Suzi (k00kaburra) wrote,

Ballet San Jose: Giselle

On Saturday night, Kitty and I went out to dinner at a sushi restaurant.  Umi Sushi off Almaden Expressway.  Very tasty.  Kinda pricey for what you get, but we had tons of leftovers so I guess I can't complain that the food wasn't plentiful.  Anyway.  We were having a nice evening out - first dinner, to be followed by a ballet performance in downtown San Jose.

The ballet we were seeing was Giselle.  It's one of my personal favorites; a pretty villager named Giselle, living in mythical small town Europe, falls in love with a noble.  She thinks it's true love, so when she finds out he's already engaged she dies of a broken heart.  Her ghost joins the Wilis and haunts the graveyard with the spirits of other young women who died virgins.  They kill any men who stray into their territory by dancing them to death.   Isn't that a perfect Halloween ballet?  It's got ethereal dancing, a spooky atmosphere, and an epic story. 

I thought about dragging Seanie along, to increase his ballet exposure, but I thought better of it.  I remembered how Kitty and I used to go to shows together all the time, but we hadn't done so in years.  A wave of nostalgia washed over me, so I gave her a call earlier in the week and thus our Saturday evening was planned.

It was a really beautiful ballet.  My favorite dancer, Maximo Califano, was performing the role of Hilarion, a huntsman in love with Giselle.  Hilarion gets a really raw deal.   After all, if the noble Albrecht had never appeared Hilarion and Giselle would have probably ended up happily married with a dozen children.  Instead, Hilarion is cast aside by Giselle.  After she's dead, he is the one to visit her grave and erect a cross to mark it, but how is he repaid for his devotion?  Killed by the Wilis.  It's really sad.  Califano is perfect in the role, because he is so expressive in his dancing.  Every thought and emotion Hilarion feels is clearly shown.  In previous productions of Giselle that I've seen, Hilarion would seem controlling of Giselle, not in love so much as just in pursuit of his latest conquest.  I like this sympathetic version better.  
The title character was danced by Alexsandra Meijer, who is another beautiful and capable dancer.  She made Giselle into the lovestruck, silly teenager that she was while alive, and when Giselle became one of the Wilis Meijer changed gears and made her seem much more mature.

It's too bad that the ballet only performs for a single weekend; by the time I get around to telling people about it, the performances have ended.  But I'm excited about this year's season - Ballet San Jose will also be performing Swan Lake and Carmen in 2011. I can't wait!

The Wilis from Giselle
Tags: art, ballet, san jose

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