Early of their romance, the peasant maiden Giselle places her pursuer’s intentions to an age-old take a look at. She plucks a flower’s petals one after the other, saying, “He loves me, he loves me not.”
Pulls between opposites are on the coronary heart of Giselle, epitome of the romantic ballet style, timeless due to the compelling simplicity of its story, with stress at play between need and obligation, impulse and restraint, mercy and vengeance.
Final Friday night, Atlanta Ballet opened its first manufacturing of the traditional since 2006 on the Cobb Power Performing Arts Centre, a model with choreography primarily based on Marius Petipa’s revision of Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot’s authentic 1841 manufacturing. Tara Simoncic carried out because the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra performed Adolphe Adam’s rating.
Since Gennadi Nedvigin grew to become inventive director in 2016, he has reshaped the corporate beneath a extra technically refined if emotionally distant type of classicism. With new firm member Denys Nedak, a number of standout soloists and a extremely unified corps de ballet, Giselle is probably going Atlanta Ballet’s best inventive success since Nedvigin assumed route.
The stage is about with contrasting worlds, vivified by Randall Chiarelli’s lighting and Peter Farmer’s scenic and costume designs. Golden thatch-roofed cottages backed by a swirling purple sky evoke the medieval peasant village the place Albrecht seems, a nobleman disguised as a peasant. He’s a younger aristocrat, maybe a Romantic who aspires to expertise excellent magnificence, if just for a fleeting second, by wooing the harmless Giselle.
He later enters a moonlit forest glade the place Wilis, spirits of jilted maidens who died earlier than their wedding ceremony days, precise vengeance on males by dancing them to demise.
Nedak, a distinguished former principal dancer of the Nationwide Opera Home of Ukraine, joined Atlanta Ballet final fall, and his offstage circumstance intensified the drama Friday night. Nedak’s household got here from Ukraine in December and once more final month to see him dance within the firm’s manufacturing of Firebird. Whereas conflict now rages in Ukraine, Nedak and his household are nonetheless right here.
Nedak cuts a smooth profile, his classical method ingrained as he carried himself Friday with unassuming pure grace. As Albrecht, Nedak deftly moved by means of hovering leaps and turns, his feelings at first contained, then freed as his character’s battle elevated.
As companion to Jessica Assef, who danced the title function final Friday, Nedak confirmed each energy and refinement, with equal deal with the physics of partnering and the illusions the pair created. He lifted a white-clad Assef overhead as if she have been a puff of mist. He supported her, seemingly hovering over him like an angel. When Nedak balanced her lengthened physique horizontally throughout his coronary heart, her type appeared to represent his guilt over her premature demise.
Assef interpreted Giselle’s mad scene with clearly etched accuracy, providing shades of the character’s fragility, heartbreak and despair. Together with her slip of a determine and lithe-limbed method, she was an apt Wili. She dove into adagio lifts with exacting precision. Her stamina impressed, however she usually regarded on the flooring or turned her face to the viewers with out projecting outward, a behavior that distanced her from her viewers. If Nedvigin’s type goals for self-submission towards creating a bigger phantasm, Assef’s Giselle meets the mark.
Mikaela Santos and Erik Kim exuded pure heat within the Peasant Pas de Deux. Partnered by a buoyant Kim, Santos sped by means of glowing footwork, perched graciously on pointe, then circled the stage with tender bravura and spirited pleasure.
As Myrtha, heartless Queen of the Wilis, Ashley Wegmann topped her compelling 2019 tackle the vengeful witch in La Sylphide. Whether or not gliding throughout the ground on pointe or commanding Giselle to bop her lover to demise, Wegmann captured her character’s otherworldly malevolence in a approach that melded superbly with story and choreography.
A uniform corps of Wilis could also be certainly one of Nedvigin’s standout achievements. The ensemble of 18 girls in lengthy white tulle skirts moved as one physique, topic to their queen’s will. Typically an abstraction of bigger themes, they appeared to embody unseen forces, creating uncanny imagery.
The Wilis proceeded slowly throughout the ground in accumulating strains, like veils of moonlit mist rolling throughout a nonetheless lake floor. In excellent unison, they skimmed ahead, reaching by means of arabesques, then stretching again, as if in a state of suspended unrest. At one level, 9 evenly spaced pairs posed in arabesques going through reverse sides of the stage, their gossamer skirts unfurling like blossoming lilies.
Giselle is an effective match for a corporation that now seems to emphasise type over feeling. An ideal classical arabesque, for instance, has an summary and absolute reality to it, and an allegiance to the artwork type’s highest technical normal is rising clearer with every succeeding Atlanta Ballet manufacturing.
On this traditional, dualities form the timeless story advised by means of an ephemeral medium, with pulls between love and indifference, the formal and visceral, the elegant and tragic. At some evanescent level between these realms lies the poetry of Giselle.
Cynthia Bond Perry has coated dance for ArtsATL for the reason that web site was based in 2009. One of the revered dance writers within the Southeast, she additionally contributes to Dance Journal, Dance Worldwide and The Atlanta Journal-Structure. She has an M.F.A. in narrative media writing from the College of Georgia.