Light and dark, day and night, youth and maturity, a flirtation and redemption, naturalistic and ethereal: “Giselle” spins a conjuror’s trick all the wilier for its very familiarity, its everlasting allurement. An autumnal village presented in Act I flips to reveal the ballet blanc of Act II: two halves of a whole. We know this, we anticipate this, we lap it up. Fermented in honey before interval, raising a flagon of mead to love, and even love’s folly, and unpinned madness, we heed the warnings spun to the villagers. The flipside to a light-hearted Peasant pas de deux is heartache and mourning. We are cognisant of the fact that when we return to our seats in the theatre, the scene will have changed. Light for dark. Day for night. Of the earth for beyond this realm. A village for the darkest forest floor of folkloric apparitions who demand you dance to your death. Raise your flagon of mead for raise your ghostly spirits, cloaked in a shawl spun by otherworldly spiders.
Ako Kondo and Ty King-Wall in the Australian Ballet's “Giselle.” Photograph by Jeff Busby