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Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
Performance Reviews
American Ballet Theater
Lincoln Center
American Ballet Theatre

America Ballet Theatre: Giselle 2006 with Julio Bocca

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 16, 2006
Lincoln Center
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc.
140 West 65th Street
New York, NY 10023

Featured Dance Company:

American Ballet Theatre
American Ballet Theatre (office)
890 Broadway
New York, NY 10003

About the Author:

America Ballet Theatre: Giselle 2006 with Julio Bocca

American Ballet Theatre

Metropolitan Opera House

Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Rachel S. Moore, Executive Director
Victor Barbee, Associate Artistic Director
Ballet Masters:
Susan Jones, Irina Kolpakova,
Georgina Parkinson, Kirk Peterson

Kelly Ryan, Director of Press and Public Relations
Susan Morgan, Press Associate

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 12, 2006 and June 16, 2006

(See Reviews of American Ballet Theatre.)
(See July 11, 2005 and July 14, 2005 Review.)

Giselle (1841, Paris, 1987, Current Production, ABT): Choreography after Jean Coralli, Jules Perrot, and Marius Petipa, Libretto by Theophile Gautier, on a theme by Heinrich Heine, Orchestrated by John Lanchbery, Music by Adolphe Adam, Scenery by Gianni Quaranta, Costumes by Anna Anni, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton. Set near the Rhine, Hilarion, a hunter in love with villager, Giselle, leaves wild game and flowers on her doorstep. Count Albrecht, disguised as Loys, a peasant, swears love to Giselle and uses a "he loves me, he loves me not" daisy to prove his intentions. Loys and Hilarion wish to duel, but the villagers return, and Giselle risks her weak heart to dance for Bathilde, the prince's daughter, part of a hunting party.

Bathilde gives Giselle her golden necklace, but havoc breaks loose when Giselle discovers that Loys is an imposter, affianced to Bathilde. Giselle dances herself to death of a broken heart and becomes a Wili, a maiden whose fiancée failed to marry her prior to her death. Wili Queen Myrta helps the Wilis dance and entrap men between dusk and dawn, and Hilarion meets a cruel fate. However, Albrecht is saved by Giselle, who dances with him until 4 AM, when the clock strikes, and the Wilis lose power. Giselle returns to her grave, with many calla lilies strewn about. (Program Notes).

June 12, 2006: Conductor: David LaMarche, Performed by Xiomara Reyes as Giselle, Julio Bocca as Count Albrecht, Gennadi Saveliev as Hilarion, the village huntsman, Carlos Lopez as Wilfred, the squire, Susan Jones as Berthe, Giselle's mother, Victor Barbee as The Prince of Courland, Jennifer Alexander as Bathilde, the prince's daughter, Erica Cornejo and Herman Cornejo as Peasant Pas de Deux, Gillian Murphy as Myrta, Stella Abrera as Moyna, Veronica Part as Zulma, and the Company as Court Ladies and Gentlemen, Giselle's Friends, Villagers, and The Wilis.

June 16, 2006: Conductor: David LaMarche, Performed by Xiomara Reyes as Giselle, Julio Bocca as Count Albrecht, Gennadi Saveliev as Hilarion, the village huntsman, Carlos Lopez as Wilfred, the squire, Susan Jones as Berthe, Giselle's mother, Victor Barbee as The Prince of Courland, Jennifer Alexander as Bathilde, the prince's daughter, Maria Riccetto and Sascha Radetsky as Peasant Pas de Deux, Gillian Murphy as Myrta, Anna Liceica as Moyna, Kristi Boone as Zulma, and the Company as Court Ladies and Gentlemen, Giselle's Friends, Villagers, and The Wilis.

The countdown had begun for Julio Bocca's farewell performances, and these were two of his final four. I attended both with almost identical casts. This ballet has been reviewed multiple times in this magazine, and the story is renowned. In fact, an opera in concert version, Le Villi, by Puccini, was recently reviewed at Carnegie Hall. The Adolphe Adam score for Giselle ("the oldest continually performed ballet"), which is presented here in its sixth production, the earliest version debuting in Paris, 1841, is still meandering in my mind. The music is haunting and lyrical, to the literal meaning of lyric. That is, there is special sound (cello) for Albrecht's remorseful entrances and foreboding music for Hilarion's anger. Of course, the melody of the daisy scene (loves me, loves me not), which is oft repeated in mime, is fixed throughout Giselle's sorrowful and soulful dance.

Xiomara Reyes is an ingénue extraordinaire, and, as the naïve peasant, she is lithe and blissful, dancing to charm the visiting Bathilde. When she discovers Albrecht's betrayal, as her mother (a remarkably theatrical Susan Jones) lets down her hair, Ms. Reyes changes her facial and physical demeanor to crazed and taut. She hunches over the sword, as she circles it in madness, almost driving it into herself, before Hilarion grabs it. Ms. Reyes, later, as the Wili, Giselle, is so ghostlike and surreal that she almost seems painted in air, like a white firefly. Her dance is exquisite, flawless, virtuosic. The chemistry between the Cuban Ms. Reyes and the Argentinean Mr. Bocca is palpable.

