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San Francisco Ballet: Giselle


(above) Yuan Yuan Tan  in Helgi Tomasson’s “Giselle.” Photo: Erik Tomasson, San Francisco Ballet

Review by Jo Tomalin

Yuan Yuan Tan and Davit Karapetyan in Helgi Tomasson’s Giselle.
Photo: Erik Tomasson, San Francisco Ballet

Exquisite and Pure Giselle

The San Francisco Ballet 2014 Season opened with Helgi Tomasson’s Giselle, a beautiful production of the romantic full-length ballet, choreographed by Helgi Tomasson after Marius Petipa, Jules Perrot and Jean Coralli, set to Music by Adolphe Adam plus additional orchestrations by others.

Soloists, characters and corps were splendid in this two act ballet telling the story of fragile Giselle (Yuan Yuan Tan) a peasant girl who loves to dance and is being courted by Loys, a young man seemingly a peasant, but who is really Count Albrecht (Davit Karapetyan), in disguise. This soon becomes a trio of anguish as Hilarion (Rubén Martín Cíntas), a woodsman who is already in love with Giselle suspects that Loys is not his real identity and sets off to find out more about him.

Giselle’s mother Berthe (Anita Paciotti) warns her that if she dances too much she may fall to the same fate as the Wilis – young women who died before their wedding day doomed to spend eternity dancing in the other world.

Tan’s delightful fluid movement of her Giselle and her sublime fouettés en tournant followed by her exquisite duo with Karapetyan shows pure romance as they relate to each other so well. In their solos Karapetyan demonstrated his precision and prowess in huge leaps while Tan was angelic and beguiling grace with seamless phrasing.

A muscular Peasant Pas de Cinq in Act I was also sweet and well-structured as performed by Julia Rowe, Isabelle DeVivo, Emma Rubinowitz, Max Cauthorn, and Esteban Hernandez.

Tan’s transition as she is about to join the Wilis is natural and moving – her heart literally broken. She is so sad that even Hilarion can not help her as she weakens in Albrecht’s arms.

In the Act II pas de deux, Karapetyan and Tan perform another romantic, lyrical and mysterious partnering that is restrained and visceral.

Jennifer Stahl’s Queen of the Wilis is commanding and compelling as she leads the two Solo Wilis (Koto Ishahara and Julia Rowe) and her magnificent corps of Wilis. Cíntas’ Woodsman shows his dramatic and athletic skills in his exciting and emotional dances.

The scenery is bold and dramatic especially in the other world of Act II, costumes in Act I are rich in color and texture while in Act II costumes are gossamer light and ethereal, with Scenic, Costume and Lighting Design by Mikael Melbye.

Although the casts change from night to night, the perfect partnering of Tan and Karapetyan was very compelling and worth seeking out. The SFBallet is off to a great start this season – this was Program 1 and there are 7 more programs running until May 11th 2014. Highly recommended.

For more information:
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