Queensland Ballet is to be commended on its enthusiastic willingness to stage modern and traditional versions of the repertoire. In this, new artistic director Li Cunxin appears set to continue the approach of his predecessor Francois Klaus.
In Giselle (first performed in Paris in 1841) the company gives us a thoroughly conventional presentation in which the dancers excel, giving new life to Adolphe Adam’s romantic music and Marius Petipa’s inspired choreography (dating from 1884 in St Petersburg).
In producing and staging the production Al-Gul Gaisina has brought out the best from her dancers, including the encouragement of their acting skills whereby they effectively portray their intentions and emotions by gesture and look.
A variety of principals and soloists share and swap the roles, demonstrating the breadth of Queensland Ballet’s talent. Rachael Walsh is a dazzling Giselle, beautifully conveying in dance and gesture the character’s naivety and joyous nature. Her energy and supreme skills are wonderful in both acts.
As Albrecht, Daniel Gaudiello is quite stunning. As the Wilis try to drive him mad the audience is driven mad with excitement at his crazed leaps and absolutely amazing entrechats six
Like a matinee idol in contrast with Vito Bernasconi as his rival, rough-hewn gamekeeper Hilarion, Gaudiello is a striking figure. Meanwhile Bernasconi splendidly displays Hilarion’s seething jealously and murderous intent.
As Giselle’s mother Berthe, Eleanor Freeman radiates a mum’s concern and affection. Dancers in the “pas de huit” (Lisa Edwards, Alec Roberts, Sarah Thompson, Vanessa Morelli, Nathan Scicluna, Joseph Stewart, Robyn Begg and Yu Hui) bring energy and long-legged elegance to their robust dances.
Katherine Rooke is an authoritative and rather awe-inspiring queen of the Wilis, firmly supported by Vanesa Morelli and Tamara Hanton together with company dancers. As the visiting gentry, Huang Junshuang, Mia Thompson, Robbie Moorcroft and Guy Wheatstone demonstrate aristocratic amusement and disdain as they trifle with the peasants.
All are clothed magnificently by Peter Cazalet, while Ben Hughes provides vastly contrasting lighting effects in the two acts.
The Camerata of St John’s music generally complements the dancing well, although at times sounds a little thin, with several instruments flying solo.
In addition to its June-July Brisbane season, Giselle tours to regional centres Toowoomba, Caloundra, Maryborough, Rockhampton and Mackay.