Giselle: the characters

Giselle: the characters

Giselle, which premiered in 1841, has stood the test of time – not only because of the otherworldly beauty of its “white” act, but because of the universal passion and drama of its storyline. First love, betrayal, jealousy, hurt and forgiveness … we’ve all been through them, and that’s what makes Giselle resonate in the chamber of our hearts.

Upping the emotional ante is the room for interpretation within the main characters. Each dancer playing Giselle, Albrecht and Hilarion will bring their particular slant to the role, which can change the flavour of the whole ballet. It’s why Balanchine compared Giselle to Hamlet, and why it’s a ballet worth seeing again and again. Let’s meet the four main characters:

GISELLE

Rachel Rawlins and Matthew Lawrence. Photography Danielle Lyonne

Rachel Rawlins and Matthew Lawrence. Photography Danielle Lyonne

She’s the village belle, newly crowned the Harvest Queen, and beloved by all for her sweet nature and ebullience. She loves to dance, but her heart is weak – it will ultimately kill her when she’s reeling from the shock of discovering her lover is not what he seems. Fragile as she is in life, in death she reveals a new strength as she protects her lover from the wilis, and achieves a tender and luminous forgiveness. (more…)

25 November 2014

Against-the-odds heroines

Nikiya the temple dancer, the heroine of La Bayadère, has to battle the odds to win her true love Solor. Her rival Gamzatti is a rich, spoilt princess who’s determined by fair means or foul to steal the handsome warrior for her own, and who resorts to killing Nikiya with a cunningly planted snake to get her out of the way.

But Nikiya prevails (albeit after death). Solor pledges his love afresh to the vision of her ghost, her shade interrupts the wedding, and in a blissful afterlife, she’s reunited with her man.

Girl battles rich, glamorous rival and wins her way to love … we couldn’t help but think of the many times this plot has delighted us. From the page and the screen, here are our favourite win-the-day heroines. Who’s yours?

SABRINA

Image courtesy of Classiq.me

Image from Classiq.me

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21 November 2014

5 reasons you need to see Giselle
Lucinda Dunn, Robert Curran and artists of The Australian Ballet in Maina Gielgud's Giselle. Photography Danielle Lyonne

5 reasons you need to see Giselle

Maina Gielgud says it: “There’s everything in Giselle. Love, heartbreak, madness … and a lot of pure dance.” Maina’s sublime production of this great Romantic ballet is coming to our stages in 2015. Here are five reasons not to miss it.

THE LOVE STORY
The innocent Giselle and the careless Albrecht move from infatuation and betrayal to a tender, redemptive love guaranteed to melt your heart.

Rachel Rawlins, Matthew Lawrence and artists of The Australian Ballet in Maina Gielgud's Giselle. Photography Danielle Lyonne

Rachel Rawlins, Matthew Lawrence and artists of The Australian Ballet in Maina Gielgud’s Giselle. Photography Danielle Lyonne

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Connor Walsh and Karina Gonzalez: They’ve arrived!
Connor and Karina. Photography Kate Longley

Connor Walsh and Karina Gonzalez: They’ve arrived!

As if welcoming Gillian Murphy to the Sydney Opera House last week weren’t thrill enough, this week Houston Ballet Principals Connor Walsh and Karina Gonzalez joined us ahead of their performances as Solor and Nikiya in Stanton Welch’s La Bayadère.

Photography Kate Longley

Photography Kate Longley

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14 November 2014

Dame Maggie: Ballet legend
Margaret Scott in Graeme Murphy's Nutcracker - The Story of Clara. Photography Jim McFarlane

Dame Maggie: Ballet legend

This week, in the studios of our Melbourne HQ, Artistic Director David McAllister launched a new biography of Dame Margaret Scott. The book, by Michelle Potter, is called Dame Maggie Scott: A Life in Dance. And what a life!

Dame Maggie is a legend in the Australian dance community; and indeed, Australian ballet would not be in the shape it’s in today without her. She danced with the Sadler’s Wells Ballet, and was dancing with Ballet Rambert when she toured to Australia, fell for the place and settled there. She was instrumental in establishing both The Australian Ballet and The Australian Ballet School (which she directed from its inception in 1964 to 1990), and has shaped the careers of countless dancers, many of whom became stars of our company. (more…)

11 November 2014

Juliet Burnett on “Our Swan Lake”

Juliet Burnett on “Our Swan Lake”

When David McAllister commissioned Graeme Murphy to create a new Swan Lake for The Australian Ballet, I wonder if he had even the tiniest inkling of the magic he had just set in motion. Since 2002, the ballet has provoked zealous reactions from the public – sometimes polarising its audiences (good art can have that effect), often enrapturing them. The masterful reordering of Tchaikovsky’s score, Kristian Fredrikson’s unforgettable vision of white turning black, some of the finest examples of Murphy’s dramatic nous and unique choreographic language, the artists who have breathed life into the three pivotal protagonists: all have combined to produce a brilliant success for the company. Murphy’s Swan Lake has toured to London, Paris, Tokyo, New York, Shanghai and Cardiff, and we have just returned from a mammoth season in Los Angeles and Berkeley, where we roused immediate standing ovations at every one of the ten shows. We’ve performed it to sell-out crowds every year since its creation. But the success isn’t just in the statistics, or the undeniable fact of its importance in the history of Australian dance. For the dancers, including me, it goes much deeper than that.

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8 November 2014