‘Haunting yet moving’: The English National Ballet’s Giselle stuns the Bristol Hippodrome

PUBLISHED: 07:04 19 October 2016 | UPDATED: 08:16 19 October 2016

Alina Cojocaru and Isaac Hernandez in Akram Khan's Giselle. Picture: Laurent Liotardo

Alina Cojocaru and Isaac Hernandez in Akram Khan's Giselle. Picture: Laurent Liotardo


The English National Ballet has built a reputation of pushing the boundaries of the dance, and the company did just that with an intense but stunning performance of Giselle at the Hippodrome last night (Tuesday).

Cesar Corrales in Akram Khan's Giselle. Picture: Laurent Liotardo Cesar Corrales in Akram Khan's Giselle. Picture: Laurent Liotardo

While I certainly will not proclaim I am an expert on ballet – in fact quite the opposite – this is certainly not how I imagined a traditional ballet would play out.

The story is a relatively simple one. It is a dramatic tale of a love which is interrupted by the Landlords, who have control over everything and reveal the heart-breaking truth to Giselle as she discovers her lover is otherwise engaged.

Giselle’s life falls apart in front of our eyes and after her fall from grace we follow her battle between death and her presence in the ghost factory.

The talent on display is truly phenomenal and the first act is certainly not ballet as you might expect it to be presented.

Cesar Corrales and Stina Quagebeur in Akram Khan's Giselle. Picture: Laurent Liotardo Cesar Corrales and Stina Quagebeur in Akram Khan's Giselle. Picture: Laurent Liotardo

There is a huge amount of ensemble work and Akram Khan’s choreography is pure perfection. But there is a slight modern twist to the dance.

Hilarion, played by Cesar Corrales, is a character who tries to woo Giselle. He strikes up a relationship with the landlords for his – and his community’s – profit.

But his performance even has elements of what I would call street dance in it with the movement of his body, and the high-tempo nature of some of the dances which he leads, resembling the more modern style.

The second act is something of a true spectacle and if you enjoy ballet, this will certainly leave you mesmerised.

A word to describe the company’s performance after the interval has to be haunting. The ghost world is revealed and the women from the after life all perform on point.

The strength needed to perform such high-intensity and yet dainty choreography while on point is truly mesmerising.

Their character-building is also perfect as there was an eery atmosphere, which you could feel throughout the theatre, as the women sought revenge for events which went before in their past life.

I genuinely felt an element of fear throughout the second act. Credit must, of course, also go to the live orchestra. The music was stunning and for someone who is not knowledgeable about ballet or classical music, I was impressed by how beautiful some of the score was – but also how creepy the stage felt at times.

At one hour and 55 minutes, it was the perfect length as it is certainly an intense piece of theatre but I can guarantee it is one which you will not forget in a hurry.

Giselle will be at The Bristol Hippodrome from tonight (Wednesday) until Saturday.

There will be performances at 7.30pm each evening, with matinees at 2pm on Thursday and 2.30pm on Saturday. Tickets, priced £13.90-49.40 are available online via the Hippodrome website or on 08448 713012.


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