THU 11 - SUN 21 JAN 2024
Alina Cojocaru and Isaac Hernandez in Giselle Photo: Laurent Liotardo
Act I: a pleasant valley in Germany
It is the vintage festival, when the villagers gather to drink the new wine. Today, the celebration will be at the cottage of Giselle, a beautiful and innocent peasant girl.
Giselle has fallen in love with Albrecht, Duke of Silesia, who, disguised as a peasant, courts her. Hilarion, a gamekeeper who is in love with Giselle, suspects the true identity of his rival, and soon finds out that Albrecht is not the peasant he claims to be.
Rina Kanehara and Cesar Corrales Photo: Laurent Liotardo
Villagers return from the fields to celebrate the grape harvest and join in a dance with Giselle and Albrecht. Giselle’s Mother, Berthe, is worried that Giselle’s passion for dancing may be the death of her delicate daughter, who will then fall under the spell of the Wilis, vengeful spirits of virgin-brides who have been abandoned before their wedding night.
Giselle is amused at her mother’s concern, and continues dancing with her friends, until she is finally crowned Queen of the Vine.
The Prince of Courland and his hunting party stop at the village to taste the wine. One of this party, the Prince’s daughter, Bathilde, is engaged to Duke Albrecht. Hilarion takes this opportunity to reveal the truth about Albrecht’s identity.
Giselle, destroyed by grief at Albrecht’s duplicity, loses her mind and dies.
Act II: a forest on the banks of a lake
This is the supernatural world of the Wilis. Attired in their bridal dresses, they dance in the moonlight and lure young men to dance until they fall dead of exhaustion.
Separately, Hilarion and Albrecht visit Giselle’s grave, mourning her tragic death. Hilarion is caught by the vengeful spirits and Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis, condemns him to dance until he dies. Albrecht faces a similar fate, but Giselle’s love and forgiveness protect him through the night.
The Queen of the Wilis tries to get Albrecht away from the cross on Giselle’s grave which is helping to protect him, but her magic Myrtle branch breaks. She makes a desperate effort to maintain her control by commanding the Wilis to attack the cross, but its power is too great.
She commands Giselle to come away from the cross, knowing Albrecht will follow her. However, as dawn breaks over the forest Queen Myrtha loses her power and the Wilis are forced back into their graves.
After a final farewell, Giselle and Albrecht are parted forever.
Alina Cojocaru and Isaac Hernandez Photo: Laurent Liotardo
BALANCHINE / MILLER / DAWSON
Sadler's Wells, London
THU 21 - SAT 30 SEP 2023
Three works showcasing the vast possibilities of ballet
The programme opens with the dazzling exuberance of Theme and Variations, a virtuosic showstopper from George Balanchine. Featuring 13 couples dancing to Tchaikovsky, this is classical ballet that is grandiose, yet light on its feet. Intricate choreography, technical bravura and exquisite musicality all lead to a triumphant finale that will leave you exhilarated.
Known for her visceral and imaginative movement style, Andrea Miller creates a new work to Stravinsky’s revolutionary score, Les Noces. The piece unfolds against artwork conceived by acclaimed artist Phyllida Barlow, with dancers joined on stage by the Opera Holland Park Chorus. Marking 100 years since the work’s premiere, Miller’s Les Noces examines the power of rituals and imagines the aftermath of Stravinsky’s other iconic piece, The Rite of Spring. What comes after the sacrifice?
Finally, British choreographer David Dawson takes us on a deeply moving journey with Four Last Songs. Richard Strauss’s song cycle is a musical masterpiece, often described as a poignant farewell to life. Underneath a glimpse of the heavens above, 12 dancers unite in Dawson’s poetic style to the music’s lush, lyrical melodies, ushering in a feeling of serenity, eternity and the sublime.
A celebration of classical, contemporary and neo-classical dance make this a programme not to be missed.
All of the music will be performed live by English National Ballet Philharmonic, with soprano Madeleine Pierard singing Strauss’s Four Last Songs.
Tickets go on sale to Great Friends on Wednesday 17 May; Friends on Friday 19 May and the general public on Monday 22 May. Become a Great Friend or Friend to enjoy priority booking and a discount on tickets.
Main Image: Emma Hawes and Aitor Arrieta. Photo © Jason Bell. Creative Direction: Charlotte Wilkinson Studio
Erina Takahashi in Cinerella Photo: Laurent Liotardo
Emily Suzuki & Erik Woolhouse in Swan Lake : photo Laurent Liotardo
We are deeply saddened by the news that our President and former Artistic Director, Dame Beryl Grey has passed away at the age of 95. A dedicated ambassador for the Company, she will be remembered for her significant legacy and immeasurable contribution to the artform.
Dame Beryl Grey as Odette and John Field as Prince Siegfried in Le Lac des cygnes 1950. Photograph by Roger Wood.
Wed 10 - Sat 13 May, 2023:Teatro Real, Madrid
An epic journey of love and courage inspired by the spirit of Florence Nightingale
Taking inspiration from the ground-breaking spirit of Florence Nightingale and the women who supported the war effort in Crimea, Tamara Rojo, Artistic Director of English National Ballet, creates a new version of the classic story ballet, Raymonda.
England, 1854. Raymonda runs away from her comfortable life to become a nurse in the Crimean War. There, she becomes engaged to a soldier, John, but soon develops feelings for his friend Abdur, a leader of the Ottoman army. As turmoil grows around and inside her, who will she give her heart to?
Starring a huge cast of dancers and a full orchestra, this lavish adaptation keeps the best of the 19th-century original – its glorious and sensuous score by Alexander Glazunov and the classical choreography of ballet genius Marius Petipa – and updates it with a dramatic new story.
Introducing a heroine in command of her own destiny, and celebrating the courage of nurses and women who fought for emancipation, this beautiful production is guaranteed to thrill, move and inspire.
The original Raymonda is very rarely performed in the UK, where no dance company performs it in its entirety. This acclaimed version marks Tamara Rojo’s debut in directing and choreographing, building on her illustrious career as dancer and artistic director.