Left – Madeleine Eastoe. Photo – Daniel Boud
Romance, betrayal, death and redemption, it has all the makings of a modern day soap opera and yet The Australian Ballet’s latest production of Giselle is a throwback to the Great Romantic Ballets of the 19th Century. The heroine, played by the recently announced retiring Madeleine Eastoe is at times an insipid creature whose innocence leads to her untimely and tragic death. Eastoe is technically brilliant in the demanding role that has been performed by some of the world’s most iconic ballerinas (Carlotto Grisi and Anna Pavlova to name some of the earliest performances).
Kevin Jackson in his debut as a principal dancer for the company is divine as the two-timing Count Albrecht and somehow makes his caddish character slightly forgivable or at very least pitiable in his quest for redemption.
The two leads are joined onstage by guest artists Lisa Bolte (a former Giselle herself) as Berthe, Giselle’s over-protective mother and the incomparable Steven Heathcote as the Duke of Courland, whom have a few scene stealing moments between them.
In the same manner of the original “romantic ballet” La Sylphide, Giselle’s greatest moments are within the quietly eerie choreography of Act 2. After raising Giselle from her grave The Wilis (lead by Ako Kondo) a ghostly group of girls whom betrayed by their lovers now haunt the forest forcing men to dance with them until they die from exhaustion, encourage Giselle to murder the unfaithful Albrecht who has guiltily come to mourn at her grave.
Forever faithful, Giselle keeps Albrecht alive and the Wilis have no power over him. By dawn Albrecht is free to go taking his guilt of Giselle’s continuing sacrifices and ultimate demise.
The stunning choreography of the Wilis is a highlight of Giselle, the chorus moving as if liquid silk across the stage. Commanding both respect and fear, the Wilis continue to evoke fragility within their movements.
An incredible cast of both upcoming and retiring dancers, The Australian Ballet is constantly evolving whilst remaining respectful of the classic pieces of dance. As their maiden production for 2015, The Australian Ballet has brought back a classic piece of theatre that will continue to be watched and enjoyed for many years to come.
The Australian Ballet presents
Venue: State Theatre | The Arts Centre, Melbourne 3004
Dates: 13 – 23 March 2015
Tickets: from $39
Bookings: artscentremelbourne.com.au | australianballet.com.au