LVBC: GISELLE Act II & NSD: SPRING RECITAL
By: Hal de Becker
In one of their most challenging undertakings to date, Las Vegas Ballet Company (LVBC) presented Act II of the timeless classic Giselle at Summerlin Library Performing Arts Center.
The ballet is the embodiment of the mid-19th century Romantic period during which art, music, opera and literature as well as dance were influenced by the public’s fascination with fantasies of the supernatural.
Giselle exemplifies that period with a band of ghostly Wilis, the spirits of deceived maidens, who in the ballet’s second act seem to float across the stage in their diaphanous white skirts.
It was premiered in 1841 in Paris with choreography by Corali and Perrot which has no doubt undergone some changes over the last 181 years.However, the musical score by Adolphe Adam vividly articulates the ballet’s overall action and atmosphere.
In Act one of the ballet Albrecht, a young nobleman already engaged to marry a Duke’s daughter, has captured the heart of an innocent and unworldly village maiden, Giselle.When his deception is exposed, Giselle goes mad and dies.
In Act II Albrecht, filled with remorse, visits her grave at night and encounters the Wilis who sentence him to dance to his death.The forgiving Giselle, now a Wili herself, helps him to keep dancing until dawn when the vengeful spirits lose their power.Her spirit then departs leaving forever the grief stricken Albrecht.
Under the direction of LVBC’s founders and principal dancers, Kyudong Kwak andYooomi Lee, the 24 youthful dancers achieved a high level of the ballet’s technical and artistic demands.They were clearly well-rehearsed technically and well-informed artistically in the ballet’s correct style and mood.
The corps de ballet made an especially beautiful picture as it crossed the stage with legs held steadily in arabesques of equal height from which long skirts curved gracefully downward. The dancers’ poses were uniform and controlled, their concentration focused and their manner appropriately spectral.
Solo roles were taken by alternate casts. At the performance I attended, Alexandra Keft, with dominant elevation and imperious manner, was persuasive as Queen of the Wilis -- as I expect Miranda Jackson was at a later performance. Isabella Schleiker, as one of the solo Wilis, was outstanding. Caine Keenan played Hilarion a villager also in love with Giselle.
Ms. Lee, in the title role, was technically flawless and used her slender lines and delicate beauty to impart the full sense of Giselle’s frailty and tender love of Albrecht. It was a sensitive, memorable performance of a role she seemed born to dance.
As Albrecht, Mr. Kwak’s portrayal of the once vain and selfish nobleman now a tragic figure of guilt and regret was touching and insightful. His soaring leaps and precise double air turns were exciting and, as his character’s strength slowly declined, his skill in gradually diminishing their technical quality was equally impressive.
Also on the program and danced by younger students of the Kwak Academy, were excerpts from Midsummer Night’s Dream and Les Patineurs (both misspelled in the playbill). The company’s talented and dedicated costume department outdid itself in all the numbers, especially Giselle.
At the performance I saw, the white backdrop and inept lighting were glaring contradictions to the graveyard scene’s dark, mysterious mood and harmed rather than helped the production.(Considering the huge increases in library theater rental fees,organizations that manage to pay them deserve better.)
Nevada School of Dance (NSD) presented its annual Spring Dance Recital at the Faith Lutheran High School Performing Center. Students of all ages performed in an eclectic program ranging from Zumba to Sleeping Beauty excerpts.
The school’s ballet mistress, Ella Gourkova, and her husband Sergey Popov, its co-director, provided much of the delightful classical and character choreography all of which was well danced, clearly demonstrating the progress being made by the youngsters.
Matt Rivera’s neo-classic Mishima was a compelling work possibly in homage to the Japanese writer of that name. It was danced on pointe by three of Ms. Gourkova’s advanced students Valeria Cruz-Colon, Flavia Morante and Selena Rizova.
Other highlights included an eye catching ‘ribbon dance’, The Flying Goddess, choreographed by Shirley Chen and beautifully performed by Victoria Vuong; and Zumba Crew, in which Luz Morante and her team gave a rousing rendition of a Zumba dance-exercise workout. Whew!