BWW Review: GISELLE at Grand Théâtre

BWW Review: GISELLE at Grand Théâtre

Last week, the Grand Théâtre opened its doors to one of the last performances of the 2018-19 season. For three days, the main venue of the Grand-Duchy welcomed everyone to Akram Khan's Giselle, one of most acclaimed versions of this epic tale. Every word of praise that you might read from critics will not be enough to do it justice. No show is without its flaws, but this might very well be the best dance performance we have seen since we started covering Luxembourg.

For those unfamiliar with the tale, Giselle tells us the story of a young peasant who falls in love with Albrecht, a man she cannot marry - a sad romantic misfortune that leads to her death. In the afterlife, she meets the spirits of multiple women, all beautiful supernatural creatures with a broken heart, who are committed to killing any man that crosses their way. Giselle's demise makes Albrecht a target of the spirits, but her love for him ultimately prevents his death. From our 21st century point of view, the story might not sound all too original, but it was actually one of the most important and defining works of the Romantic Movement, thus standing as a model to countless dramas developed later in History.

BWW Review: GISELLE at Grand Théâtre

Although the narrative seems quite straightforward, the average modern audience might not always be able to fully grasp the unfolding of an unfamiliar tale told exclusively through dance. We can say without a doubt, however, that this was not an issue in this weekend's performances. Some directors choose to focus predominantly in the aesthetics of their choreography, yet this play managed to be both beautifully crafted and carefully acted. Almost every movement of the main characters clearly expressed as much feeling and depth as any spoken sentence, with the exchange between dancers being as expressive and emotional as a well-written dialogue. Supporting the leading cast, the ensemble was brilliant at creating the right atmosphere, while delighting the audience with perfectly timed steps, which felt almost as if they had been synchronized to the single heartbeat of one collective body.

The musical direction fell to Gavin Sutherland, yet the orchestra was our very own Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg. Their performance was flawless and masterfully intertwined with the feeling of the movements on stage. A special word of praise must also go to those responsible for lighting, given how much it contributed to the beauty and tone of the play. It was not about colour, nor was it about blinding effects. Very often it was simply about where the light chose not to be. Figures moving in the shadow or a sole character dancing in a lonely beam of light, surrounded by utter darkness, was not just beautiful, it was art.

Congratulations to everyone and, once again, our thanks to the Grand Théâtre for a great season.

Image credit: Laurent Liotardo

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From This Author David Sousa Lopes

Born in Lisbon, has performed in several plays organized by the Catholic University of Portugal and by Pirate Productions, the most important English speaking theatre (read more...)

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