Royal New Zealand Ballet brings ‘Giselle’ to Chinese audience

By Wang Xuewen Source:Global Times Published: 2013-4-16 19:23:01

In celebration of its 60th birthday, the Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB) brings its new version of Giselle to China.

The French romantic ballet, Giselle is one of the oldest and the most staged ballets since its premiere in 1841. It tells a tragic story about a simple country girl, named Giselle, who dies of a broken heart when she discovers her lover Albrecht is engaged to someone else. Returning to haunt him, she joins the ghostly ranks of the Wilis (abandoned brides who rise from the grave to prey on the men who wronged them). But finally, the kind Giselle protects Albrecht with love and forgiveness.

The director and choreographer of the new version is Ethan Stiefel, who was principle dancer of American Ballet Theatre (ABT) and now Artistic Director of RNZB.

Co-produced with Johan Kobborg, principle dancer of Royal Ballet, Stiefel re-choreographed Giselle with some innovative elements. A prologue and a finale were also added.

Stiefel told the Global Times a new role, an older Albrecht, was added to the new version in which "the younger Albrecht is a flashback." With this approach, Stiefel tries to illustrate how much Albrecht loved Giselle as he recalls his past.

After its success in Suzhou on April 9 and Shanghai on April 12 and 13, Giselle continues the performance in Beijing (April 17-18), Tianjin (April 20-21) and Guangzhou (April 26-27).

Gillian Murphy, star dancer of ABT as well as the partner of Stiefel, will be playing the role of Giselle for the first time in her career and only for the performance on April 17 at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing.

Another highlight of the ballet is the performance by Chinese dancer, Qi Huan, who plays the role of Albrecht and impresses audiences with his powerful jumps. In the climactic scene of Giselle, he jumps over 30 times. Stiefel commented, "Qi is a magnificent dancer. Every time I see him dance, he is better than before. I know performing in China means a lot to him."

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