Ballet News Reviews | The Mikhailovsky Ballet, Giselle

Ballet News Reviews | The Mikhailovsky Ballet, Giselle

Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev in Giselle © The Mikhailovsky Theatre

Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev in Giselle © The Mikhailovsky Theatre

Giselle, ou Les Wilis

The Mikhailovsky Ballet

Tuesday 26th March 2013

London Coliseum

What a night. One of those rarer-than-hens-teeth nights in the theatre when you’re transported into the ballet and time stands still.

The sets for the Mikhailovsky Ballet’s Giselle are beautiful – first rustic and crisp and later soulful and still. But the star of the night has to be Natalia Osipova as Giselle. She was perfect in every way. She acts the part right to her quivering fingernails, so complete is her transformation from peasant girl to ghost. During the peasants’ Autumn feast Giselle is entranced by the Count’s fiancee (Olga Semyonova) and her finely detailled clothes, and Osipova is so touching in these scenes as she reaches out to touch the fabric without being seen, mimes sewing her own skirt or as she reassures her mother (tenderly danced by Anna Novosyolova) that she’s really fine.

But her dancing. Oh my goodness, her dancing. Osipova’s feet are as soft as butter and feather light. She can fly, I’m sure of it. Gravity has nothing on her and the adagio sections went beyond all reasonable human expectation.

When she loses her mind after discovering that the man she is in love with is betrothed to another, she softly mimes her earlier joy at being with him as she recalls the good times, her feet gently and sadly going through the steps she had danced with such happiness earlier.

Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev in Giselle © The Mikhailovsky Theatre

Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev in Giselle © The Mikhailovsky Theatre

Ivan Vasiliev danced his heart out as the hapless Count, and their pas de deux at the graveside was beyond compare (I’ll forgive the slightly clunky partnering because he never once strayed from the essence of the character and together they were dynamite). I can also forgive the undecided scenery in Act 11 when a couple of bits of tree couldn’t decide whether to stay or go.

Ekaterina Borchenko, as the imperious Queen of the Wilis, commanded the stage and did not give so much as an inch as Giselle pleaded with her to save her lover. By dawn the Wilis lose their powers and the Count is saved, but Giselle’s ghost returns to her tomb and he is left alone. Both Wilis’ variations were well-timed and emotional, danced by Asthik Ogannesian and Valeria Zapasnikova.

I’m not massively fond of the mechanism for whisking off the Wilis’ veils. I think it adds more melancholic intensity if they keep them on for longer, and remove them off-stage, but there was no faulting the Corps who were perfectly in sync and never wavered in their ghoulish task.

This is Nikita Dolgushin’s production, premiered at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in 2007, with choreography by Jean Coralli, Jules Perrot and Marius Petipa and Adolphe Adam’s music. Osipova and Vasiliev took the performance to another level. The pair looked emotionally spent by the end, and the audience rose as one in recognition and thanks.


Giselle is in rep until 29th March



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4 Responses to Ballet News Reviews | The Mikhailovsky Ballet, Giselle

  1. Ballet News March 27, 2013 at 10:57 am #

    Deborah Fielding commented : Ooh really glad you enjoyed it. Can’t wait. Just the thought of it is keeping me going!

  2. Ballet News March 27, 2013 at 10:58 am #

    Vicki Lawrence commented : I was at this performance. Osipova was truly astonishing. Too much talk of Vasiliev being too short and stocky for the role of Albrecht – he was amazing and in the second act both of them were unbelievable. I have waiting to see this for some time and was not disappointed. Brilliant dancing, brilliant partnering and acting. One of those very special evenings.

  3. Richard Davis March 27, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

    The only word to descibe Natalia is exceptional.

  4. Ballet News March 27, 2013 at 3:23 pm #

    Gina Milroy commented : It was perfect in every way – can’t wait for Saturday’s DQ!