Queensland-Ballet-presents-Giselle-The-Wilis-photo-by-David-KellyGiselle, the ballet premiered in Paris in 1841 with ballerina, Carlotta Grini in the titular role. This exemplary work typifies the lovely, swooning Romantic era which was welcomed in post-revolutionary France. It was during this time that the iconic pointe shoe and tulle skirt emerged. Both are immortalised in the beautiful paintings of Edgar Degas. 

The original choreography was created by two French former ballet dancers, Jean Coralli and Jules Perot. The composer was Adolphe Adam. Also French, he was renowned for his compositions for theatre, opera and ballet.

He was himself, also a music critic. His taste for sudden leitmotifs is evident throughout the performance and in the context of this tale, is fitting. This current production has been re-staged for Queensland Ballet by Ai-Gul Gaisina. 

Camerata, Queensland’s Chamber Orchestra, were conducted by Nigel Gaynor. The music was wonderfully orchestrated.

The performance is divided into two, starkly contrasting Acts which focus on the life, death and prevailing love of young Giselle. 

Giselle is a pretty, little peasant girl daintily in love with a peasant boy who has made her acquaintance. Unknown to this maiden who loves to dance, the peasant boy is actually Duke Albrecht. Not only is he an undercover aristocrat, but he is also already betrothed to Bathilde, who has befriended the enchanting Giselle. The courtship of Giselle by Albrecht is malevolently viewed by Hilarion the game keeper who also loves Giselle. 

Act I is a village scene: sunshine, flowers, young, courting couples and much merriment. The festive joy is interspersed with enraged interruptions by the wildly jealous, Hilarian (Rian Thompson). His naturally wavy, long hair was perfect for the role. 

Young hearts are beating heavily with love and the exertion of constant dance. Giselle, however, has a weak heart. Initially, she is psychologically overwhelmed upon learning that her new love already has a well-bred, bride to be. Georgia Swan was notably regal in this role.

Giselle loses her mind before ultimately, losing her life. Principal, Lucy Green as Giselle was divine. She gave an outstandingly convincing performance in the ‘mad dance’ scene, prior to her character’s sudden cardiac death. 

Contrasting with the sunny setting in Act 1, Act II is characterised by death which is morbidly but beautifully portrayed. The setting is a misty forest where Giselle is now buried.

Other, tragically dead, beautiful maidens also emerge from their graves with the vengeful power to dance to death wayfaring men. This is punishment for earthly betrayals.

Now remorseful, Albrecht visits the grave mound of the newly buried, Giselle. He encounters the wrath of Myrtle (Sophie Zoricic) who is determined to bring about his death by dance. 

Albrecht was brilliantly danced by Senior Soloist, Kohei Iwamoto. That sudden and seemingly endless, flurry of entrechats was a wonderful display of ballet athleticism and strength. Lucy and Kohei are always well paired on stage. Giselle’s forgiving intervention saves the life of Albrecht.

Queensland Ballet company presented an enchanting production of this ethereal ballet. The previously scheduled performance was cancelled due to last year’s severe floods here in Brisbane. A treat worth waiting for.

Playhouse – QPAC, Cultural Precinct, South Bank (Brisbane)
Performance: Friday 21 April 2023
Season continues to 29 April 2023

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Queensland Ballet presents Giselle – photo by David Kelly

Review: Michele-Rose Boylan