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Subject: "Giselle - thursday night" Archived thread - Read only
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Eugene Merrett

16-07-99, 10:13 AM (GMT)
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"Giselle - thursday night"
   After her successful debut with the ABT Durante makes a much welcomed return to London. I personally thing she is the best interpreter of Giselle today. It is her extraordinarily powerful acting ability then makes her so good. Sometimes I think she comes on too strong and therefore I prefer to see her from a distance – i.e. without my binoculars. It is however a very conventional interpretation – a lively if rather frail peasant girl in the first act and a deep impassioned spirit in the second act. That is meant with no disrespect – originality does not automatically imply better!

It is clear that Durante is not everyone’s taste. But I think there is no denying the extraordinary effect when partnered by Mukhamadev. The performance becomes very special. It is the glorious pas de deux in the second act that I can never forget. The lifts were ravishingly beautiful to watch. In fact this is the best pas de deux I have seen in any ballet! It was the highlight of the evening. This is entirely due to the deep understanding the two dancers have for each other.

Irek Mukhamadev does not have the power he use to have – but he shows remarkable stamina. Although noted for his Bolshoi power (which he no longer really has) he has developed into a very refined and graceful dancer. His powerful acting ability and sensuality complements Durante perfectly. I think there is still some more dancing years left in his body.

I was delighted at the performance of Christine McDermott. It is curious as to why she does not receive the same attention as other first soloist such as Hatley and Wildor. I think she is just as good! As Myrtha she had more grace, speed and ballon (the attribute I prize more then any thing else in ballet) then Yanowsky. I think McDermott should be the “first” Myrtha of the Royal Ballet.

I am afraid to say that Sara Gallie really does show up Nicola Roberts in the peasant pas de deux. She was stronger, and lighter then Roberts. She also demonstrated a much higher technical standard. Quite frankly I think it is time to put Ms Roberts to pasture. She has been with the company for more then 18 years so she has had a good innings. But it is clear that she is not the dancer she use to be!

The more I see Wright’s production the more I am impressed by it. I particularly like the use of the pas de six as a replacement to the out of place pas de deux. It is very effective in the way it leads the all the ensemble dances. The result is a more naturalistic Giselle. Definitely Wright’s Giselle plays to the RB strength which is dramatic ability. I have seen many Giselles but this one is the best of them all! I have not seen the San Francisco version .It has received rave reviews from Jenny and Dancing Times. But I think the RB version will be hard to beat!

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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Giselle - thursday night Sally 16-07-99 1
  RE: Giselle - thursday night amy besa 16-07-99 2
     RE: Giselle - thursday night Eugene Merrett 16-07-99 3
  RE: Giselle - thursday night vs Guillem last week Jessica Hanner 16-07-99 4

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16-07-99, 01:08 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Giselle - thursday night"
In response to message #0
   A brilliant performance by both Durante and Mukhamedov. Her dancing had the lightest of touches in the first act coupled with her usual musicality and her dramatic skills which fit perfectly in this role. A very moving mad scene without being over the top. The second act was better than I have seen in the past as the interpretation made you see echos of the flesh and blood Giselle of Act 1. It has been said that Durante can appear too remote - not on Thursday night's viewing. Mukhamedov was brilliant in Act 2 and as always the perfect partner which made the pas de deux quite exceptional both in perfect harmony. The audience seemed to respond to the wonderful performances. A thoroughly enjoyable evening. And yes, I would agree that Durante is one of the Royal's best Giselles. Thumbs up for Christina McDermott, Morera and Chloe Davies but I am not so sure about the group dances in the first act.

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amy besa

16-07-99, 04:17 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Giselle - thursday night"
In response to message #0
   I was quite surprised to read Durante's performance described as "coming on too strong" and "quite conventional." I was lucky enough to see her in her ABT Giselle with Jose Manuel Carreno and it is one of the greatest Giselles I have ever seen. I was transfixed, mesmerized and blown away. I had never seen anything like it! And as I watched her through my binoculars I saw all the little details and nuances she put into her acting esp in the mad scene. I credit her performance for deepening my understanding of what goes on in Giselle's mind those last moments before her death. And what's more, her acting brought out the beauty and logic of the music. And that's when I realized, she's not totally acting, she's dancing!

An ABT administrator who is a friend of mine told me that the whole company (ABT) watched her from the wings with their jaws hanging. Her words were "We have never seen anything like it! It was so special."

In the second act, she was equally incredible -- a beautiful, strong spirit protecting the man she loves. I had watched other performances of Carreno, but I could see that he had become Albrecht because of her. (I saw a later performance of Giselle with him and Ananiashvili and the chemistry was no longer there.) At the very end, I loved the fact that as she holds his hand for the last time, she lifts her 2 fingers up to declare her eternal love for him (a fitting bookend to his doing that in the first act as a sign of fecklessness). This is a missing detail from the Kirov version which I keep looking for.

You are so lucky to have her. We only have to hope that she comes and visit NYC again.

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Eugene Merrett

16-07-99, 05:32 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Giselle - thursday night"
In response to message #2
   I did not mean that dis-respectively - she is such an intensely dramatic dancer that some times I have to step back a bit!

It is incredible what you are telling us about Durante! Let us know please if you have the time!

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Jessica Hanner

16-07-99, 10:40 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Giselle - thursday night vs Guillem last week"
In response to message #0
   I totally agree that Durante is something else as Giselle.

I was lucky enough to see both her and Guillem in the role. Both were excellent but Durante has the edge.

I am not totally sure why this is. I can see why people are not keen on Guillem's use of extension when dancing the role. However this is part of her style and I do agree that she adds something because of it in the second act to the impresssion of being ethereal.

This is not to say that she doesn't bring more "earthly" touches to her role. Her mimes with her mother (Gerd Larsen I think) are very touching and add to the impression that it is a real girl who is in LOVE suffers and then kills herself.

However, it is in the mad scene and second act that Durante really marks herself as a caste apart. I did view her closely through binoculars and the look on her face as she discovered the deception of Albrecht and as she danced to some invisible music as she went mad was revelatory.

So too was her interaction with Mukhamedov in the second act. The pas de deux was wonderful - simply because you genuinely believed he was a foolish young man who now realised that a girl he loved was dead as a result of his stupidity.

Christina McDermott (who I admit I have not always been a great fan of) was terrific as Myrthe. She was a graceful menance of a phantom bringing plausibility as well as technical elegance to a difficult role.

In short, I loved Durante but appreciated Guillem in the role. The real test was that Durante and Mukhamedov made me cry which (good as they were) Guillem and Hilaire didn't.

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