Till death do us apart

2012-04-21 13:59

This two-act ballet demands technical perfection, as well as infinite grace and an endless supply of stamina, from the principal dancer who takes on the eponymous role. The same applies to the principal male dancer and the soloists, all of whom add to the entertainment’s wow factor. Even the corps de ballet are kept on their toes – literally – with the array of intricate choreography.

South Africa Ballet Theatre’s Burnise Silvius was Giselle on opening night, and her ability to transform from a small-town girl full of the joys of new love into a heartbroken shade is breathtaking. Similarly, Jonathan Rodrigues, who made his debut as Count Albrecht on opening night, made the ladies swoon with his prowess.

Claudia Monja is Myrthe, the Queen of the Wilis, who demands the lives of young men who have been untrue in love – but so beautifully she’s impossible to resist.

The cast is an amalgamation of the talents of the SA Ballet Theatre, Mzansi Productions and visiting Cuban dancers, a collaboration that we will see more of as the SA Ballet Theatre and Mzansi are officially set to merge.

This version of Giselle, written by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges, is choreographed by the father of classical ballet, Marius Petipa, whose final product was danced by the great Anna Pavlova in 1903 for the Imperial Russian Ballet. And she’s just the first globally recognised name in a long line of prima ballerinas to dance the role.

Giselle is in two acts. The first is set in a Rhineland village where a sickly young woman falls for a mysterious young man. When she discovers he is engaged and too high born for her, she dies of a broken heart.

The second act is set at Giselle’s graveside and features some of the most awesome ensemble work you will see. As her lover mourns her, he finds her ghost in attendance, as well as a host of other apparitions bent on dancing him into an early grave.

» Giselle is on at The Nelson Mandela Theatre at The Joburg Theatre complex until April 29. 0 0861 670 670.

Giselle will be performed by the Cape Town City Ballet at this year’s National Arts Festival in Grahamstown 

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