Giselle is a pretty and delicate ballet but there are very sinister undertones which become obvious in the second act. Act One is set in a village populated by very attractive villagers in tones of ocher. They celebrate the ripening of the grapes, carrying big baskets overflowing with the fruit and there is a happy atmosphere . The interaction between the villagers, her mother, her suitor and her new lover gives for very expressive and energetic dance to music by Adolphe Adam under the baton of Gavin Sutherland. Giselle (Jurgita Dronina) is the most charming of them all and has no shortage of suitors but she loses her heart to a new comer, Loys (Isaac Hernandez) and ignores the others. They dance together and their set pieces are delightful and you do get a feeling of joy on the stage. But, and there is a big but, Loys is really the Duke of Silesia already betrothed and when she discovers this she is rightly annoyed that she has been deceived to the extent of stabbing herself and dying of a broken heart!
Now this is a mystical village and legend has it that when a young woman dies of a broken heart she becomes a sylph like spirit called a Wili, destined to dance a ghostly dance between midnight and four in the morning. To me this was the highlight of the evening, the precision work of the corp de ballet in their drifting dresses and floral head dresses. There are eighteen in total and I felt the stage was just too small to do them justice, bring on the Queen of the Wilis and her friends and there is a swirl of bodies gliding from one side of the forest to the other. Giselle rises from her grave to join the Wilis in their beautiful dance, en pointe, and their revenge on any man who wanders into their world during the night.
There is frantic movement when some of the huntsmen wander too near the and how the sad young romantics whirl and twirl round the men is breathtaking, thankfully the boys escape but when Loys comes to the grave of his lover during the hours of darkness to leave his lilies and express his grief, you just know he won’t be so lucky.
The two are reunited in graceful and sad dance before he falls exhausted and dead as Giselle and the Wilis return to their graves.
The dance of the Wilis is impressive and the calibre of the English National Ballet is extremely high and it was pleasing to see so many young girls in the audience being offered such a high standard of discipline and talent.
Grand Opera House Belfast
until Saturday 24th June 2017
Matinee Thursday 2 p.m. and Saturday 2.30