BWW Review: GISELLE Opens LA Ballet's 10th Season Celebrating the Great Romantics
Premiered by Los Angeles Ballet in 2011, GISELLE is a haunting and ethereal masterwork; the perfect embodiment of the Romantic ideal to kick off its tenth season. Continuing its mission to offer world-class professional ballet to greater Los Angeles, the season will include four full-length story ballets including new productions of Don Quixote and Romeo and Juliet and the return of the company's critically-acclaimed productions of Giselle and The Nutcracker.
With the exception of Romeo and Juliet, all are choreographed by Artistic Directors Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary, who have chosen Frederick Ashton's Romeo and Juliet which will be a Los Angeles premiere in May 2016. "We are thrilled to be the first American company to perform this tremendous piece, a work of classical genius," says Christensen. Shakespeare's timeless tragedy of star-crossed lovers is unforgettably expressed in dance, drama, and Prokofiev's timeless score.
Their spectacular GISELLE opened at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center on Saturday, October 3 and will continue for just two more performances at the Alex Theatre in Glendale on Sat., October 24 at 7:30pm and at UCLA's Royce Hall in Westwood on Sun., November 1 at 2:00pm. I encourage you to see this amazing production which features fabulous dancers from all over the world, incredibly evocative sets and lighting, and beautiful costumes, all celebrating the glory of romance.
For those not familiar with the story, it centers on Giselle (the enchanting Alyssa Bross), a beautiful young woman promised to one man (Alexander Castillo as the ruggedly handsome woodsman Hilarion) but has fallen hopelessly in love with another man who happens to be Prince Albrecht (the glorious Kenta Shimizu). But the course of true love never runs smooth, so of course Albrecht is engaged to marry another woman he does not love. When all is revealed, the heartbroken young woman loses her mind, collapses and dies, then returns with the help of forest spirits (the Wilis) to forgive the man so she can rest in peace. But in this romantic fantasy, it's the spectacular dancing you will remember most of all, especially the exquisite duets by Bross and Shimizu who both seem to have the ability to fly.
As Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis, fetchingly tall Kate Highstrete so nimbly stays on her toes for so long, she actually makes the incredibly difficult feat look astonishingly easy. Incredibly intricate and perfectly matched ensemble choreography will enchant you throughout the production from the peasants to the ethereal Wilis sprites. Castillo certainly will grab your attention as he suffers through bouts of jealousy expressed through emotional pantomime and spectacular athletic dancing. But ultimately, it is the love duets by Bross and Shimizu that set the mood for the entire production and they are phenomenal in their perfect paring and execution of every dance, especially during gravity-defying lifts as the celestial Giselle seems to float on air in the arms of the forlorn Albrecht.
Los Angeles Ballet 2015-2016 season
Redondo Beach PAC on Sat., October 3 at 7:30pm
Alex Theatre in Glendale on Sat., October 24 at 7:30pm
Royce Hall at UCLA on Sun., November 1at 2:00pm
Alex Theatre on Sat., Dec. 5 at 7:30pm & Sun., Dec. 6 at 2:00pm
Valley PAC at CSUN on Tues., Dec. 8 at 7:30pm & Wed., Dec. 9 at 7:30pm
Dolby Theatre Hollywood: Sat., Dec. 12 and Sun., Dec. 13 at 1pm & 5pm
McCallum Theatre - Palm Desert on Tues., December 15 at 7:00pm
Royce Hall: Fri., Dec. 18 at 7:30pm, Sat., Dec. 19 and Sun., Dec. 20 at 1pm & 5pm
Redondo Beach PAC on Sat., Dec. 26 and Sun., Dec. 27 at 1pm & 5pm
Redondo Beach PAC on Sat., February 20 at 7:30pm
Alex Theatre on Sat., February 27 at 7:30pm
Royce Hall on Sat., March 26 at 7:30pm
Romeo and Juliet
Alex Theatre on Sat., May 7 at 7:30pm
Valley PAC on Sun., May 15 at 2:00pm
Redondo Beach PAC on Sat., May 28 7:30pm
Royce Hall on Sat., June 4 at 2:00pm and 7:30pm
Tickets: $31.00 - $99.00, students, children, seniors, and military 20% discount.
Box Office Phone: 310-998-7782; Website http://www.losangelesballet.org
Photos by Reed Hutchinson