English National Ballet brings a haunting love story to local stage

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The English National Ballet will be performing in Belfast for the first time when it stages the beautiful bittersweet love story Giselle at the Grand Opera House next week.

The company, winner of Outstanding Company at the National Dance Awards 2016 and the 2017 Olivier Award for Outstanding achievement in dance, will take to the stage for the opening night on Wednesday June 21 and the production will run until Saturday June 24.

The English National Ballet are enthusiastic about bringing ballet to the wider community and encouraging people who may never have experienced ballet before to dip their toe in the water.

According to the company’s artistic director and lead principal dancer, Tamara Rojo, Giselle is the perfect production for newcomers to the world of ballet, with an easy to follow love story at the heart of the show.

Moving from idyllic village life to a moonlit world full of mystery and menace, Mary Skeaping’s classic production of Giselle features some of ballet’s most dramatic scenes and, accompanied by Adolphe Adam’s famous score, performed live by English National Ballet Philharmonic, all played out in the sumptuous surrounds of the Grand Opera House.

Giselle is a haunting tale of innocence, betrayal and the redemptive power of love. A young peasant girl falls in love with a handsome Duke, Albrecht, who hides his nobility and his engagement to another. When this deception is revealed, Giselle is driven to madness and dies of a broken heart - only to be greeted by the vengeful spirits of abandoned brides who are ready to welcome Giselle into their fold, and force men to dance to their death. Will Giselle’s love protect the Albrecht from his fate?

Award-winning, Russian born Jurgita Dronina will be taking on the title role as Giselle, with lead principal dancer Isaac Hernández, who joined the company in 2015, as Albrecht.

Tamara Rojo, who has performed in Belfast with the Scottish Ballet when they staged Romeo and Juliet, said everyone was delighted to be bringing Giselle to Northern Ireland.

“At the heart of what we do is bringing ballet to the widest possible audience,” she explained.

“We have performed all around the UK but this will be the first time in Belfast for the English National Ballet. We have had a whole journey with Giselle. We created a contemporary version first which helped the company to question the tradition and question the story. Then we went back to the classical version.”

The company will be staging the classical version of Giselle when they come to Belfast and it proved to be a huge success when it was performed at the London Coliseum. “Audiences in London had a chance to see both versions,” continued Tamara. “It had a great impact on the artists themselves and how they approach the traditional version.”

The company will be ending their time with Giselle in Belfast and although they are sad to say goodbye to the beloved production, they are also looking forward to the next chapter in the life of the company when they move to their new building in London.

“It has been three years thinking about Giselle,” explained Tamara. “It has been a good time and coming to Belfast will be a good way to finish it in a new place. Giselle is a love story and you don’t need to know anything about ballet to enjoy it. It was created first as a script and then the music and choreography were added. It is completely led by the story so even if you ahev never been to the ballet before, this is the one to start with.”

Giselle runs at the Grand Opera House Belfast from Wednesday June 21 until Saturday June 24 at 7.30pm, with matinees on Thursday at 2pm and Saturday at 2.30pm. For further information log onto www.goh.co.uk.