Theatre

Giselle @ Coliseum, London



Principal Performers: Irina Perren, Anna Novosyolova, Vladimir Tsal, Sabina Yapparova, Maksim Eremeev, Denis Matvienko, Roman Petukhov, Olga Semyonova, Andrei Bregvadze, Irina Kosheleva, Yulia Kamilova, Maria Glukhova
Giselle is the second of five works that the Mikhailovsky Ballet is bringing to the Coliseum this summer.

Nikita Dolgushins production, which premiered in 2007, does not attempt to reproduce the original of 1842, but it is geared towards capturing its romantic structure, in which reality and fantasy are contrasted to great effect.

In Act One, however, some aspects are more successful than others, although there is no doubting the central performance of Irina Perren. She imbues in Giselle a youthful innocence that manifests itself in some beautifully fluid movements, while the corps de ballet and various soloists instil a great tenderness and sensitivity into their joyous routines
By the same token, however, the set-up does not always allow the men to shine. When Denis Matvienkos Count dances with Giselle, surrounded by the female ensemble, he fails to inject sufficient masculinity into the character with the consequence that the pairs rapport lacks charge.

Similarly, Vladimir Tsal captures the Gamekeepers sense of hurt and frustration, but there is too little of the noble peasant about him to arouse our sympathies. Indeed, it is because some characters feel underdeveloped that their responses to Giselles death then feel melodramatic and unconvincing.

Act Two, however, is an entirely different kettle of fish. At the centre of it are the Wilis, superbly headed by Irina Kosheleva as the Queen, who not only deliver some highly deft moves, but provide us with interesting insights into their mentality. There is an uncomfortable self-righteousness in the way that they dispose of the innocent Gamekeeper, simply because he is a man. As they dance him to his death, Tsal delivering a stunning set of crazed caprioles, and return to form an orderly line within moments of dispatching him into the lake, they feel both ruthlessly efficient and, paradoxically, soulless.

But the second act is really made by the performances of Perren and Matvienko. Perrens clean lines and graceful movements of Act One are suddenly instilled with a greater degree of energy and zest, as if the Wilis influence has seen her come through death a more resilient character, while Matvienko more than matches her for style, agility and technique. This Giselle is very much a production of two halves, and the second half is definitely worth making the trip for.

The Mikhailovsky Ballets season at the London Coliseum continues until 25 July and features Swan Lake, Giselle, Cipollino, a Triple Bill and Laurencia. Further details can be found at www.mikhailovsky.ru/london2010



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