Giselle review at Coliseum, London – ‘Alina Cojocaru is exquisite’
English National Ballet triumphed last year with Akram Khan’s re-imagined Giselle. Now they return to the rustic Rhineland with Mary Skeaping’s traditional tulle-filled production – and it’s wonderful to see the company dance both contemporary and classical versions with full-on commitment and dramatic verve.
Skeaping’s production honours the 1841 original, using the fullest form of Adolphe Adam’s score, sensitively played by the ENB Philharmonic – despite an unfortunately constipated woodwind squawk in Act II. David Walker’s winsomely leafy designs use a gorgeous autumnal palette that heralds the sadness to come.
Act I’s mimed passages are legible rather than a longueur, making clear the combined danger of Giselle’s dodgy heart and love of dancing. As expected, Alina Cojocaru brings sublime artistry to the role. Dance is a double-edged life-force for this gentle heroine, by which she’s transmuted from fragile, skittish girl into an emotionally expansive being. The buoyancy of her hops on point, the giddiness of her turns and elasticity of her jump all speak of burgeoning joy at the feelings awoken in her by Albrecht.
As the latter, Isaac Hernandez displays lovely elevation but he’s let down by the occasional stumble and tentative characterisation. It’s hard to believe in him as a deceptive lothario or as a chancer reliant on puppyish charm. Fernando Bufala’s jealous Hilarion has an appropriately earthy swagger and he’s efficiently dispatched in Act II by a well-drilled corps of baleful Wilis. Laurretta Summerscales excels as the imperious Myrtha, with her athletic leaps conjuring up a gloriously malevolent man-hating energy.
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