Giselle: Dancing in the Graveyard

Last week, Boston Ballet began their 2019-2020 season with a spiritual force, a physical force, an artistic force and a dramatic force. America’s got talent and you don’t have to sit at home with a remote to experience it. In fact, you cannot fully experience it from your couch. I was invited to opening night as a guest to see what Boston Ballet with all its shifts and changes in company members has become.

I’m a sucker for dance and performance art shows on tv and am in awe at all the talented people there are in the world. As one guest judge mentioned recently, watching on TV is one thing but being there live is a whole other experience. Head out to the Opera House to not only hear the music from all the skilled musicians in the orchestra, but also see the talented dancers sharing their art. See the incredible costumes worked on by the skilled costume shop crew and let the sets and stage lights take your breathe away as soon as the curtains go up.

Boston Ballet in Giselle, photo by Rosalie O’Connor

While Giselle is the story of a woman with a frail heart, the women of Giselle collectively are a force to be reckoned with. If you are a fan of America’s Got Talent then you’ll find a little of everything in Giselle. The corps de ballet are your big story tellers setting the scene the way that Ndlovu does with their voices and Light Balance/Light Balance Kids does with their performances. Then you have the athleticism of some of the soloists and partnering, which are the Messoudi Brothers of Giselle. Lastly, you have the incredible performance quality and drama that Viktorina Kapitonova, Patrick Yocum and Paul Craig brought to their characters. What Benicio Bryant and Kodi Lee bring to the show with their voices, these dancers do with their movement. It silences the room and sucks everyone in.

Boston Ballet in Giselle, photo by Rosalie O’Connor

With Misa Kuranaga dancing on the other coast with San Fransisco Ballet, all eyes are on Viktorina Kapitonova. What I saw with this opening performance and first look at Kapitonova was something I look forward to partaking in for many performances to come. Kapitonova has gorgeous articulate feet and legs that seem to float up. She has a grace all her own, if misread this may seem like a backhanded complement, but I mean it genuinely. Her grace is unique and real. It is not prissy or cutesy— you can’t take your eyes off her dancing and yet broken down part by part her arms and fingers are not the soft rounded look of grace and her movement is not always light and soft in the traditional way. I’m not sure I’m conveying what I see so well but when you see Viktorina Kapitonova dance you will get it. For parts of Giselle, the character is intentionally awkward and derailed, and Kapitonova’s portrayal of a woman unraveling is both captivating and breath taking.

In addition, Viktorina Kapitonova pantomime is a true gift to Boston Ballet. She brings life to the story in a way that you almost forget you’re at the ballet. The story and the dancing are so tightly woven that you experience Giselle more viscerally.

Addie Tapp and Boston Ballet in Giselle, photo by Rosalie O’Connor

A lot of people have this image of ballerinas as being dainty and cutesy, but a whole lot of ballerinas I know are actually bad ass little powerhouse athletes with a little (or a lot) of edginess to them. If you saw Bitches Brew a few years ago you may already know that. Let your ballerina tap into her edgy self and take inspiration from a classic ballet this fall. Halloween is just around the corner and Giselle is full of inspiration. I mean a ballet whose second and final act is set in a mist covered graveyard with ghosts dancing their victims to death is the perfect way to get into the spirit of things —pun intended.

Giselle is running through Sunday, September 29th. It is performed at the Citizens Bank Opera House in Boston.

Tickets start at $37 and youth tickets (ages 2-17) in sections A and B are 50% off with purchase of an adult ticket on all performances of Giselle.

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