Johannesburg-born dancer and choreographer Dada Masilo — known for fearlessly deconstructing classical ballets — brings her take on Giselle to Milton Keynes Theatre this month.
The production is visiting the new city as part of the Dance Consortium tour, which presents must-see international contemporary dance across the UK.
Masilo, who dances the role of Giselle, has radically reimagined the definitive Romantic era ballet by uprooting it from its European origins and giving it a trailblazing feminist twist.
Set in a South African village, Masilo’s Giselle tells the tale of a peasant girl who is overwhelmed by betrayal and shame when her duplicitous lover deserts her. Rejected by her family and alienated from the village community, Giselle’s heartbreak sends her mad and ultimately kills her.
Still, it’s not long before she is resurrected as a spooky supernatural being, bent on revenge…
Sometimes, you just need to put on your tutu and twirl.
But what do you really know about the Ballet Tutu?
Incredible dancing. Intense storytelling. Totally immersive. English National Ballet’s new Giselle by Akram Khan is an epic dance experience. Everything about Akram Khan’s Giselle is so inspired that, after joining an elated audience in a lengthy standing ovation, I left Sadler’s Wells utterly convinced that no words will ever do this masterpiece justice.
The company, under the direction of Tamara Rojo, is intent on evolving the art of ballet. While still honouring the classical tradition (the dancers begin their Nutcracker season at Milton Keynes Theatre next week), English National Ballet is adding amazing diversity to its repertoire with fresh new works. Following the resounding success of Dust, his piece for the Lest We Forget programme, anticipation has been sky-high for Akram Khan’s Giselle.
In short, Akram Khan’s Giselle is a triumphant re-imagining of the 1841 Romantic Era ballet. All the essential themes — love, betrayal, revenge, the opposing realms of life and death — remain but Khan’s vision teases out the dark undertones that have always been there. Dragged to the surface, these elements are expressed with visceral urgency, arresting intent and harrowing sensibility.
Sofia National Ballet dances Giselle
Dancers from Bulgaria’s leading ballet company, Sofia National Ballet, are making their Milton Keynes debut this week.
Sofia National Ballet was formed in 1928 and is immersed in the Russian classical tradition. Established as an acclaimed cultural institution in Bulgaria, it prides itself on its interpretations of the world’s favourite ballets.
Milton Keynes Theatre is the last stop on the Company’s first ever visit to the UK, presenting three timeless narrative works: Giselle, Don Quixote and Swan Lake. Last night saw the cast of dancers — accompanied by the Orchestra of Sofia National Ballet — perform Giselle. The poignant story was penned by Théophile Gautier and Vernoy de St Georges in the 19th century, during the Romantic Era. This period saw the rise of the ballerina (previously, men had dominated the art) and is characterised by ballets which tell stories of men falling in love with waiflike spirits.