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 Post subject: Guillem's Giselle (La Scala Ballet Tours US - Part 2)
PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2001 11:42 am 
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First posted on ballet.co<P>Last night I saw Giselle at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Southern California. I had an OK seat in the orchestra section - too far to the right so part of stage right was blocked by the curtain.<P>After I came home I watched parts of the La Scala film version with Ferri and Murru so that I could make some comparisons between the traditional version and Sylvie’s. <P>It is hard to do that with only one viewing of the newer Giselle, but here are my first impressions.<P>It seems to me that when a choreographer is going to rework a classic, the resulting work should be more than just different. <P>It should bring a new emotion to the piece, a new aesthetic. To be innovative and not just dissimilar.<P>This version did not meet that criteria.<P>Evidently Sylvie was trying to achieve a more realistic look at the ballet. <P>Well, a piece with dead girls dancing is not a realistic ballet to begin with!<P>Hilaire broke his foot in rehearsal so had to be replaced by Murru - who was great as Albrecht. I thought his performance was much better than on Wednesday night in Carmen. <P>His line was long and elegant with terrific jumps, neat feet and graceful hands that were not wimpy.<P>Hilarion, Andrea Volpintesta, was also very good - in the small amount of dance he did. His opening scene was lost behind a scrim and bad, bad lighting, which remained rather dim the whole ballet.<P>Sylvie danced beautifully, but not memorably, if that makes sense. Her choreography in Act I is almost ballet-lite - rather simplistic with many 180-degree, 'six o'clock' leg lifts. Impressive the first few times you see it, but then too much of a good thing is not a good thing.<P> At first I thought the lack of dance in the first act was so that Sylvie could show off more - nope, she didn't do that either!<P>The main set was drab — a movable thing that made a shallow stage even more shallow in the first act. It swung around and I could never figure out WHY! It was very annoying.<P>One side was Giselle’s front door and I think the other side was meant to be the opposite side of the street, it was hard to tell. <P>So what you had was a wide set piece that split the stage in half depth wise; drastically reducing the amount of actual dance space. Traditional would have been better here.<P>At the end of Act One the flat piece opened up into a three-sided tavern - which was pretty neat - bottles hanging down from the air added a “pub” feel to it.<P>If the set was drab then the costumes were more so. I read that the dresses and such were created by some big designer. Well, they were simply ugly. Bad hats and scarves covering up the girls hair.<P>They looked like the dresses my great-grandmother would have worn tilling the fields in the wild west. <P>No colour. Nothing to make them stand apart from the set. It all blended together in one brownish mush. Even Sylvie’s blue dress was drab.<P>The dancers wore NO makeup — which was ok if one was in the orchestra section of the house, but those poor people up in the tiers must not have been able to see any facial expressions I'll bet.<P>In comparing last night’s version with the film, much dance was left out - not nearly as much peasant dancing in the opening. <P>The wonderful peasant pdd by Deborah Gismondi and Antonio Sutera was reduced to one solo each. The dancers were very good in the limited amount of space they had but the few lifts and jumps were constrained.<P>Evidently Sylvie reduced the amount of mime to make for a cleaner story - but it didn’t really work all that well. Hard to tell what was going on if one didn’t know the story.<P>The loves me-loves me not flower scene was so understated and quick you could hardly see what was happening. Again I wonder what the folks in the tiers could see.<BR> <BR>During the very long intermission ( they had to chance floors) I talked with several people. They like what they saw but were not hugely impressed ... one guy said, lots of motion, but not a lot of dance.<P>The applause was respectful, but not overwhelming.<P>Act II.<P>The stage was littered with these big faux boulders— three Wilis danced out among them — nice floating bourees. <P>Their costumes were quite lovely - variations on different wedding dresses. Very effective.<P>The three girls danced a bit and the rocks rose - up and up and up and there they hung. They blocked some of the light that was supposed to be on the dancers!<P>The corps and queen Wilis (Beatrice Carbone) actually had the best dance!<P>This was one part that I liked better than the traditional version. The Wilis’ movements were more lyrical and less rigid than in the film.<P>The theater had lighting problems in the second act. One key light wouldn’t stay on and another side/back light kept flashing just off-stage making it look as if the scene had poor lightning effects happening.<P>One of the things Guillem could have changed for the better would have been less walking around in the mourning scene of Act II<P>The Ferri version has Albrecht entering and walking around emoting to beautiful music in the Act II opening.<BR> <BR>Last night the walking around seems to have been increased and there was less emoting.<P>This would have been a great opportunity for Guillem to add some poignant adagio dancing for Albrecht.<BR> <BR>Technical problems caused the ending of the ballet to lose some of its impact. One of the smoke machines at the end made so much hissing noise it totally disrupted the tragic flow. Very disconcerting to say the least.<P>Lest I sound too negative, all in all I am glad I went. There was good dance - just too little of it.<P>I saw Sylvie dance and that was a treat because she is such a name. There were some good moments but just not enough to go WOW.<P>There was a long standing ovation at the end which told me that people really appreciated the second act. Murru was especially treated well as was Guillem.<P>My sense is that this is a somewhat condensed version of the traditional. And shorter in this case does not mean better.


