ballet Opening Night"
In response to message #6
 
   I think Runcible Asever response deserves comment. I tend to analyse productions more then dancers. This is precisely because I do appreciate the hard work dancers endure for their art and the fact that it so subjective as to make proper assesment difficult. If you look at my video reviews I speak very highly of all the dancers and conveniantly ignore not so good perfromances.

You also imply that only ballet dancers should write critism (put on a tutu, dance the ballet, then we can talk). Obviously it can be frustrating for dancer to bare the brunt of critism from those who have never danced in their lives. Impertinance this may be but I think the world would be a poorer place without the views of Clement Crisp, Clive Barnes and many people who write for this site.

I do not think the purpose of a critic is to shock or to creat a strong reaction. I think the most important thing a critic should do is analyse and then give opinions (esp if it is a controversial). This allows other readers to form their own opinion based on what I have said. People who love Ms Gulliem style will draw a different conclusion from my assesment.

I should emphasise that this would have been one of the better performances of Giselle if it had not been for those leg extension.

I am not the only one who does not like Ms Gulliem leg extension. Clement Crisp (and several of my friends) feel the same way! So I think it was wrong of you to dismiss my opinions with such contempt. In this respect I am in good company (albeit very much a minority company!).

Just to show you that I am not anti -Gulliem I loved her Forsythe work enormously. Infact I wont see anyone else in it! I think it that type of dance there is place for the ultra high leg extensions! I would also pay big money to Ms Gulliem dance in Don Q.


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Stephanie

09-07-99, 10:42 AM (GMT)
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8. "RE: Giselle - Royal Ballet Opening Night"
In response to message #6
 
   Well not only was I a very sad woman last night by waiting by the stage door for her - BUT she also hugged me (too much for one girl to take in!). Close up her legs were definately not too big.


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