HCD to Present GISELLE, 7/25

The Hartt School Community Division (HCD) Dance Department presents Giselle, a ballet by Adolphe Adam, on Saturday, July 25, 2015 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Millard Auditorium at the University of Hartford, 200 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford. Guest choreographer and artistic director of the production is Xiomara Reyes, a world-renowned dancer who retired from the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) in May after 12 years as one of its principal dancers. Tickets are $10, and can be purchased online at hartford.edu/hcd or by calling 860.768.4228.

A timeless story of love and betrayal, Giselle is one of the most well-known ballets in history. A romantic ballet in two acts, Giselle features a trusting peasant girl, a love-struck nobleman, and a cast of ghostly spirits who dance their victims to death. First performed in 1841, Giselle continues to hold a place of honor in ballet's rich history. A fresh incarnation of an iconic dance classic, Giselle at HCD promises a captivating and affordable summer experience.

This full-length ballet culminates a concentrated month of preprofessional study during HCD Dance Department's From Studio to Stage (FSTS), a national summer intensive ballet program designed to provide rigorous technical coaching and intensive rehearsals. The dancers showcased represent an impressive assortment of talented preprofessionals from across the country. Join HCD for two outstanding performances of this classic love story staged by guest director Ms. Reyes, whose final performance with the ABT was in its own production of Giselle.

About Giselle

This two-act ballet is set in a small village in a time long ago and a place far away. Hilarion, the village huntsman, returns from his early morning chores and pauses before the home of Giselle, the village girl with whom he is in love. He sees a second village peasant named Loys alone with Giselle. As Hilarion watches, Loys swears eternal love to Giselle. Hilarion interrupts, protesting that he, and not Loys, truly loves Giselle. A quarrel ensues, confirming to Hilarion his suspicion that Loys is a royal imposter. Giselle's mother, Berthe warns Giselle of her weak heart as Giselle's life may be endangered if she overexerts herself. The royals return from a hunt and refreshments are served to all. Hilarion exposes Loys as a royal imposter, and Bathilde - the prince's daughter - reveals that Loys is indeed both nobility and her fiancé. The shock of Loys' duplicity is too great for Giselle's frail constitution. Her mind unhinged, she dies of a broken heart - her love unrequited.

Act two takes place in the clearing of a forest near Giselle's grave. The Wilis spirits are summoned by their queen, Myrta, to attend the ceremony to initiate Giselle into their sisterhood. Their love unrequited, they can find no rest in the grave and their spirits are forever destined to roam the earth from midnight to dawn, vengefully trapping any male who enters their domain and forcing him to dance to his death. Hilarion, in search of Giselle, meets his death at their hands. Loys, now revealed as Count Albrecht, arrives to leave flowers on Giselle's grave. He too is ensnared by the Wilis and commanded to dance until his death. Resolved to protect him, Giselle is determined to dance with him until the hour at which the Wilis lose their power.

About the Guest Choreographer and Artistic Director

A former American Ballet Theatre (ABT) Principal Dancer, Xiomara Reyes is the artistic guide for the Hartt School Community Division Dance Department's fourth season of From Studio to Stage. Born in Cuba, Reyes joined ABT as a Soloist in January 2001 and quickly rose to Principal Dancer, a position she held from 2003 until her recent retirement in 2015. Her early career began at Cuba's National Ballet School. Upon graduation, she danced as a soloist with La Joven Guardia, the second company of Cuba's National Ballet. Two years later she was invited to appear with the Royal Ballet of Flanders in Belgium. She danced with this company for seven years, rising to the rank of First Soloist. Her repertoire with these companies included Nikiya in La Bayadère, Cinderella in Cinderella, Kitri in Don Quixote, Swanilda in Coppélia, Giselle in Giselle, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet and Odette-Odile in Swan Lake. She also performed principal roles in ballets by George Balanchine, Paolo Bortoluzzi, and Christopher D'Amboise, among others, and has performed across Europe, Asia, and the United States.

Reyes has been a guest artist in France with Jeune Ballet de France, in Italy with Balleto Del Sud, in Greece with Nafsika Dance Theater, in Korea at the International Dance Festival, and in Russia with Bashkirian State Ballet. She was awarded gold medal for Best Soloist at the International Ballet Competition of Chiclayo, Peru (1996), Best Couple Prize at the XIV International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria (1990), silver medal at the Cinquienne Concours International de Danse de Paris (1992), and second prize at the International Ballet Competition in Luxembourg (1995).

About From Studio to Stage

From Studio to Stage (FSTS) is a summer pre-professional ballet program offering extensive performance experience to empower young dancers to enter today's dance industry. This multi-faceted, rigorous, 4-week curriculum takes dancers beyond technique and leads them to improved performance both on and off-stage. For more information about FSTS, visit our website at hartford.edu/hcd.

About The Hartt School Community Division

The Hartt School Community Division (HCD) is a comprehensive community arts school that annually provides performing arts instruction to more than 2,800 students. As the community arm of The University of Hartford's Hartt School, the mission of HCD is to enrich lives through innovative and unparalleled performing arts education. HCD's diverse programing provides a comprehensive music and dance experience for students of all ages and abilities. For more information on The Hartt School Community Division, visit hartford.edu/hcd.

About The Hartt School

The Hartt School is the performing arts conservatory of the University of Hartford that offers innovative degree programs in music, dance, and theatre. Founded in 1920, Hartt has been an integral part of the University of Hartford since its charter merged the then Hartt School of Music, the Hartford Art School, and Hillyer College to create the University in 1957. 2010 marked Hartt's 90th year of providing world-class performing arts education to students in Greater Hartford and around the world. With more than 400 concerts, recitals, plays, master classes, dance performances, and musical theatre productions each year, performance is central to Hartt's curriculum. For more information about The Hartt School, visit hartford.edu/hartt.

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