I wasn’t going to write about dance two weeks in a row, but I had to – these reviews were calling out to me from the arts pages of both national and B.C. publications. Plus, I’m a sucker for modernized adaptations of classics, especially those that switch up a central concept and make it feel plausible.
The classical ballet I’m talking about is Giselle, and the big switch involves the story’s central love triangle. In the original, Giselle finds out that her beau is actually a nobleman betrothed to another. In Ballet British Columbia’s version, Giselle’s lover, Albrecht, is actually in love with another man.
The reviews are all mostly positive. Straight.com’s Janet Smith sets up the plot changes right away, opening with a descriptive paragraph that drops you right into the atmosphere of the production. “The curtain lifted to stark silence, an army of droidlike dancers in black suits lined up militarily…. Male dancers Connor Gnam and Gilbert Small crossed the stage to meet, took each other’s heads passionately in their grip, and locked lips.” Two other reviews I found, one in the Vancouver Sun and the other from the Globe and Mail, agree that this is the riskiest production Ballet British Columbia has put on this season.
However, although the Vancouver Sun has virtually nothing negative to say about Giselle, the Globe and Mail gets more technical in their analysis. Paula Citron writes that even though she enjoyed the performance, she found the four main dancers lacking.
Despite some technicalities, all reviewers agreed that the performance was a breath of fresh air, with the Vancouver Sun’s Deborah Meyers calling it “the most significant new work in the company’s history.”
I like how all three reviews use the poetic, dance-related vocabulary that I was discussing in my column last week. For example, Smith writes, “And when the 18-member chorus starts dancing, Navas really shows his stuff: the stage fills with bodies, a blur of figures cutting zigzags and apostrophes in the air.”
It’s reading reviews like this that make me happy to be delving into the wide world of theatre reviews for this weekly column. As dance is not my primary style of interest, I love any review that makes me want to see it. The only thing that is less fun is that often, this time included, I wish I could attend these performances. If anyone wants to buy me a ticket to Vancouver (and a time machine, since the last performance of Giselle was on the 27th), hit me up!
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