Queensland Ballet's latest production 'Giselle' is an exquisite, traditional ballet requiring exceptional technical and dramatic skills, it is a heart-rending tale of betrayal and forgiveness that will touch your heart.
The ballet tells the tragic story of Giselle, an innocent village girl whose broken heart causes her to succumb to an untimely death. Deep in the moonlit forest, she emerges in the twilight spirit world of the vengeful Wilis spirits. When her repentant lover Albrecht visits her grave, only Giselle’s undying love and devotion can sustain him through the Wilis’ irresistible, deathly dance. In this version of the ballet, helmed by Artistic Director Li Cunxin, there are three dancers sharing the role of Giselle including Queensland Ballet Principal dancer Rachael Walsh.
“I'll be dancing it with two Albrecht's this time in a first for QLD Ballet and it is wonderful to have the chance to dance this ballet with two such talented men.” Rachael has been with the Queensland Ballet since 1998 and a Principal since 2002 and she is enamoured with this particular story. “Giselle is one of my favourite classical ballets. Mainly because I believe it is the most pure, there is nothing extra added. The story is told so simply and so beautifully in the choreography and there is quite a difference between the first and second acts.”
For those who are unsure of the storyline, she explains the plot. “The first act is set in a village scene. It's very alive and very youthful and quite joyous and when Giselle and the Prince meet, their relationship flourishes in the first act. The second act, also known as the white act, is Giselle's afterlife as she dies at the end of the first act (which is a shock to many people that the lead character dies). But the second act where she becomes a Wilis in the afterlife is really quite astounding, probably one of the most beautiful acts in dance.”
With a cast of talented creatives at the helm of this production, the troupe of dancers is in very capable hands but Rachael points out that there are some elements that cannot be taught but are expressed.
“With the actual dance steps, there is always creative licence that an artist can take. In this production however, the choreographer Ai-Gul Gaisana, has taken quite a traditional take on the ballet. With Giselle, there is always room for artistic interpretations in her reactions and her emotional journey she goes on. It's the same as with any actor or performer who needs to express what someone is thinking and feeling. It's about the nuances and subtleties in the individual dancer's performance.”
Pausing to think, Rachael adds, “it's such a challenging role for both the female and male leads. Technically it is very difficult and physically it is very exhausting, but also because it's such a journey they both go on through love, betrayal and forgiveness. So it's quite emotionally draining at the end of the night as well. But you are left with a beautiful feeling of hope that life with go on and that love goes on. And though it sounds like a sad story, it is full of love and peace and it has almost a magical feel to the ending.”
'Giselle' will be at the Playhouse, QPAC until July 6.