Giselle, Pacific Northwest Ballet

Written by:
Alyssa Schoeneman
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Music by Adolphe Adam
Choreography by Jean Coralli, Jules Perrot, Marius Petipa
Staged by Peter Boal
Pacific Northwest Ballet
Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, Seattle
June 3-12, 2011

Seattle’s underground and Pike’s Place Market are allegedly full of ghosts; Thursday, thanks to the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “Giselle,” so was the Seattle Center’s McCaw Hall.

PNB Artistic Director Peter Boal’s reconstruction of the 170-year-old ballet featured Lesley Rausch as Giselle, a young peasant who fell in love with a duke disguised as a villager. To Giselle’s extreme grief and ultimate demise, game-keeper Hilarion exposed the villager Loys, danced by Batkhurel Bold, as the betrothed Duke Albrecht in Act I’s final scene.

Act II highlighted the Wilis, a group of deceased women who were jilted at the altar, and who now kill unsuspecting male passersby by night. The Wilis danced Hilarion, played by an un-emotive Jeffrey Stanton, to exhaustion, but spared the life of the more likable Albrecht.

As Albrecht, Bold delivered a strong performance. From his clarity and consistency in jumps and turns, to his playfulness and his desire for love interest Giselle, Bold simultaneously embodied both strength and softness. And Rausch was right behind him.

Rausch’s strength was in her movement’s nuance—in the breath in her body when she descended off pointe and in the scrape of her second foot on the floor as she leapt into the air—and her emotions, unlike Stanton’s, enlivened her face.

In Act I’s final scene, a delirious Rausch feigned the once-joyful steps that she and Albrecht had danced just minutes before. Rausch’s overwhelming grief rippled through the surrounding corps de ballet, whose members advanced to catch her as she aimlessly stumbled, literally crying herself to death.

Rausch continued to emote convincingly upon joining the ranks of the Wilis in Act II. Luckily for Albrecht, Giselle’s humanity was intact; though ghostly, Giselle was not soulless, convincing Wili Queen Myrtha, as danced by Lindsi Dec, to spare his life. The length of Dec’s legs and the crispness of her movement made Dec a clear standout among her fellow Wilis. From a complicated series of jumps to moments of mimed dialogue with Rausch, this Queen was in clear command of the stage.

A performance like this adds “Giselle” to Seattle’s list of urban legends.

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