BalletMet to present reimagined rendition of ‘Giselle’

The Lantern
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Lisset Santander performs as a Wilis in Edwaard Liang’s rendition of the popular French ballet “Giselle.” Credit: Courtesy of Sarah Irvin Clark

“Giselle,” a popular French ballet reimagined by Edwaard Liang and presented by BalletMet, is returning to the Speaker Jo Ann Davidson Theatre at the Riffe Center Theatre Complex.

The ballet, which will take place Feb. 11-19, follows Giselle, a peasant girl who dies of a broken heart after discovering her true love, Albrecht, is engaged to someone else. Giselle is summoned to an afterlife with the Wilis, a group of women who suffered similar fates and dance men to death as revenge.

Despite keeping most of the original story the same, Interim Marketing Director of BalletMet Tracy Tucker said Artistic Director of BalletMet Liang reimagined some major plot points of the ballet in the 2017-18 season. Tucker said the story itself is special because of its dramatic pacing and unique plot.

“If you don’t know the story and you came in without having any idea of seeing the show, you’re going to be fully entertained,” she said. “It really goes from one end of the game to another.”

The first of many reimagined details occurs when the first act adds three couples to a scene that was originally only danced by one couple.

Carly Wheaton, a company dancer who will perform the roles of Giselle, Bathilde and a Wilis, said additional, smaller details related to sets and costumes make this version wholly unique.

“It’s Edwaard Liang’s version, so I’m excited for those who haven’t seen it yet to see the sets and this interpretation of it,” Wheaton said.

A larger reimagining takes place at the end of the first act — the death of Giselle, which is the turning point of the story, Wheaton said. In many performances, Giselle seems to die of a broken heart, but it is often left open to interpretation. She said Edwaard Liang’s reimagining depicts Giselle killing herself after having her heart broken.

Giselle’s death scene at the end of the first act is meant to haunt the audience in preparation for the second act, which takes place in the afterlife as Giselle becomes a Wilis herself, Wheaton said.

“Hopefully the audience feels somewhat haunted and reflective going into intermission,” Wheaton said.

Wheaton said in the second act, Albrecht is drawn to Giselle’s grave where he is spelled by the Wilis and spared only by Giselle — his one true love. The ballet ends with Giselle and Albrecht condemned to live their separate eternities without each other.

Despite the tragedy of Giselle’s death, the ballet is still a love story. However, Tucker said even those averse to romantic tales will be able to find something to enjoy about “Giselle” because of the multifaceted nature of the story.

“It’s definitely a romantic ballet. It’s definitely a love story,” Tucker said. “It’s got everything — I mean, it’s got love and betrayal and deceit and ghosts.”

Tickets to “Giselle” can be purchased on the BalletMet website .

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