Earthy peasant to ethereal spirit, Giselle is one of the most challenging roles for a dancer and Agnes Oaks partnered by her husband Thomas Edur as Albrecht excelled in this welcome return of English National Ballet’s long-standing production. Doing the steps is only part of Giselle’s task, it is her acting ability including the mad scene and transformation from a human into a spirit that taxes the performer.
Agnes Oakes gave a star ballerina performance which appealed to the heartstrings as well as those with a technical eye for detail. Thomas Edur did not fail her as a partner presenting a believable character in his love and last act remorse with a sense of the dramatic. This partnership is a draw for audiences but there are also other interesting castings during this run.
Joyful rustic dancing at the wine festival by the excellent dancers of ENB contrasted in Act II with the well rehearsed controlled coolness of the disturbed spirits, the Wilis. Sarah Mcllroy gave a performance that had all the chilling cruelty the role of Myrtha demands ably supported by Adela Ramirez as Zulma and the Moyna of Fernanda Oliveira.
David Walker’s designs ensured the rustic setting was enchanting and the forest spooky with David Mohr’s recreated lighting. Martin West securely conducted the ENB orchestra in Adolphe Adam’s score. Dating from 1841 this ballet and this 36-year-old production has stood the test of time remaining popular with audiences. Well worth seeing or seeing again.