A 'Giselle' to remember
Janos Gereben, The Examiner
Feb 18, 2008
SAN FRANCISCO (Map, News) - Balletomanes in the ornate lobby of the San Francisco War Memorial seemed busy Saturday evening, discussing what will happen in a few days.
Instead of focusing on the business at hand, the opening of the "Giselle" revival with the "A cast," talk was all about the coming role debut Tuesday of Bolshoi's/Royal Ballet's Maria Kochetkova, to be partnered by Joan Boada.
A promising show, indeed, but in the meanwhile, Yuan Yuan Tan and Tiit Helimets danced Giselle and Albrecht for the ages, surrounded by fine soloists and a spectacular corps de ballet.
All in all, it was a wonderful performance of a classic, which is beginning to look like once again what Jean Coralli, Jules Perrot and - above all - Marius Petipa had wrought.
It wasn't always so.
When San Francisco Ballet Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson first put his stamp on "Giselle" in 1999 - responsible for both production and the choreography "after Petipa," etc. - I found "a static, slow, impersonal, Icelandic stirring of white tutus, the lovers never connecting, time running out on the impassive, uncaring willies, Giselle leaving, Alberich surviving... If you can't get romantic with `Giselle,' what does it take to do the trick?"
Apparently, it takes time. In eight years, much has happened, all for the good.
From the first act story ballet (sliced and diced just right) through the second act's white ballet, all went swimmingly, and this time the finale had not only Tan's and Helimets’ athletic strength and superb artistry, but also a romantic, heartbreaking connection with each other and the audience.
This grown-up, re-revised "Giselle" speaks to the heart.