BWW REVIEW: Bolshoi Summer Series Presents a Repeat of Giselle

BWW REVIEW: Bolshoi Summer Series Presents a Repeat of Giselle

On July 9, 2018 Fathom Events presented Giselle, the 1st of the Summer Series of encore performances of ballet films by the Bolshoi Ballet of Moscow, which played simultaneously around the globe, in a single showing.

The highly reputed stars of this performance were Svetlana Zakharova as Giselle and Sergei Polunin as Albrecht, Giselle's love interest who, it turns out, is engaged to another. This is the cause of Giselle's "mad scene" and subsequent death, due to her frail condition. Zakharova is long and lithe, demonstrating her high extension at every opportunity. The story of Polunin's rise through the Russian ballet school to become a young principal dancer of the Royal Ballet in London, England, leaving this company and his ballet career in a short time has been well documented. He has returned to the stage and I was interested to witness his talent.

The role of Hans (known to balletomanes in this part of the world as Hilarion) was played by a dancer with a marvelous acting ability. I am sorry not to have the name of this artist, but I want to commend his ability to relate to the other dancers, conveying the story to the audience in both the 1st and 2nd acts. The beautiful Ekaterina Shipulina danced the role of Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis, in the 2nd act. She is strong, as proved by her excellent execution of this role comprised of a potentially exhausting series of jumps. Shipulina is also a believable actress, particularly in Myrtha's exchange with Hans as she demands he dance until he dies.

The Bolshoi's corps de ballet is unified, as the corps should be, although we do not always see this phenomenon today. They dance as one. That said, they were together as they all did chugs in arabesque, each one of them breaking the line with a winged foot (bending the ankle to direct the toes upward). Principals, soloists, and corps members in ballet companies around the world today tend to exaggerate winged feet. I understand this to be a way that has been adopted to avoid sickling (allowing the foot to drop, toes down), but this reaction is not a suitable alternative. This reminds me of a number of exaggerations and misinterpretations prevalent in the ballet world today, which seem to replace artistry with circus technique.

There will be two more Bolshoi Ballet films shown this summer: Romeo and Juliet on Monday, July 16th and Swan Lake on Monday, July 23rd.

Photo credit: Damir Yusupov

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