Saturday, August 17, 2013


Having meant to go and see the New Zealand Ballet perform Giselle when it was staged last year and somehow missing it, an opportunity to see the performance on screen instead seemed worth seizing. And the screen being the big one at the Embassy theatre made it even better. There was definitely a sense of occasion - the opening music gave me goosebumps.

The ballet has a somewhat bizarre plot which you can read about here. Suffice to say it's a rather tragic love story with the second act taking place at night which makes it very atmospheric.  Giselle is played by Gillian Murphy (a principal with American Ballet) and Qi Huan, a Chinese-born member of the New Zealand ballet, plays Albrecht. The performance is a  particularly good one and the chemistry between the two leads is  palpable.

While this is a film of a performance with a better view than you'd get if you were in the theatre, you also get some "special features" - like watching the DVD rather than going to cinema. We see Gillian and Qi rehearsing the second act pas-de-deux in the studio in plain clothes which allows you  to see that the chemistry isn't restricted to stage performances and that the dancing is just as awesome without the costumes, the scenery and the rest of the cast. We also see them separately in New York and Shanghai, and then together in the Catskill Mountains near in New York. If you thought redheads shouldn't wear red, you should see this film! Unlike many of the special features on a DVD,  the ones in this film really add to the experience of watching the film, and make you conscious of how good a job principals do of portraying a love story.

The costumes and scenery are both beautiful and atmospheric. The dancing is astounding at times- and not just by the two principals. As an experience it's thoroughly rewarding and if you don't feel like the whole film, do watch the trailer which gives you a bit of everything, including the red dress.

Anne's rating 4/5.

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