Many times after making a music recording of Giselle to practice to, i’d take myself through the whole Ballet sometimes every other day and find myself bleeding with her.
After having a conversation with Masha (Maria Kochekova then still only young associate with the Royal Ballet) i decided for myself that perhaps she wasn’t mad at all but maybe she was just protecting the physical problem of her heart defect, she knew she had done too much dancing and all the unhealthy suppression of guilt and anxiousness came flooding out when she witnessed Albrecht’s betrayal with Bathilde,
Terrified this may do her harm she escapes to her intellect her head and pretends to have gone mad (which is easy for her under the circumstances!) and in doing so flees from the physical fear but the over protective mother and the surrounding culture knowing that she is meant to have some sort of problem provide a deadly barrier with their fear and ignorance & dig her an early grave. She has no choice but to give in to Death. I guess the moral of the story we are left with is that she was right to fall in love with Albrecht, she needed to escape the suffocating culture surrounding her, but unfortunate for her he was to be married, perhaps if she had suggested or had the courage to run away with him things would have been different, well the story would definitely be different anyway.
The problem is anyone in her position facing the deep humiliation and sudden focus of all eyes upon her in that moment is likely to do a similar thing, if only out of self-protection.
In the second Act the more I practised the more I found the sweet flower of her devotion, seemingly a typically Piscean docility and the White lightening of Deaths hands as she beckons him closer. The birth of parasites transformed by love into white flower petals as her body begins to let go of life and welcome forever coldness and bones. Dancing and Dancing she becomes warm her bones deny the flesh and she is burnt by the love that she has been denied, the continuous dance, the rhythm and movement of life & when it all ends, when he has fallen at her feet, her love becomes one with the sun, his hands fall away from her heart and she is lifted and forgiven (At this point the music is at a point of quiet yearning ecstasy.)
The sun drenches her soul in a golden light.
When I actually had the chance to performance a new version of Derek Deanes’ Giselle, I was given the opening Matinee performance,
One day I remember having the opportunity to watch Susan Jaffe in a dress rehearsal - her performance was so perfectly beautiful and light it was quite extraordinary, we all felt ourselves lifted somehow, another time watching Josephine Jewkes with a more earthy drama and an emotional attentiveness, after observing these two one would have expected mine to be exceptional because of those influences but recovering from a back spasm and flu brought on by nerves and bullied in rehearsals out of my own skin, it was a disaster.
Dragging half the scenery with me and bumping into everything in sight , the Ballet Mistress came back stage quite hysterical, i was dreadfully upset and the whole escapade was terribly and unhealthily suppressed.
So many bangs and bumps in that second act my Giselle was black and blue all over and most definitely in her grave!
Thankfully the next performances were rather much better but realistically it is now that I feel ready to perform Giselle, there was not enough time or space for me then and I was not mature enough to understand how to fight for her identity to take place within me.
(Written around 2007)
Click on button - two pictures taken by Photographer - Patrick Baldwin.
Blue Giselle image for programme by Photographer - Holly Warburton.
Rehearsal - Balletomane.co.uk