Described as “two stellar forces in world ballet “ Ethan Stiefel and Johan Kobborg’s brand new production of the TelstraClear Season of Giselle for the Royal New Zealand Ballet, which had its world premiere in Wellington on 7 November, has received rave reviews from local and international critics. Audience members have been moved to tears with many describing it as the best Giselle they’ve ever seen!
The acclaimed production now heads south to Christchurch, Invercargill and Dunedin followed by Auckland, Rotorua, and Napier before closing in Palmerston North on 12 December.
In addition to the much loved dancers of the RNZB, this staging of Giselle features not one but two world renowned dancers – prima ballerina Gillian Murph, and acclaimed Kiwi male dancer Andrew Bowman who was a principal dancer with the Royal Danish Ballet for 15 years. Gillian Murphy dances her inaugural Giselle partnered by Qi Huan, while Andrew Bowman has returned home for his first role with the RNZB since being a child extra, before training and dancing overseas. He is partnered by company dancer Antonia Hewitt in her debut as Giselle.
Here’s what the critics have been saying about the production:
“What this creative and glorious revisiting has achieved is enrichment and revitalization of everything the world holds dear and, at the same time, a wonderful showcase for the company...” Raewyn Whyte for DanceTabs UK dance website.
“The dancing is demanding throughout the work’s 110 minutes, and the company has never looked better – technically poised and polished, lyrically perfect and expressively convincing.” Raewyn Whyte for DanceTabs UK dance website.
“The stage is throbbing with talented dancers, among them three sets of soloists for this short season. I have seen them all in rehearsal. Pitch perfect. Lucky us” Jennifer Shennan, Dominion Post.
“Extraordinary Giselle from @kobborg & Ethan Stiefel @nzballet. Exceptionally intelligent story-telling; dance to match. V. special night “ Deborah Jones , via Twitter. (Dance reviewer for The Australian)
“I just loved it! To see a classical ballet that had really been taken apart and put back together again ... every single one of those arabesques and every movement ... had a reason and it showed.” Deirdre Tarrant, Radio New Zealand Concert FM.
“One of the finest Giselles I have ever seen ... “A triumph for the company in every way. Production, choreography, direction and of course performances.” Ann Hunt, Radio New Zealand Arts on Sunday.
About Gillian Murphy and Qi Huan:
“You would never think it was her debut performance in that role. She has a superb technique. Coupled with this incredibly powerful control and lightness. As well as her technical gifts, which are many, she is a very fine actor. She IS Giselle.” Ann Hunt, Radio New Zealand Arts on Sunday.
“Gillian Murphy dances her inaugural Giselle with breathtaking control and superbly phrased delivery... She may have the reputation of being a fast dancer but believe me, she does slow too.” Jennifer Shennan, Dominion Post.
Qi Huan as Albrecht fair explodes with the thrill of partnering her, and dances better than he ever has. Such expressive play, such heroic heights, such strong partnering...” Jennifer Shennan, Dominion Post.
About Andrew Bowman and Antonia Hewitt:
“His Albrecht to Antonia Hewitt’s Giselle was a perfect pairing, and his yearning, aching love and then remorse beautifully contained within his classical bearing. No histrionics. Just the facts.” Jennifer Shennan
“In the dance to death (or dawn), his soaring leaps and sure partnering are most impressive...” Raewyn Whyte.
“2nd viewing of Stiefel/Kobborg @nzballet #Giselle last night confirms its wonders, w. bonus of Antonia Hewitt's glorious Giselle. Unmissable.” Deborah Jones , via Twitter. (Dance reviewer for The Australian).
Wonderfully passionate, Giselle is a story of how the power of forgiveness and redemption can overcome the anguish of love and betrayal. First staged in Paris in 1841, Giselle is one of the oldest surviving ballets still in the international repertory.
The music by Adolphe Adam (1803-1856) is one of the first full-length ballet scores ever to be composed. The score, performed live by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra in Auckland and the Southern Sinfonia in Dunedin, will be conducted by leading British conductor Michael Lloyd.