For more than 160 years, Giselle has been viewed as the undisputed masterpiece of classical romantic ballet. David Dawson, one of the most exciting choreographers of our times, challenged himself to detach this eternal theme from the conditions of the 19th century and to explore it within the frames of its timelessness, using the language of the contemporary classical dance and reliving the magical palette of emotions, offered as by classical ballet as well as by the story of true love.
Giselle is a work that tries to explore the idea of love as both ordinary and extra-ordinary. This is the love that comes with sacrifice and responsibility and a belief, passed down through generations that the consequences of the betrayal are no longer just personal and temporal, but universal and eternal. Giselle faces an afterlife full of vengeance and has a similar choice to make that is rooted in a timeless question of classical literature: justice or mercy? Key to any interpretation of one of the greatest female roles of the classical canon is how Giselle makes this choice. It is true that she may have become a willy in form, but not in heart. And if Albrecht has found his heart by sacrificing hers, Giselle must convince with her total generosity of spirit. She doesn’t just save him. By refusing vengeance and remaining true to herself, she saves herself. Only in Giselle’s death did Albrecht ever feel the emotions of life so purely and passionately. In that single moment, life and death balanced each other, becoming the same thing wrapped in one.
For Dawson, Giselle and other characters are young people beautiful in their youthfulness, who live through realities that are comparable with those of the dancers that play them. But not only the story and personalities are taken out of time frames, since the choreographer suggests his own interpretation of the principles of classical dance through his own new choreographic stylistics and explores the coexistence of the past and present dance techniques, in which precision and refinement of classical ballet are woven into the tapestry of unbroken sequence of exquisite combinations, presented in boundless space.
The idea of universality and timelessness has found its further reflection in the completely re-orchestrated and fully rearranged original music by Adolphe Adam, signed by the conductor David Coleman, a new and pure look for the performing space by Arne Walther, an everlasting simplicity of form and shape in the costumes designed by Yumiko Takeshima and in the contradicting moods of the ever-changing sky, conjured up by light, designed by Bert Dalhuysen.
Dawson’s Giselle is a performance, distinguished by both the uniqueness and the innovative approach. While remaining true to himself and his style, David Dawson pays his homage to the original choreography, displaying the roots of his inspiration.