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July 15, 2012


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Haglund, you need to replace alistair McCauley at the New York Times. We came from austin to see both Giselle and the 20th c. Masters, and we wholeheartedly agree with your review of the latter. We saw Giselle on the 13th and felt that Aurelie didn't convince us in act one but completely redeemed herself in act 2 ( exquisite) and we're curious to hear what you thought. Unlike alistair, we thought the first act set was lovely and that as a whole it's a beautifully conceived production. We're so happy to have made the trip...if you missed aurelie in bolero, that's a shame. We'll watch for your Giselle review with baited breath!! Thanks for your wonderful insights.

Ellen and Alexandra

Sorry it took so long to get this posted. It's been a very busy several days.

Macaulay hates writing about classical ballet now that everyone has found out that he does not know what he's talking about. He also hates and is threatened by beautiful women. So put the ballet Giselle and the beautiful women of the POB together, and why would anyone expect him to like it?

Macaulay thinks that he's going to redeem himself by writing ad nauseum about the Pina Bausch program in which he will portray himself as an expert. His review will probably start with, "Finally ..." or some other such nonsense.

Ellen, I'm so glad that you were able to make it up here from Austin and I do apologize or the weather.

Thanks for the explanation re: McCauley. We love your Giselle review and agree with everything you said about the performance we saw (Dupont/Ganio). What a privilege to have seen these performances! Oh, and as for the weather, remember that we live in hell...the weather here has been glorious for us! :).

Keep up the good work, and please say yes if the nyt calls...


I hope you get to see Dorothée Gilbert.

Yes, dc, I will see Dorothée Gilbert as I'm seeing ALL of the performances of Giselle!!

Oh, Haglund, yours is the review I've been waiting for, certainly not the so-called review that appeared in today's New York Times, based on a single performance and wholly without merit. We are all waiting for Macaulay to retire so that you can take the helm. Perhaps we should get those wilis after him--after all, they take no prisoners!

I, too, was fortunate to be able to attend all three performances, each of which had its gems. Aurelie Dupont, too sophisticated in appearance to be believable as a naive peasant girl, astonished in Act II as a fully realized novice wili, ghostlike and weightless. Having seen Marie-Agnes Gillot tear fearlessly into her jumps four years ago, I knew I couldn't die happy until I'd seen her do that once again. Thankfully, she delivered. And how fortunate we are to be able to see Clairemarie Osta, who must surely be one of the great Giselles of all time, in her penultimate (and I understand next week, ultimate) performance. It was only she who brought tears to my eyes at the end of Act I, assisted in no small part by the depth of grief shown by Christophe Duquenne as Hilarion.

Speaking of the men, I found the principal and soloist men less satisfying than the women. Perhaps, just as the Paris corps de ballet has now set the gold standard for evermore, so the "line" of David Hallberg has set the gold standard for me when it comes to male dancers. This is not a good thing, I realize, it is simply the case.

I LOVE the reduction of mime in favor of dance in Act I. With ABT's production, I get really bored for long stretches of Act I; in this version I wasn't bored for a minute. We don't really need borzois to have a creditable Giselle.

The only things I would wish for are: a less prominent cross for Giselle, as this one seemed enormous for a simple peasant girl; and swifter bourrees for the opening Myrtha sequence. I don't think that swifter bourrees would be considered "slumming," but perhaps POB would.

Merci beaucoup, Paris, and thank you, Haglund!

Hi Angelica!

I agree that the large size of that cross was hard to understand especially when the sizes of the two houses in Act 1 seemed unusually small. It did make me wonder whether in this Giselle maybe Albrecht pitched in a little extra money for the elaborate grave marker out of guilt. Or maybe Giselle was simply the favorite peasant girl of the village and so she got special treatment.

I couldn't quite understand why Myrtha's bourrees were not a little peppier, but in looking back it seems that they were deliberately ON the musical counts. Maybe that was the original design, but doing them faster would have created a more spirit-like image. Perhaps someone in France who is reading this will offer some thoughts.

Haglund, one more question! Was aurelie having trouble getting her hair loose on opening night, or did she intend for it to remain tied in sort of a braid? It seemed like she spent some time trying to loosen it...did the others pull theirs out completely?

See, we all agree that you should take McCauley's place!! Sic 'em, Wilis!

By the way, does the NYC ballet public pay any attention to what that imbecile writes?

Hi Ellen. I think you may be right about Aurelie having some trouble getting her hair loose. I get to see her again tomorrow night and will watch more closely.

Re: Macaulay. I think most people who pay attention to him do so in order to immediately try to mitigate the harm that he regularly does to ballet and its performers. He is intent on killing people's interest in classical ballet and steering them toward all the modern crap which he thinks he understands better. Lordy.


Wonderful review. I also attended the Dupont and Ciaravola Giselles, and I will be attending Gilbert's on Wednesday. I have to say I greatly enjoyed Dupont in both acts, but now I must agree with your reservations about her Act I. I thoroughly enjoyed watching her dance in Act I, she has wonderful technical ability and is a subtle actress, but she was more of a sophisticated member of soceity than a peasant. Osta I think had a slightly better grasp of the naivety within Giselle than Dupont, but she, too, seemed more comfortable conveying the spirit of Giselle in the second act. Ganio as Abrecht and Gillot as Willi Queen have predictably been standouts of the Giselle run. I can't wait to see Gilbert on Wednesday, as videos of her have really impressed me.

Hi Matthew.

I'm looking forward to seeing Gilbert, too, and Clairemarie Osta's final performance as well. It's my understanding that this will be THE final performance for Osta who had her official Farewell Performance in Paris last May. It would be nice to see a few flowers for her. I'd toss some, but from my $29 seat they'd land in someone's lap in the orchestra section.

I was told that the production in Paris uses a trap so that Giselle sinks back into the grave at the end. Maybe that has to do with the size of the cross. Two of the three shows I saw in DC had perfect misting effects, the depth almost to Myrtha's hemline. The slow bourees truly made her appear to float on the mist; coming downstage was very creepy. There was a particularly beautiful moment-twice, so I doubt it was serendipity- when Wilfrid swept Albrecht's cape and the mist rose in columns suggesting the appearance of the Wilis' bodies. Really fantastic stage work.

The production fit beautifully on the KenCen stage. It was the first time I remember the full height of the proscenium being used, no teaser used.

Hi dc. Oh, that sounds beautiful. So far, the mist hasn't been up to what you described but it's been beautiful nevertheless. When Albrecht circled the stage with his cape trailing him, the mist parted wonderfully. I'll look more closely this week!

what about dorthee gilbert last night wednesday in nyc as giselle

Hi Carol! Yes, I was at Dorothée's performance and will write about it after tonight's Giselle finale. She was exquisite.

So many Giselles; so little time.

Thanks for reading H.H.

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