Entrancing performance

Giselle, by the Royal New Zealand Ballet. At the Civic Theatre, Invercargill

Antonia Hewitt is surely the most beguiling Giselle ever, her performance in that role with the romantic ballet of that name absolutely entrancing in Invercargill last night.

The age-old tale of unrequited love, betrayal, recrimination, death _ and reconciliation_ was played out movingly on stage at the Civic Theatre in a new version of the century old work which is being made into a feature film by the Royal New Zealand ballet with the support of the New Zealand Film Commission.

And of course it is a perfect fit, Giselle a story portrayed in dance, encapturing mood with music movement and light.

Partnering Hewitt, returning Kiwi principal dancer Andrew Bowman in the lead role of Albrecht, the man responsible for breaking Giselle's heart.

Giselle is a ballet of two halves, the first in a little village square aching with autumn colours under a glorious tree, love blooming, a wedding celebrated, a dressy hunting party visiting_ all colour and life, dance with subtle perfection.

The second half plays in a ghostly cemetery a golden moon low in the trees casting an eerie cold silvery light on stiffly skirted dancers moving white and quiet in serried tip toe rows urging treacherous men to dance to their death.

The "wilis,'' ghosts of jilted brides, are relentless, menacing in their veiled mystery, the atmosphere chilling. Scary.

Along the row, a little girl in red boots suddenly said have they gone bad?

Seemed they had, all the colour and beauty drained out of stiff little figures whose heads and fingers said yes, no, come, go with unequivocal clarity, dancers with technical finesse showing what they were made of, showing ultimately how the power of forgiveness and redemption can overcome the anguish of love and betrayal..

Marvellous dancers all, and lovely to see evergreen Jon Trimmer on stage, his grey beard making credible a career in dance for guys in the company, among them Invercargill born Harry Skinner studying extramurally through Massey for a degree in political science and fellow former Southlander Nicholas Palmer, pianist to the NZ Ballet, in the audience with his mother Mary.

It was an enchanting evening which will be repeated in the south tonight and at the Regent Theatre in Dunedin with the Southern Sinfonia playing this coming weekend, Saturday November 24, Sunday November 25.

Wonderful pre Christmas treat, for yourself or to share.

The Southland Times