Review: Akram Khan’s Giselle at Mayflower Theatre


This production of Giselle, with its haunting choreography and soundtrack, is a spectacle for getting into the Halloween mood.

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Akram Khan places a innovative spin on a timeless tale with this new production of Giselle. This edgy, unnerving and at times spooky ballet comes just in time to get you in the mood for Halloween!

The English National Ballet production of this classic, in the grand Mayflower Theatre, felt nothing short of a West End Experience. The production appeals to the contemporary audience. From the opening picture of the oppressive, boundary setting, a high wall, we get a clear sense of the director renewing the tale so it can point to relevant issues of today such as migration, inaccessibility and class separation.

Whether you are a regular attendee of the ballet or a first timer, this unconventional performance can be intriguing to all. I would recommend having a rough idea of the storyline prior to watching, as it would be hard it to follow without. Alina Cojocaru as Giselle and James Streeter as Albrecht are two very well established and experienced dancers, who both gave exceptional performances as the pair of ill-fated lovers. Their story is doomed from the outset due to their differing place and status in the society. We are met with two greatly contrasting groups of citizens divided by a great wall. The lovers cannot reconcile this difference in life, and Act 2 takes a creepy turn as the tale is taken to the complex realm between life and death. The production thrives in its telling of the emotions and tensions of the tale. The narrative choreography depicts the lovers intense love and devotion for one another in an intimate mesmerising duet, with beautiful lifts and embraces. When torn apart they both express devastation via grief stricken solos.

If your expectation of ballet content is plies and pirouettes, you would be impressed by the clever use of ballet in an unexpected and modern way. The technique and posture of classical ballet never falters, but it is interwoven with contemporary dance and styles from around the world, which creates a rich pool of movement. I could not help being impressed by the faultless standard of the company.

The whole mood and style of the dance is inseparable from the effective work of the large orchestra. The music was so tense, so grand and elaborate at times that it would not have been out of place in an epic film. The unnerving drum beats provided a constant building of suspense which drove the production forwards and kept the audience on their toes. The music signified changes of place and mood, this was most notable in the ghostly haunted sections of Act 2.

Take an escape to the theatre and immerse yourself in this unusual tale of love, loss and desperation. You won’t be disappointed.

Akram Khan’s Giselle is at Mayflower Theatre until tomorrow (Saturday 29th October).


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