Here’s what the ballet newbie should know about Giselle, Pacific Northwest Ballet’s next production: It’s the story of a peasant girl who, after dying of a broken heart, struggles to save her lover from hordes of creepy Wilis—spectral would-be brides who force men to dance until they die.
In other words: drama, drama, drama.
Even if you’re a Giselle aficionado, PNB is premiering a version you’ve never seen before. As he points out in his program note, artistic director Peter Boal was initially stumped by how to incorporate Giselle into PNB’s repertoire. “I looked at impressive contemporary productions and time-honored traditional ones, never finding one that was right for us. I wanted to do more than recreate another company’s production and I didn’t want to choreograph one myself.”
The solution? While most modern productions take their cue from a 19th-century Russian adaptation by Marius Petipa, PNB chose a different route. Teaming up with dance historians Doug Fullington and Marian Smith, Boal drew on original French and Russian sources to reconstruct the ballet’s earliest Parisian choreography.
This month marks the 170th birthday of Giselle. If the preview below is any indication, she’s still looking pretty good for an old lady.
PNB’s Giselle premieres June 3.