Previews | DANCE

BALLET ROYAL NEW ZEALAND BALLET: GISELLE Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Tue 27–Sat 31 Oct FESTIVAL PIONEERS OF PERFORMANCE Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Sat 12 Sep, then touring

It’s one of the oldest French ballets in the classical canon, but in the hands of an American and a Dane, working in New Zealand, Giselle has received an international makeover. Living in the Central Belt, opportunities to see live physical theatre and dance are plentiful. But travelling around Scotland, Laura Eaton-Lewis discovered that not everybody was getting their dance fix.

Co-created for Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB) by Ethan Stiefel and Johan Kobborg, the popular narrative dance has retained its traditional feel, but found some new choreography. Years of planning later, and Pioneers of Performance is finally ready to go on the road, touring all over the country. At each stop on the journey, four shows will be performed during a ‘one day festival’ of dance.

As dancers, both Stiefel and Kobborg performed the lead male role of

Albrecht many times in the past. And for Kobborg in particular, Giselle has a special place in his heart, having been the first production he performed in as a young dancer in the Royal Danish Ballet. So both men had an understanding of the cad who betrays innocent village girl Giselle, leading to her death (although Albrecht more than gets his comeuppance in Act Two, when Giselle and the famous ‘wilies’ haunt him from beyond the grave).

At the time of its creation, back in 2012, Stiefel was the current artistic director of RNZB and keen to work with former Royal Ballet principal dancer Kobborg. ‘In addition to being an exceptional dancer and actor, Johan is a gifted choreographer,’ says Stiefel of his decision to choreograph with Kobborg, ‘and Giselle is one of the great romantic ballets. So it was truly inspiring to collaborate with my good friend, and we were delighted to have the chance to present our version of a ballet we both knew so well.’ (Kelly Apter)

‘Pioneers of Performance is the result of five years of work with artists and venues all over the country,’ says Eaton-Lewis. ‘We wanted to create a day- long platform for vivid performance work for everyone, from young children up to adults. Inspiring joy and bringing people together to have a great time around four thought-provoking and compelling shows.’

Starting in the morning with Colette Sadler’s superb show for ages 4–9, We

Are The Monsters (see review, page 67), the day continues with Curious Seed’s Chalk About, aimed at ages 8+, before moving on to grown-up work, Douglas by Robbie Synge and Anna Krzystek’s Face On. Ensuring the work is accessible, both practically and artistically, for audiences

has been paramount to Eaton-Lewis.

‘The strength of all of these works is that the musical and visual elements are so vivid, there’s nothing alienating about them for kids or for people who’ve never seen this kind of work before.’ (Kelly Apter)

BALLET LES BALLETS TROCKADERO DE MONTE CARLO Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Tue 20–Wed 21 Oct

A trip to the theatre holds few guarantees, but if you’ve bought a ticket for the Trocks, it’s a pretty safe bet you’ll be laughing out loud within the first five minutes. And, by the time Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo takes its final bow, you’ll be as impressed by the dancers’ technical ability as their comic timing. Regular visitors to Edinburgh, the New York-

based company of male ballerinas is once again heading for the capital, where it will perform Act Two from Swan Lake, Merce Cunningham’s Patterns in Space, and Don Quixote among other works.

A dancer with the Trocks for 15 years, what does Raffaele Morra think the male physique can bring to those female roles?

‘Power,’ he says, ‘a lot of power. We bring the attack of the male dancer, even in roles which are really lyrical. In a romantic ballet, the female dancers are soft and whispering, well we don’t whisper we scream the steps.’

Those well versed in the Trockadero style will get the jokes straight off, which is great for the dancers but sometimes, Morra and his colleagues have to wait for the penny to drop.

‘We really feel the reaction from the audience, and that changes all the time,’ he says. ‘Sometimes the audience knows what it’s coming to see, other times it takes a little longer for them to laugh. Of course, by the end, they all love it.’ (Kelly Apter)

3 Sep–5 Nov 2015 THE LIST 87


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