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 Post subject: Re: Guillem's Giselle (La Scala Ballet Tours US - Part 2)
PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2001 8:43 pm 
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Thank you, LaraH for the opening night impressions. I just got back from Saturday night's performance and am still scratching my head...<P>BTW, this discussion continues from the <a href=../../../ubb/Forum4/HTML/000890.html target=_blank><B>La Scala Ballet Tours US - Part 1</B></a> thread.<P>And, for a past thread on Guillem's <I>Giselle</I>, including reviews of the first performances, by shocked critics, go to <a href=../../../ubb/Forum4/HTML/000635.html target=_blank><B>Guillem's production of 'Giselle'</B></a>.<P>Finally, this is a thread on <a href=../../../ubb/Forum4/HTML/000953.html target=_blank><B>The Mystique of 'Giselle'</B></a>.<p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited July 14, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: Guillem's Giselle (La Scala Ballet Tours US - Part 2)
PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2001 9:02 pm 
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I see... Guillem was motivated by irritation...<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><B>Sylvie Guillem: A Star Brings Tough Love to a Classic Ballet</B><P>ALAN RIDING, NY Times<P>MILAN -- GIVEN the raw star power that allows Sylvie Guillem to do much as she pleases, it is perhaps odd that the idolized French dancer is launching her career as a choreographer with a work that has long irritated her. "Giselle," she feels, is simply unconvincing as a narrative, at least in the traditional versions that she has frequently danced. And yet, when approached in the mid-1990's to make a ballet movie of her choice, she proposed "Giselle" as best suited to the screen.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/15/arts/dance/15ALAN.html" TARGET=_blank><B>More</B></A><P><BR>Footnote: Alan Riding's article mentions Laurent Hilaire in the role of Albrecht. Unfortunately, Hilaire is injured and flew home today.


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 Post subject: Re: Guillem's Giselle (La Scala Ballet Tours US - Part 2)
PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2001 4:31 am 
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LaraH,<BR> I read with interest your critic of Sylvie Guillem’s Giselle. <BR> I am still just reeling from finding this forum—it is simply wonderful to have a resource such as this and not have to rely on Dance Magazine and the rest of the sparse arts coverage we get in this country. Your description was very detailed and gave a good overview of the performance. <BR> As a die-hard traditionalist, however, it doesn’t sound like a version I would enjoy. Perhaps my tastes are too plebian, but I always have problems with updates and re-workings of any “classic.” <BR> If I am in any way familiar with the tradition version, these new editions always seem too dissonant and tend to detract from the overall production (for me at least) rather than add any new dimensions. Hence I have similar problems with the recent “new” versions of Shakespeare—the most recent Hamlet and DiCarprio Romeo+Juliet for example. <BR> That being said, if it happens to come to Detroit (which it probably won’t) I would probably go and see it just to see Guillem and to be able to judge for my self. You are indeed fortunate to live in an area where there is ready access to the major tours. Perhaps she will bring her production to Chicago. Thanks again for the report.<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Guillem's Giselle (La Scala Ballet Tours US - Part 2)
PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2001 7:00 am 
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Thanks lara for your speedy report. I'm sure most of the ballet fans in London will be breathing easier on hearing that Sylvie is dancing again. I don't know what the current position is with ticket sales for the La Scala performances here, but I'm sure that it would be much harder for the Hochhausers to sell the tickets at $110 if Sylvie isn't dancing.


