A Parent’s Review: Giselle at Pacific Northwest Ballet
Giselle isn’t a “family ballet” – there are no fairies or princesses here. But if, like me, you have an older child (about age 7 and older) who’s into dance, it’s well worth taking him or her to this classic ballet, restaged by Pacific Northwest Ballet artistic director Peter Boal. First, because Giselle is one of the most famous of ballets, and secondly, because there is some stunning choreography and dancing.
The strange tale of Giselle was created in the Romantic era. Giselle is a young peasant girl who is wooed, then betrayed, by a nobleman who has hidden his identity. When Giselle learns that she has been betrayed, she goes mad and dies. Thus ends Act I.
In Act II, Giselle has joined the Wilis, a ghostly group of young brides-to-be who were scorned and died before their wedding day. The Wilis come out in the forest at night, dancing wildly as they were never able to in life and trying to force young men to dance themselves to death. Albrecht, the duke-in-disguise who drove Giselle to her tragic death, nearly succumbs to the Wilis. He is saved by Giselle who dances with him until dawn, when the Wilis lose their power. As my 8-year-old daughter sagely pointed out, young kids might get nightmares from this ghostly tale.
What made the ballet great for my daughter and me was the unusual and striking choreography and dancing, particularly in Act II, when the ghostly Wilis, all dressed in white, grace the stage. I was taken by the dancing the corps did in this act, which was far more than pretty background dancing. The dancing of Albrecht and Giselle in this act is equally striking.
A friend who has been going to PNB performances for many years tells me that she thinks the male dancers have really come into their own under Peter Boal, and from this ballet I believe it. Albrecht is far from a mere easel for the lovely pirouettes and lifts of Giselle.
This is the first time PNB has performed Giselle, and to create this version, a team of experts went back to a mid-19th century rehearsal score and an elaborate notation made in the 1860s that has only recently been published.
We’re lucky to have this restaging of such a classic for our kids to see, and to enjoy ourselves.
If You Go...
Where: McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer Street, Seattle.
When: Thursday, June 9 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, June 10 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, June 11 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, June 12 at 1 p.m.
Admission: $27 to $165. $15 tickets for ages 25 and under: Thursday and Friday, June 9 and 10 at 7:30 p.m. One ticket for $15 or two for $25. (Each attendee must present valid ID upon ticket retrieval.) Teen Tix: PNB is a proud participant of Seattle Center’s Teen Tix program. Young people 13 to 19 years old can purchase tickets to PNB performances and other music, dance, theater and arts events for only $5. To join Teen Tix or view a list of participating organizations, visit seattlecenter.com/teentix.