American Ballet Theatre Review: Giselle February 11, 2020 | Kennedy Center – Washington, D.C.
The standing ovation at the end of America Ballet Theatre’s Giselle at The Kennedy Center last night does not do the performance justice. The combination of ingredients – exquisite dancing, expert staging, elegant costume and sets – is a recipe that Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie has mastered.
Granted, he has some of the world’s best talent at his fingertips, but that in itself does not guarantee success. McKenzie’s staging of Giselle, the epitome of romantic classical ballet, is based on the original choreography by Jean Coralli, Jules Perrot, and Marius Petipa. The nuances of gesture and choreographic expression though are what make this particular production rise above the average and elevate it to the level by which America’s National Ballet Company® is revered for.
Anna Anni’s costumes so cohesively compliment Gianna Quaranta’s scenery; Giselle’s blue and Bathilde’s scarlet dresses appropriately standing out amongst an otherwise autumnal-hued first act, and the second act Wilis in their white tutus creating the desired ethereal effect in the somber forest.
Hee Seo was born to be Giselle. She has a playful youthfulness in Act I and a sweet tranquility in Act II, both underscored by just how simply breathtaking she is. She expertly converses with face, hands, and feet, the latter expertly supple while supporting her in weightless jumps and speedy batterie.
Cory Stearns is her perfect Albrecht; their musicality is of one, their epaulment never failing to harmonize, their partnering provoking audible gasps from the audience. He is wonderfully charming in the first act, but it is later by his love’s grave that he really has a chance to shine. His dancing is all together so elegant, gravity-defying, and expressive.
From the moment she enters, crossing the stage with bourrées that must be the envy of every ballerina around the globe, Devon Teuscher claims her territory as the Queen of the Wilis. Her portrayal of the leader of them all fuses technical prowess, corporeal grace, and intellectual astuteness. She soars through the air with such power while never losing sight of facial serenity and strong femininity.
Following suit, the Wilis are incredibly synchronized both in movement and poise. It is clear that the company values the beauty and importance of a corps de ballet; the ladies seem so well-rehearsed and better yet, invested in the importance of their presence.
American Ballet Theatre will be performing Giselle at The Kennedy Center February 16, 2020. Because each performance features a different cast of principal dancers, this impeccable one will not be gracing the stage again this run. But if they are any representation of what is to come, audiences will be not be disappointed.
Cherilyn's lifelong passion for ballet has opened the door to the next chapter of her journey. Her strong foundation includes training at the School of American Ballet, being a featured dancer with Hartford Ballet and Carolina Ballet, and being co-director/owner of City Ballet Raleigh. She was granted the Affiliate Teacher Award after successfully completing the ABT National Training Curriculum®. A professional career in the industry along with extensive global travel provide her with a unique set of experiences to draw upon as a journalist and audience member. Cherilyn is excited to be sharing her insight about ballet around the world.