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 Post subject: Re: Guillem's Giselle (La Scala Ballet Tours US - Part 2)
PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2001 8:19 am 
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Stuart,<P>That is for sure! I wonder how they will feel paying that much for less dance in Giselle.<P>Did you read the New York Times story for this morning?<P>Guillem refuses to portray that much pain through dancing - used as an explanation as to why there is no dance in the mad scene at the end of act one.<P>I went to the ballet to see dance - not just acting.<P>And even here, where ticket prices are not quite so high it was too expensive for the condensed version of Giselle.<P>Lara


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 Post subject: Re: Guillem's Giselle (La Scala Ballet Tours US - Part 2)
PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2001 10:46 am 
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“Giselle”<BR>Teatro alla Scala Ballet Company<BR>Orange County Performing Arts Center, July 14, 2001, 8 p.m.<P>The artist who wishes to repaint the Mona Lisa takes the chance that the enigmatic smile will turn into a frown. To call the ballet danced by the La Scala Ballet Company, choreographed by Sylvie Guillem, after Marius Petipa, Jean Coralli, and Jules Perrot, “Giselle” is to sell a ticket for another ballet to a possibly unsuspecting audience. This production needs a new name. Might I suggest “Giselle sans Mystique”?<P>The concept of this version seems to be to attempt to clothe and set the ballet in a more realistic framework. No totally happy peasants these, and no idyllic village. This village is more a town with it's drunkard, it’s laundresses, workers and children. These are peasants in dull workaday clothes, carrying baskets and bundles; mundane, everyday, mud in the streets reality. <P> The stage is bisected by a severe wall designed by Paul Brown, with a door at one end and a larger square opening at the other. Occasionally the wall rotates, but only to show a window on the other side. There seems no real reason for it to rotate. This set effectively cuts the dance space in half, restricting amplitude of movement and putting everything on the same plane. Depth of perception is lost.<P>Drab, drab is all before us. Costuming designed by Paul Brown is in shades of brown, black and tan. Pointe shoes are covered with dark brown over the ankle stockings to simulate boots, I suppose. One can have classical pointe shoes and pointe work or one can have boots, but in my opinion, there cannot be both. <P> Is this realism? Real peasant ethnic dress is very colorful. This is a wine festival and surely at such a time the wonderful embroidered shirts, skirts, hats and laces would be displayed. The eye longs for color.<P>Additionally, the entire first act is hampered by the dim lighting designed by Pascal Noel, the shallow stage, and distracting village characters. A perpetuum of motion, but a lack of dancing. The mad scene takes place within a claustrophobic set of wooden walls. Are we indoors? Yet, with all the problems, Sylvia Guillem acted out her madness well. <P>Like life imitating art, I hoped during the 35 minute intermission that the second act would redeem the first. It did and it didn’t. Gone the rotating wall, we are now in a forest glade. Though Myrtha is well danced by Beatrice Carbone, this production gives her no opportunity to introduce us to her severe character and her control of her wili world. She seems one of many rather than a malevolent ruler. <P> One of my favorite moments in Giselle second act is the crescendo culminating in traveling voyagés by the assembled wilis as their lines crisscross. I found the corps de ballet executing this difficult pas heavily, weightedly, and in reminding me of gravity, lost their mystique.<P>Costuming for this act was in various versions of wedding dresses, all at an unfortunate ankle length. This effectively negated any display of line and curve. In croisé positions, visibility of movement was zero. No curve of attitude, no open line of arabesque. Guillem’s batterie, usually a technical highlight of a ballerina’s Giselle, was abbreviated and inhibited by the costuming. A severe loss. <P> Massimo Murru’s Albrecht was believable and well done, however, much was lost as he was clothed in black trousers against a dark forest gloom. The princely attribute of his alter ego was subverted by his costuming, he was given no opportunity. <P>And yet, when the wiles float off in the mist of morning, and Giselle pauses and returns for a final farewell to Albrecht, it was a most effective and poignant moment.<P>Altogether many problems exist with this production. The entire prologue set behind a scrim and poorly lit was lost to view and understanding. In staging the flower petal scene against a side wall, this effectively cut the scene off from the view of the audience on that side of the theater. The very brief peasant pas de deux was cleanly danced by Antonino Sutera, and shakily danced by Lara Montanaro. <P>Giselle requires of us a leap of faith, a suspension of reality. However, this version of Giselle tries to give us reality and then asks us to believe in magic. One cancels out the other. Love may triumph, but the necessary breath of magic does not.<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Guillem's Giselle (La Scala Ballet Tours US - Part 2)
PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2001 2:51 pm 
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Interesting. I read today's NY Times interview with Sylvie FIRST, and then read all the various impressions and reviews on this thread later. Without having seen the ballet: I must say I was impressed with Guillem's explanation and rationalization regarding her somewhat cineamtic re-staging of this classic. Her explanation of the individual peasants having individual personalities and tasks reminded me of Method acting. But from the accounts of this thread, it sounds like the results were decidely mixed. I guess ballet is about illusion, so a purely realistic portrayal might be a bit of a contradiction. Again, I didnt' see the ballet, I am merely having a purely aesthetic discussion.


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 Post subject: Re: Guillem's Giselle (La Scala Ballet Tours US - Part 2)
PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2001 3:51 pm 
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For the program notes of her production of Giselle, Guillem speaks with a frustration concerning the course Giselle has taken over time. She mentions Gautier and Heine's ideas being "buried by stiff, choreographic, purely mechanical movements...becoming a kind of incoherent language that was supposed to "speak" the story." She then adds, "I have tried to rediscover the real Giselle, to make th blood flow in the veins of the various characters." With the exception of a few troublesome set designs and orientation, I am convinced that she did exactly that.<P>Initially, the most noticable difference between Guillem's Giselle and the more traditional productions reveals itself in the sets and costumes. Disposing of the typical left stage shed and right stage home, Paul Brown opted for one main wall, cumbersomely situated in the center of the stage. Everytime the scene changed from one side of the house to the other, the wall whirred noisily around in a circle,interrupting the music. It introducting an industrial noise which reminds us all that we are not in Giselle's village, but in the 21st century, using technology in the wrong way with regards to providing fully enjoyable performance. Not only was the noise problematic, but the division of stage space became a highly disagreeable situation. Because of its central position, the wall cut off half of the stage's depth, leaving the corps and character dancers to fend for themselves, frantically shuffling out of the way when the male leads embarked on their grand jetes. <P>As far as costumes were concerned, Brown eliminated the kitschy, Alice-in-Wonderland style dress that Giselle usually dons, and instead clothed her in a lengthy, fluid, watery-blue dress. In truth, it looked about as ordinary as something purchased from the Land's End catalogue, only in silk, but ir worked well with the tone of Guillem's production and the character of the other costumes. None of the men wore tights, but instead revelled and frolicked in trousers that were obviously well-designed for each dancer. None of the performers seemed hindered by their dress, except perhaps for Gismondi, whose full-skirted dress got in the way with some of the turns in the pas de deux. <P>This change in costuming reflected the change in dramatic focus which Guillem brought to this production. One can almost feel the dramatic past in Guillem, and see the marvelous danseurs that shaped her through her choreography and dramatic direction. namely Nureyev. By keeping the peasants in more realistic clothing, rather than tights and fluffy tutus, the entire mood of the First Act was brought out from this stale and fixed fairy tale picture of Giselle, to a lively and thriving image of a town during "crush" season. The choreography featured more folk and character dancing than other productions I have seen, wrapping the audience up in its festivities. I felt as if I could have been a part of the celebrations rather than someone viewing a group of professionally trained dancers, performing French dancing steps to perfection, whilst pretending to be mere peasants. Besides a more realistic corps, Guillem proved to be a master of the dramatic, as she properly choreographed the correct amount of flirting between Giselle and Albrecht, without becoming sugary sweet. Perhaps it was Massimo Muru's acting, or the chemistry of their partnership that evening, but somehow the two dancers portrayed an incredibly believable love that made the story seem more of the present than of the past. The tiniest touches inbetween a few flighty steps, a look, a glance, or a caress made all the difference in creating a separate persona which was the love between Giselle and Albrecht. Muru's acting capabilities served him well when, after being discovered as royalty, he attempted to sweet-talk matters with his fiancee. His desperation was brutally apparent, and Serena