Now, to Julio Bocca, near the end of his twenty-years with ABT, a premier danseur for the ballet archives, next to no one, who might be compared to Nureyev (who did not retire until his fifties), in dynamism and charisma, who, at 39 years has decided to retire, but not from his Ballet Argentino or BoccaTango. On the Friday evening of this ballet, I met Julio at the Stage Door with a presentation bouquet. This is a warm, genuine performer, who relishes his fans. As Albrecht, he was so in peak form, that I could not believe he was retiring so soon. His elevation, rapid footwork, en air, multiple spins, muscularity in the lifts, and non-stop dance, as he is encircled by Myrta and the Wilis, were bravura at all levels. Mr. Bocca has grown in these decades in dramatic technique and partnered connection, and I hope he finds a way to continually showcase this talent. At all times, Mr. Bocca is magnetizing and mesmerizing; even, when he stands stage corner left, gazing at a square of peasant dances or a forest of transparent Wilis.

On June 12, the Peasant Pas de Deux was more enticing with the sister-brother Cornejos, and the evening's Argentinean infusion was hot. Both Erica Cornejo and Herman Cornejo are engaging, aerobic dancers, with dramatic technique. Herman Cornejo is stepping into Mr. Bocca's shoes, with his mid-stage leaps and backward spins. His solos brought down the house. On June 16, Maria Riccetto and Sascha Radetsky were more subdued and internalized. Mr. Radetsky seems better suited in serious character roles. Gennadi Saveliev, as Hilarion on both nights, was perfectly suited for the role, and he exuded passion, jealousy, loss, remorse, and, finally, vulnerability, as the Wilis forced him to leap off the forest edge. Mr. Saveliev exudes wildness in these tormented roles.

Gillian Murphy was Myrta, Wili queen, on both nights, and she splendidly led her large ensemble of Wilis in their rapid exits and entrances in synchronized choreography. I spoke with her briefly at the stage door and commented on a dramatic glance she gave the audience, while Giselle was winning the battle against time to save Albrecht, before the clock struck dawn. Ms. Murphy has become more fluid and porcelain these past couple of years, and Myrta is one of her finest roles. She darts about with buoyancy and beauty. Carlos Lopez was a persuasive Wilfred on both nights, and Jennifer Alexander was a daunting, devilish woman in red, as Bathilde. When she walked offstage in vengeance, at Albrecht's duplicity, she breathed fire. Victor Barbee was, as always, Princely and in character, with just the right hand and facial gestures.

Susan Jones was Berthe on both nights, warm, nurturing, and iconic as the fearful, then grieving mother. Stella Abrera and Veronica Part, as Moyna and Zulma, had a slight edge on charisma over Anna Liceica and Kristi Boone, while all four dancers created an air of possession and presence. The corps of Wilis was magnetic, and the hypnotic, repetitive dance, in the dimly lit forest, is always a highpoint. The choreography of dancers bent on one leg with the ethereal white tutus in uniform multitude, is a vision for dreams, as they actually dance through lines, remaining on one leg, in a hopping step. This is perfection. In such choreography, one realizes the extreme talent of each corps dancer, as each shape must be equal throughout the entire dance. Their heads are down, and their backs and legs are equally formed. These same dancers entertained in the earlier act as jovial peasants with carts of fruit and floral hoops.

David LaMarche conducted on both evenings, and he needed to time the music for the vocal accolades, which were extreme for Mr. Bocca. Adam's music was mystical and magical, thanks to Mr. LaMarche and his fine ABT orchestra. Gianni Quaranta's forest scene drew us in, with Jennifer Tipton's nuanced lighting. Anna Anni's milky white tutus for the Wilis, as well as the princely capes and Bathilde's long, billowing satin dress, were outstanding. As the ballet came to a close on Friday night, and Giselle and the Wilis returned to their graves, at the strike of dawn, Julio Bocca knelt down at Giselle's cross, removed his blue ballet slippers, and walked offstage at right rear. The usual exit is toward the audience. This was his final Giselle, and many of us were moved to tears. The many curtain calls were thundering. Kudos to Adolphe Adam, kudos to Xiomara Reyes, and, especially, kudos to Julio Bocca.

Xiomara Reyes and Julio Bocca in Giselle
Photo courtesy of Gene Schiavone

Julio Bocca Signs for a Fan
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Julio Bocca with My Matles Floral Presentation
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Xiomara Reyes Signs for a Fan
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Julio Signs for Marianne Stegeland
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

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