The Bolshoi in Cinema—Giselle

By Norm Robins

This season the Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema is continuing its classics including Giselle, a standard beloved over the ages. Giselle, a beautiful peasant girl from the Rhineland, is in love with Loys, another peasant. She dances joyously and innocently. Her mother reminds her of the Slavic legend of the Wilis, spirits of jilted women who died before their wedding day. Giselle does not take her seriously.

Wilis cannot rest in peace. Their love of dancing makes them get up from their graves every night and dance until daybreak. They will forcibly dance with any young man who happens on their graveyard until he dies of exhaustion.

But Loys is not indeed a peasant, and his intentions are not honorable. He is simply a flirt. He is merely playing with Giselle. A gamekeeper is in love with Giselle, and he is furiously jealous of Albrecht. It is the gamekeeper who reveals Loys’ true identity to her. Furious, Albrecht tries to kill the gamekeeper, but Giselle stops him.

A group of hunters appear onstage after their hunt looking for rest. The group includes the Duke of Courland and his daughter Bathilde who is engaged to be married to Albrecht. Bathilde takes a liking to Giselle. Bathilde tells Giselle she is engaged to be married. Giselle says so is she. When Albrecht comes on stage Bathilde identifies him as her fiancé. Giselle thereupon goes mad and dies of heartbreak.

Repentent, Albrecht later on comes to pray at Giselle’s grave. He is set on by Wilis including Giselle who dances around him. The Wilis have targeted him for death. He tries to dance with Giselle, but she rebuffs him. Instead, she saves him by taking him to safe ground. By saving Albrecht she saves herself from becoming a Wili. She wishes Albrecht well in his marriage to Bathilde. Then she vanishes. The gamekeeper isn’t so lucky as Albrecht. The wilis dance him to death.

Giselle will be shown at the Riverside 12 and Summit Sierra Cinemas on Sunday, January 26, 2010. Curtain time is 12:55 PM. Run time is 2 hours 25 minutes.

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