Colombi as Bathilde mocked Albrecht's mistake beautifully. Unfortunately, Laura Costa as Berthe, did not match up dramatically to her fellow performers. Perhaps simply miscast, Costa portrayed nothing more believable than a few weak arms held out to her daughter during Giselle's mad scene. She was not strong enough in her pleadings for Giselle to stop dancing, nor could she maintain that steady, hard, driving presence of order, power, and love, that mothers possess. She did have one redeeming quality however, that being her violent thrust of Albrecht after he dove for Giselle's corpse. If only she had acted with such passion in earlier scenes. <P>Guillem's dancing has not suffered over the years. The last time I saw her perform was in Nureyev's "Cinderella" with Paris Opera. Her fluidity melts one, her passion for dancing and Albrecht excites one, and her precision and extensions amaze one. The arabesque of her ballonees were really that of a penchee, and her second position she holds at practically 180 degrees, without thinking twice about it. Her smile remained captivating throughout, and her mad scene was fantastic yet indefinable. I could not categorize it, or say that it was like so and so's but...etc., it was Sylvie's pure and simple. I find myself without words to do justice to that aspect of the performance.<P>I only have a few issues with the costumes and lighting in the second act. It was an obvious intention to present the Wilis in individual wedding gowns in order to emphasize the individual cases and sufferings of each girl. Rather than a collective mass of ghosts with one star, there were twenty-four women, each betrayed in a different way. I have no problems with this idea, however, the actual designs of the dresses I found most distracting. They ranged in design from Dior's New Look of the 1950's to the tacky '80's, and then there was an attempt of inclusive ethnicity with a half-sari gown baring the midriff. Perhaps I would not have minded the variety if they had in some way related to one another, or if they were simply more slight variations of a classic, unoffensive design. It definitely took away from the mystery and eeriness of these spirits of the night. The ballerina's pointe shoes needed to be banged some more on the concrete outside of the theater, for they were too loud for Wilis, and unfortunately the soles of Guillem's shoes were distractingly squeaky during the classic promenade in first arabesque. The lighting I also found rather harsh, making some of the tackier gowns glare in its direct light. The noisy sets continued with the rather obnoxious fog machines, as they were anything but silent.<P>The dancing maintained a satisfying consistency within the dancers of the corps. I did not find myself nitpicking over faulty technique and sloppy corps dancing. The Wilis remained beautifully uniform and even in their dance, as automatic as it should be. <BR>Andrea Volpintesta's Hilarion was not disappointing in the least. His dancing was fluid yet athletic, and his death, clutching his heart mid-air in a jump, was over-the-top dramatic, yet breathtakingly beautiful.<P>Perhaps my favorite part of the entire ballet was Albrecht's entrance into the 2nd act. I saw the cape, and was wondering if Musso would be able to carry it the way Nureyev always did. That however, was not applicable, for upon entering Musso merely stepped regretfully. If ever there was a physical embodiment of remorse, it occurred Friday night on that stage through Musso's portrayal of Albrecht. After reaching mid-way downstage-left, Musso held his head in his hands, and the cape simply fell to the floor, obviously echoing what his body would have wanted to do at the time, and what he would do later: collapse. Musso's dancing, no longer hampered by "the wall" of the first act, took over the stage, especially with his cabrioles,which not only flew, but showcased his extensions. His tours were exceptional, as he landed ALL of the fifths that I witnessed. I have never seen such precision in the landings of jumps, and Musso must be commended for this.<P>Guillem's Giselle seemed to love him even more after her death, although her believable acting was something of a cost to her ghostliness. She was not as spirit-like as most Giselle's, but after death she seemed to have matured from a girl to a woman, if that is possible. Her hair remains in the long braid she wore during the first act, a constant reminder of her young and happy peasant days. After the bells ring to announce the Wilis' retreat, she moves in a series of achingly bittersweet bourrees towards and away from Albrecht, while he eventually crumples to the ground after one final stroke of her cheek. <P>All in all, I was completely sold on Guillem's new take on Giselle. It doesn't hurt that she is a fantastic dancer, whose knack for the dramatic, both in her own character and in others successfully pulls off her production. The polished dancing of both the corps and the stars is something I have seen lacking in my recent viewing of American companies, and was refreshing to see. <P>I shall now read the reviews of others, and see if I can find comapny in my recently found satisfaction!


