by Emily Kate Long
Filmed in 2011, this Giselle is Yuri Grigorovich’s version after choreography by Coralli, Perrot, and Petipa. Simon Virsaladze’s set and costume designs are gloriously light and airy, and the staging in both acts is full but polished.
Svetlana Lunkina’s Giselle is playful and modest in Act 1. Her sweetness is well complemented by Dimitry Gudanov’s casual confidence as Albrecht. Lunkina is closeup-ready; every expression is genuine and effective down to the ends of her eyelashes. It’s easy to fall in love with her, and easy to mourn her madness and heartbreak. This Giselle’s believably tragic and deeply personal mad scene is, unfortunately, somewhat cheapened by the villagers’ over-the-top reactions of distress at the close of the act.
The Giselle that appears in Act 2 is, appropriately, the emotionally spent young woman whose world collapsed around her in Act 1. Her innocence has been darkened, her joy dampened. Lunkina is completely at the mercy of a cruel and somber Myrtha (Maria Allash) until her true love and forgiveness of Albrecht break Myrtha’s spell and to save him at sunrise. The dancing of the wilis is pure magic—the suspension of one woman from a rocking mechanism to drop lilies on Albrecht is pure distraction.
The huge scale of a Bolshoi production is something that simply doesn’t exist in the West. For most of us, video is the only way we’ll ever see something so enormous. Watching that magnificence, as well as seeing Lunkina close up, is absolutely a treat, but here video simultaneously detracts where it enhances. The humanity of her Giselle, so wonderfully highlighted in close-ups, seems out of context amid the exaggerated grandness traditional on the Bolshoi stage.
The Bolshoi Ballet and Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra in Giselle. 109 minutes. Pathe Live, Bel Aire Media, and the State Academic Bolshoi Theatre, 2012.
Assistant Editor Emily Kate Long began her dance education in South Bend, Indiana, with Kimmary Williams and Jacob Rice, and graduated in 2007 from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School’s Schenley Program. She has spent summers studying at Ballet Chicago, Pittsburgh Youth Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School, Miami City Ballet, and Saratoga Summer Dance Intensive/Vail Valley Dance Intensive, where she served as Program Assistant. Ms Long attended Milwaukee Ballet School’s Summer Intensive on scholarship before being invited to join Milwaukee Ballet II in 2007.
Ms Long has been a member of Ballet Quad Cities since 2009. She has danced featured roles in Deanna Carter’s Ash to Glass and Dracula, participated in the company’s 2010 tour to New York City, and most recently performed principal roles in Courtney Lyon’s Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, and Cinderella. She is also on the faculty of Ballet Quad Cities School of Dance, where she teaches ballet, pointe, and repertoire classes.