Review: Giselle (Joffrey Ballet)

| October 23, 2017

Victoria Jaiani and Temur Suluashvili star in Giselle, Joffrey Ballet Chicago 4             


Music by Adolph Adam
Adapted by Lola de Ávila 
Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress (map)
thru Oct 29  |  tix: $34-$104  |  more info
Check for half-price tickets    


Eerie and unforgettable


Giselle by Adolphe Adam, Joffrey Ballet Chicago 3

Joffrey Ballet presents

Review by Lauren Whalen

Most ballets are emotional, but in terms of true feeling, Giselle may just take the cake. The ballet, which premiered in Paris in 1841 and whose lead role has become a dream for many ballerinas, encompasses love, madness and vengeance as well as a dramatic score, beautiful mime and choreography that borders on otherworldly. The Joffrey Ballet’s premiere of a newly-staged Giselle doesn’t disappoint, wringing out every possible drop of excitement, in a production that’s equal parts breathtaking and horrifying, hands-down one of the best ballets I’ve ever seen.

Victoria Jaiani stars in Giselle at Joffrey Ballet ChicagoSet in Middle Ages Rhineland, Giselle opens in a peasant village, where wealthy royal Albrecht goes undercover to enjoy the village’s annual grape harvest and festival. He quickly meets and falls in love with Giselle, a sweet young woman with a weak heart and a protective mother. But trouble quickly arises as Albrecht’s fiancée Bathilde visits the village, and Giselle’s would-be suitor, the gamekeeper Hilarion, sets out to reveal Albrecht’s true identity. Soon, Giselle, Albrecht and Hilarion find themselves in the underworld, at the mercy of the Wilis, ghosts of jilted women with revenge on their minds. Who will survive? Will love ever be enough?

Giselle’s original choreography is courtesy of ballet legend Marius Petipa, and has been reimagined for the modern stage by Lola De Ávila, former Associate Director of the San Francisco Ballet School. Her restaging is equal parts sensuous and disturbing, combining difficult technical dance and pantomime that conveys an entire plotline in a series of small but meaningful gestures. Aldolphe Adam’s lush, romantic score remains, flawlessly executed by a live orchestra led by Conductor Scott Speck, a perfect complement to the action. Peter Farmer’s scenic and costume designs are simple but evocative, with cozy housefronts and trees that look real and imposing.

Giselle by Adolphe Adam, Joffrey Ballet Chicago 1Temur Suluashvili stars in Giselle, Joffrey Ballet Chicago Rory Hohenstein, Temur Suluashvili and Victoria Jaiani star in Giselle, Joffrey Ballet ChicagoVictoria Jaiani and Temur Suluashvili star in Giselle, Joffrey Ballet Chicago Victoria Jaiani and Temur Suluashvili star in Giselle, Joffrey Ballet Chicago 3Victoria Jaiani stars in Giselle, Joffrey Ballet ChicagoGiselle by Adolphe Adam, Joffrey Ballet Chicago 2

Though the cast rotates each performance, the four leads at my performance were all portrayed by dancers of color, and each executed the choreography and mime as if they were second nature. As Hilarion, Miguel Angel Blanco was the perfect spurned lover whose good intentions lead to an untimely demise. Gayeon Jung and Edson Barbosa have a lovely and bright pas de deux in the ballet’s first half, and Cara Marie Gary and Anais Bueno shine as terrifying Wilis in an act two duet. Jeraldine Mendoza is a force of nature as Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis, gorgeous but utterly unmerciful. Dylan Gutierrez’s Albrecht is strong but vulnerable, light on his feet but conveying an air of gravitas. And Christine Rocas’ Giselle is nothing short of a tour de force, a culmination of years of hard work and training. Giselle is one of the most physically and emotionally demanding roles in ballet, and when Rocas is onstage, one is unable to tear your eyes away from her.

Any company who undertakes Giselle has their work cut out for them, and the Joffrey – a gifted, diverse ensemble who regularly turn out challenging ballets with beautiful, unique style – is more than up to the task. This season marks the tenth for Artistic Director Ashley Wheater, and Giselle was the first ballet he worked on at the Joffrey. This production is a triumph for Wheater and company, a celebration of a stellar career, a gift that keeps giving for two hours that pass like two minutes. This Giselle is both catnip for balletomanes and a worthy introduction for those new to the art form. On the night I attended, the bravas and cheers, like the Wilis, were relentless and unending, a moment in time worth rejoicing.

Rating: ★★★★

Giselle continues through October 29th at Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress Parkway (map).  Tickets are $34-$104, and are available by phone (312-341-2300) or online through their website (check for availability of half-price tickets). More information at time: 2 hours, includes an intermission) 

Joan Sebastián Zamora, Victoria Jaiani, Greig Matthew and Temur Suluashvili star in Giselle, Joffrey Ballet Chicago

Photos by Cheryl Mann 




The Joffrey Ballet: Matthew Adamczyk, Derrick Agnoletti, Yoshihisa Arai, Amanda Assucena, Edson Barbosa, Miguel Angel Blanco, Anais Bueno, Fabrice Calmels, Raúl Casosola, Valeriia Chaykina, Nicole Ciapponi, Lucia Connolly, April Daly, Fernando Duarte, Olivia Duryea, Cara Marie Gary, Stefan Goncalvez, Luis Eduardo Gonzalez, Dylan Gutierrez, Rory Hohenstein, Dara Holmes, Riley Horton, Yuka Iwai, Victoria Jaiani, Hansol Jeong, Gayeon Jung, Yumi Kunazawa, Brooke Linford, Greig Matthew, Graham Maverick, Jeraldine Mendoza, Jacqueline Moscicke, Aaron Renteria, Christine Rocas, Chloé Sherman, Temur Suluashvili, Olivia Tang-Mifsud, Alonso Tepetzi, Elivelton Tomazi, Alberto Velazquez, Joanna Wozniak, Joan Sebastián Zamora

behind the scenes 

For Giselle: Ashley Wheater (artistic director), Scott Speck (conductor), Marius Petipa, after Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot (original choreography), Lola De Ávila (staging), Adolphe Adam (music), Peter Farmer (scenic and costume design), Pittsburgh Ballet Theater (scenery and costumes, courtesy of), Michael Mazzola (lighting design), Cheryl Mann (photos)

For the Joffrey Ballet: Greg Cameron (executive director), Robert Joffrey, Gerald Arpino (founders), Gerard Charles (director of operations, ballet master), Nicolas Blanc (ballet master, principal coach), Adam Blyde, Suzanne Lopez (ballet masters), Grace Kim, Michael Moricz (company pianists)

April Daly (center) stars in Giselle, Joffrey Ballet Chicago Victoria Jaiani and Temur Suluashvili star in Giselle, Joffrey Ballet Chicago 7 Victoria Jaiani and Temur Suluashvili star in Giselle, Joffrey Ballet Chicago 5Victoria Jaiani and Temur Suluashvili star in Giselle, Joffrey Ballet Chicago 8Victoria Jaiani and Temur Suluashvili star in Giselle, Joffrey Ballet Chicago 4Giselle by Adolphe Adam, Joffrey Ballet Chicago 4


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: 2017 Reviews, Auditorium Theatre, Dance, Joffrey Ballet, Lauren Whalen

Comments (0)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

There are no comments yet. Why not be the first to speak your mind.

Comments are closed.