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 Post subject: Re: Guillem's Giselle (La Scala Ballet Tours US - Part 2)
PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2001 4:25 pm 
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danzcrayz what a great first posting! Welcome to criticaldance and many thanks for sharing your pleasure in the La Scala 'Giselle' with us. I will see it here in London in about 3 weeks.<P>Looking forward to reading many more posts from you over the coming months.


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 Post subject: Re: Guillem's Giselle (La Scala Ballet Tours US - Part 2)
PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2001 4:56 pm 
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Having never seen the original version of "Gissell", I had no idea what to expect when I saw Saturday night's performance. Despite a lack of previous experience, something felt strangely amiss. After careful consideration and reading the other reviews, I have a few thoughts.<P>First of all, realism in ballet is not something I look for in a "classic." For me, one of the essential ingredients of a classic ballet is fantasy; the woman who dies and becomes a willi, the evil wizard who intervenes in a passionate love, toys that come to life. If one tries to add realism to any of these, they change the very nature of the story, the very escapeism I look for in the tale being spun. <P>I did enjoy seeing more realistic acting on the part of the leads. I felt much more connected to them as it further communicated the emotions they were so used to miming. It was almost as if the dancers revelled in the added depth it allowed them. However, extending this to each and every member of the corps overwhelmed at times, compelling my roommate to make the comment this revamped version should more approriately have been called "Le Gis." I would rather have seen the acting left to the leads and the corp blend more into the background than they did. <P>Contrary to the previous post, I did not care for the constuming on the willi in the second act. When they stood on stage (at times blocking the audiences view), I was struck with the though I was seeing an Annie Leibowitz photo session for a Vera Wang catalogue. I doubt this is what we were supposed to be thinking at that moment.<P>Rather than cover points already made, I'll say this. This version felt like it was an attempt at something greater, a new vision instead of a "tweak" as Guillem described it in one interview. I suggest it would have benefitted from a radical reinvention instead. Classics are notoriously difficult things to "tweak." Too many people have too many preconceived expectations surrounding them. I believe she should have gone farther with this version. As mentioned in another post, Romeo and Juliet has seen success of late in newer forms. The motion picture version of Romeo+Juliet simply changed the setting. Westside Story updated the story though the central theme was changed to reflect more contemporary beliefs. Both updates on a classic worked very well.<P>I did enjoy most of the performance last night. But I now know why I left feeling unsatistied. I simply wanted more. I wanted her to go further with her vision than she did. I feel she was onto something but stopped just shy. If she would just go that extra step and commit to a bigger vision, I think we would have seen something truly amazing. <P>


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 Post subject: Re: Guillem's Giselle (La Scala Ballet Tours US - Part 2)
PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2001 5:07 pm 
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Interesting thoughts '2 left feet'. Maybe something we need to bear in mind is that, as far as I know, this is Sylvie's first choreographic venture. Of course, most people would start with a workshop piece and then a chamber work, but of course that's tricky when you have as big a profile as Sylvie. <P>That shouldn't stop us from criticising the work, but it's worth considering the pointers to be drawn from the work as to her future development as a choreographer.


