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Ballet brings fairytale to life

BRIDGET JONES
Last updated 10:30 30/11/2012
Giselle
EVAN LI/Fairfax NZ

HAUNTING: The Royal New Zealand Ballet brings Giselle to life in the most wonderful way.

Giselle
EVAN LI/Fairfax NZ
The Royal New Zealand Ballet brings Giselle to life in the most wonderful way.

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REVIEW: A tale of love and heartbreak, death and longing - Giselle is not the fairytale to pin your romantic dreams on, but the Royal New Zealand Ballet has certainly brought it to life in a most wonderful way.

One of the oldest surviving ballets still leaving its mark around the world, this Giselle has been superbly reconstituted by choreographers Ethan Stiefel and Johan Kobborg for this, the last ballet of the year for the country's finest ballet company.

The story is tight, and the whole thing is over in a heartbeat - just two beautiful scenes, two superbly crafted sets and two breathtaking hours.

The ballet tells the tale of a sweet peasant girl who has a passion for dancing, and when she finds out the man she loves is engaged to someone else she dies of a broken heart. 

Our Giselle, Antonia Hewitt, was everything a ballerina should be; controlled and precise; passionate and emotive.

Watching as her heart was won, and then crushed was a lesson in life and a master class in telling a story through dance.

Andrew Bowman danced the role of her lover Albrecht, making his welcome return to the New Zealand stage after decades away on the world scene. His partnering was expressive and strong, and his longing easy to spot in Act Two, when happy village life is left far behind and the audience are taken to a menacing forest scene where all is not right.

Special mention must, once more, be made of Lucy Balfour. Her turn as Myrtha, queen of the ghost-like Wilis, was hauntingly perfect.

And when joined by the 14 vengeful creatures themselves, the image - and sound - of 15 stunning dancers en Pointe was something not experienced often. It is moments like this that make the ballet lovers smile.

This production's road to the stage is set to be the subject of a feature film backed by the New Zealand Film Commission, and bravo for that decision. After all, if it means the performances can live on a little longer, then bring it on.

RNZB's Giselle

WHEN: until Sunday

WHERE: ASB Theatre, Auckland

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