Now in their 21st year, opening night of the English Youth Ballet’s 2019 season sees a performance of Giselle at the Regent Theatre, Hanley; where 100 local budding ballet dancers between the age of 8 and 18, get the opportunity to perform alongside professional dancers.
Giselle is a young girl with a weak heart but a passion for dancing. In Act One, our maiden falls in love with a nobleman, Prince Albert, who is already engaged. The Prince disguises himself as a footman to win over Giselle’s affections, hiding his sword and finery. Hilarion, a local gamekeeper and his girlfriend discover his true identity and try to warn Giselle against him. Seeing Giselle and Albert dance together, he reveals Albert as an imposter by confronting him with his ceremonial sword to confirm his true identity. Giselle is then horrified and becomes deranged at the sight of Albert kissing his fiancée. And with the shock of being betrayed, her heart gives out and she dies at the feet of Prince Albert.
In Act Two, Giselle is initiated into the Wilis (ghostly spirits betrayed by their lovers) by their Queen Myrtha. A heart broken Albert prays to see his beloved Giselle but Myrtha condemns the Prince to death by forcing him to dance till dawn. However, Giselle’s love counters the Wilis magic and saves Prince Albert’s life.
This performance by the English Youth Ballet smoothly integrates the expertise of the EYB principal dancers alongside the local children as the corps de ballet. Monica Tapiador was endearing as a lovestruck yet frail Giselle, and danced with grace and precision. She was supported in her role by the dashing, charming Mark Biocca, with a strong and athletic performance. Much of the choreography is performed by local dance school children who take on roles usually performed by ballet company members, and the accuracy to which they execute the dances was impressive. The children were spatially aware and interacted beautifully with the principal dancers. More importantly, they genuinely seemed to be enjoying the whole valuable experience.
The staging was kept very simplistic with minimal set changes between acts and lighting kept to an atmospheric level to enhance the dancers performance. Costumes and general appearance were excellent given the size of the cast involved.
The show is performed twice more at the Regent Theatre, matinee & evening Saturday 2nd March. The EYB then go on a national tour performing various ballets over the coming months.
Tour dates, venues & performances can be found at www.Englishyouthballet.co.uk/productionbookings.html