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 Post subject: Re: Guillem's Giselle (La Scala Ballet Tours US - Part 2)
PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2001 10:09 pm 
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This is definitely not my mother's <I>Giselle</I>. Or any mother's for that matter.<P>There is much in Ms Guillem's production that is unexpected for the serious balletomane who is familiar with the form and language of more traditional <I>Giselle</I> productions. However I suspect though that those new to ballet would find this production not only stimulating but also perhaps less nonsensical due to Guillem's more grounded and theatrical approach to the choreography.<P>But first, an important note: in spite of all of Guillem's assault on the tradition of <I>Giselle the Ballet</I>, artistic and otherwise, and in spite of the over-abundance of sex in La Scala's Program 1, I am happy to have experienced no sex at all in this otherwise earthy production. Hmm, in fact, that is the crux of Giselle, isn't it? Giselle, having died while a virgin (one has to assume she is the type of girl to wait), gets to join... err... become one of the Wilis... that deadly band of otherwordly maidens.<P>The Wilis are a hoot, aren't they? But, what's so bad -- for a straight guy -- about being danced to death by a bevy of beautiful women? For any man who loves dance <I>and</I> women, a fate at the hands of the Wilis isn't so bad, is it? If you could choose a way to go, wouldn't you prefer this option to the usual mundane methods of execution? But then again how exactly do these spiritual beauties force a man to dance... to his death...<P>As nonsensical as Act II of Giselle is, it remains the least fantastical Classical/Romantic ballet, with a dark psychological undercurrent and a story rooted less in fantasy than say the very fairy tale <I>Sleeping Beauty</I> or the highly imaginative <I>Swan Lake</I>. One reason story ballets are, um, hokey is the story. Another is the mime acting, at worst cartoonish and at best bewildering to the uninitiated. Sylvie Guillem, ballerina extraordinaire and now choreographer noveau, dares to challenge conventions in bringing to life a new <I>Giselle</I> in a production that has been labelled "controversial" by making the story more realistic, doing away with the mime, and adding theatrical elements to enliven the stage. In the end however, she ends up with grounded Wilis and subdued village folk.<P>Since everyone from published critics to equally knowledgeable members of this forum have expounded on what makes this <I>Giselle</I> different from all the other <I>Giselles</I> and since an essay on this topic can easily turn into a dissertation, let me just say that a theatrical staging does not work in a ballet, at least not in this one. Awkward props and awkward costumes lead to awkward lines and awkward dancing. And that was what I saw in this ballet.<P>A press release read, "In a spectacular artistic coup, the Orange County Performing Arts Center will present the American premiere of Sylvie Guillem's production of <I>Giselle</I> performed by the Teatro all Scala Ballet Company of Milan." I wonder if they should not have clarified that this was a new <I>Giselle</I> and not one our mothers would have seen or even enjoyed; or perhaps insisted on changing the name of the ballet to, let's say, <I>Les Wilis</I>.


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 Post subject: Re: Guillem's Giselle (La Scala Ballet Tours US - Part 2)
PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2001 11:19 pm 
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Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 19975
Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Gosh! Five reader reviews of the La Scala 'Giselle'. I wonder if that's a record for us? Many thanks to everyone.


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 Post subject: Re: Guillem's Giselle (La Scala Ballet Tours US - Part 2)
PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2001 5:40 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 13071
Location: San Diego, California, USA
From the Los Angeles Times:<P><B>Teatro Alla Scala Handles This 'Giselle's' Subtle Challenges</B><P>By JENNIFER FISHER, Special To The Times <P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>The role of Giselle in Sylvie Guillem's new cinematic staging for the Teatro Alla Scala Ballet is no longer bravura in the traditional way--the mad scene is more internal than melodramatic in the first act, and there are no endless balances in the second. But the challenges aren't gone; they just require more subtlety than usual to achieve the depth of feeling the ballet can sustain.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="http://www.calendarlive.com/top/1,1419,L-LATimes-Search-X!ArticleDetail-38461,00.html?search_area=Blended&channel=Search&search_text=%22Dance+Review%22" TARGET=_blank><B>MORE...</B></A><BR>


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