If I were to give the award to the best ballet that was non-Tchaikovsky, I would give it to Giselle. The story moves me every time and the music is just stunning throughout. There are some wonderful productions of Giselle available on DVD, and while this one is not the best or one of my favourites it is still well worth seeing. The only real major debit is the camera work, which was very poor and eventually headache-inducing. I'd actually go as far to say that it is among the worst camera work I've seen for any ballet production. With all the shots moving and jumping around so quickly, the constant cutting-away, shots of items with no relation whatsoever to what was going on on-stage, shots focusing on the wrong person/people entirely and a complete lack of intimacy, it came across as too self-indulgent and played too much like a music video. An approach that really detracts from the atmosphere of the second act.
Everything else is very good to excellent though. The costumes and sets are traditional and fitting with the mood of each scene and act, and are also quite attractive. The power and pathos of the score is reflected beautifully in the orchestral playing, and the conducting is suitably alert and sympathetic. The choreography is awe-inspiring, and the dancing of it likewise, the moves are very difficult but it doesn't look that way when you watch the dancers. The Willis are very well together in how they dance and interact and how they perform has a very hauntingly eerie quality. Toni Lander's Myrthe is marvellous in every sense, embodying mystery and coldness, as well as dancing with effortless elegance. Erik Bruhn does come across as too much of a stiff noble dramatically, but his dancing, jumps and technique is so good you are still captivated. He is dashing too. Carla Fracchi is entirely captivating as Giselle, every character quality is nailed, her arms and legs are perfectly balanced and she looks ever so graceful. Maybe she does look a tad stern and remote, I thought that it was a very interesting idea that actually worked very well, though some may find too much Odette in Fracchi's interpretation.
To conclude, the performance is excellent, but the camera work really lets it down. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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