The Miami City Ballet’s performance of Giselle Sunday afternoon at the Kravis Center proved to be an ecstatic rendering of Adolphe Adam’s classic Romantic ballet.
Tricia Albertson gave a lovely nuanced and technically sound performance as the young peasant girl betrayed by Albrecht, a cad of an aristo, danced by Renan Cerdeiro, just prior to his marriage to a noblewoman.
Adapted and restaged by departing artistic director Edward Villella, the production took over the Kravis Center stage as if it were a 19th-century oil painting brought to life. The curtain rose on an exquisite set with a cutout forest creating a three-dimensional arbor surrounding the stage.
A great Disneyesque castle hovered in the distance and two small wooden shacks – one the home of Giselle and her mother, the other holding the evidence that would bring down Albrecht. Pergolas entwined with grapevines filled in the foreground where a bucolic landscape reminded one of the path to the Emerald City. (Both scenery and props were courtesy of American Ballet Theatre.)
The tragic two-act story of Giselle is quite simple, and in its simplicity, endearing. The young Giselle, an impressionable maid with a bad heart, falls for a man carrying out a final dalliance before entering into a proper, sanctioned marriage. Disguised as a peasant, he woos the maid, who falls helplessly in love.
When Albrecht’s deception is uncovered by the gamekeeper Hilarion, who is truly in love with Giselle, the girl goes crazy and dances her way into madness and death.
(One misstep on Albertson’s part was her pulling out her bun to illustrate her mental state. The action was too obvious and took away from an overall excellent performance.)
We are thrust into a dark and dismal forest in Giselle’s second act, which could be retitled “The Dancing Dead.” Giselle rises from the grave and saves Albrecht from the Wilis, a cadre of female spirits who have died before their wedding day hell-bent on exacting revenge on any man they encounter by forcing him to dance to his death.
Albertson was fey and original in her portrayal of Giselle. Her delicate movements, fragility and wispy leaps and hops were beautifully executed. Cerdeiro as Albrecht was a worthy partner whose leaps and bounding enthusiasm were pitch-perfect.
Callie Manning, debuting as Myrtha, queen of the Wilis, was extraordinary. She danced with such commitment — ramrod straight with gossamer arms and an ephemeral otherworldliness — commanding the band of man-hating furies.
Renato Penteado as Hilarion was a little over the top in his acting but did a serviceable job as Giselle’s lovelorn suitor. The corps de ballet danced as one in the second act, and brought energy and excitement to the scenes of revelry in the first.
Attending the performance made one anticipate Miami City Ballet’s next staging of a classic – Leo Delibes’ Coppelia — which will be at the Kravis Center from April 13-15.