Giselle : Great Russian Ballet, Not so Great

Giselle. Grand Russian Ballet Cocktail Party. Photo Jennifer Guillet. Giselle. Grand Russian Ballet Cocktail Party. Photo Jennifer Guillet.

A few days ago, The Great Russian Ballet stopped in Montreal to present the premiere of Giselle, part of their tour “Romantika”. Under the sign of romance and love, they opened the tour in our city on Valentine’s Day, promising an adventure for lovers and for ballet enthusiasts.

At the cocktail party held before the show they explained to us that two ballets will be performed during the tour of Canada: Giselle, and Romeo and Juliet. They called the Tour Romantika: Romantic/Romance plus Ka to honor beautiful Russia. So romance and foreigners, ballet and love. Not too bad of a combo right? Well I thought so too. So I went to see the show after the cocktail with my colleague and former ballet dancer K.J. I like to do things properly and her insight is always helpful, but this time it was not too difficult to make up my own mind on the show.

Giselle. Grand Ballet Cocktail Party. Photo Jennifer Guillet.

Giselle. Grand Russian Ballet Cocktail Party. Photo Jennifer Guillet.

Unfortunately the Great Russian Ballet is not so great. We were promised a ballerina so great that, “She is regarded as one of the best ballet dancers in the world, dazzling audiences with her classical style and perfect execution.” Well, let me say she did not dazzle me at all. I might not be a dancer or ballerina, but I know what a good dancer is. I have seen good dancers, and one time I even saw a star ballerina who is actually one of the best in the world: Tamara Rojo. Check out her dancing, and it will set the bar for what to expect and what not to expect. Believe me, it was far from what I saw Natalia Balan do. I cannot speak to the technical part, but fortunately my colleague could: her verdict? Not that good.

Giselle. Grand Russian Ballet Cocktail Party. Photo Jennifer Guillet.

Giselle. Grand Russian Ballet Cocktail Party. Photo Jennifer Guillet.

We were also asked to, “Allow yourself to be energized by internationally acclaimed and award-winning dancers chosen from Russia and the world.” Well I was not highly energized, and I have a doubt concerning the award-wining part. I am very sorry to say none of the dancers made an impression on me.

Another low point was the presentation of the ballet itself. The décor was very poor, seemed kind of fake, not a grand décor for an allegedly great ballet. And unfortunately a ballet without a live orchestra is not so grand, especially if the soundtrack is bad. And it was not good. (This I can speak to as a singer: I know).

The only thing that saved the slow pace of the ballet, the not-so-graceful style of its dancers and the lack of involvement in the artistic direction were the costumes. They were very nice costumes. Not great. But nice.

Giselle. Grand Ballet Cocktail Party. Photo Jennifer Guillet.

Photo Jennifer Guillet.

So all in all, I had an okay time. Not great, not even good, but ok. I hope that Romeo and Juliet will offer to viewers more excitement than Giselle, but my advice to you is too think twice before buying a ticket.

Giselle was performed in Montreal on February 14.

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