photos by Patricio Melo
The Santiago Ballet, under the direction of Marcia Haydée, presents Giselle at the Teatro Municipal de Santiago from June 18th through June 21st. Set to the music of Adolphe Adams, performed live by the Santiago Philharmonic Orchestra, this romantic ballet of doomed love, deception, and tragic death pays homage to the choreography of Ivan Nagy, former Artistic Director of the Santiago Ballet. The ballet tells the tale of Giselle, a frail peasant girl, who dies of heartbreak upon discovering that her beloved, Loys, is not a simple farmer as he professes, but rather a nobleman, Duke Albrecht, and engaged to marry the Princess Bathhilda.
Heavy on drama and pomp, the first act highlights include the coquettish peasant waltzes and pas de deux performed by Montserrat López and Simón Hidalgo. Principal dancer Natalia Berríos interprets the lead role of Giselle. Played with youthful innocence, Berríos’s Giselle is a fragile, weak creature with wispy arms and downcast eyes. The waif-thin Berríos captures Giselle’s sickly character and spritelike movements. Despite Berríos’s clean, precise footwork, at times, she resembles a stiff doll, her bony arms moving in sharp, angular motions that appear mechanical and forced. Although the role of Giselle is a difficult one, requiring a significant amount of acting and dramatic expression, Berríos has momentary falters in the first act, during which her upper body crumples, her shoulders hunch forward, and her arms and hands stiffen while she dances.
While the first act is light on actual dancing, the second act is pure classical ballet, the female corps de ballet a dominant force. The second act opens on an eerie, ethereal note as the veiled Wilis, clad in white bridal gowns, drift through a dark forest. Giselle, following her death in the first act, joins the Wilis, the spirits of jilted women seeking vengeance on the men who have betrayed them. The ghostly Wilis appear to float rather than dance, their feathery arms waving in sync, as fog is projected onto the stage to create an ominous night setting. The use of special effects, such as fog, a moving stage, and wires suspending dancers in the air, adds to the magical aura of the second act. The queen of the Wilis, Myrtha, is danced by Camila Aranda, a commanding presence on the stage. With her effortless arabesques, soundless grand jetes, and delicate, rounded arms, she is the epitome of the light, graceful dancer. She exudes confidence and an appropriately cool arrogance with her poised upper body, and erect head and neck.
Giselle is a ballet that highlights the female corps and its uniform precision; in fact, the female corps, and its masterful portrayal of the Wilis, carries the second act. The few male roles in the ballet are not particularly dancing-intensive, with the exception being the character of Albrecht. Luis Ortigoza, who dances the role of Albrecht, delights with his athleticism and high leaps. A lead dancer with the Santiago Ballet since 1988, Ortigoza plays a likeable, yet convincing Albrecht.
The Santiago Ballet’s Giselle is a beautiful production with stellar performances by Camila Aranda and Luis Ortigoza in particular. Careful not to rely on the over-the-top special effects typical of many romantic ballets, this staging of Giselle firmly places its emphasis on clear, lucid dancing, and classical ballet fans will not be disappointed.
Giselle is at the Teatro Municipal de Santiago (Agustinas 794) from Wednesday, June 18th through Saturday, June 21st (7 p.m.). Prices start at $3.000 CLP. Additional information can be found on the Teatro Municipal de Santiago’s website: municipal.cl.
The cast, alternating by night, is as follows:
Giselle: Natalia Berríos / Maite Ramirez
Albrecht: Luis Ortigoza / Rodrigo Guzmán
Myrtha: Camila Aranda
Hilarion: José Manuel Ghiso
Pas Paysan: Montserrat López and Simón Hidalgo / Katherine Rodríguez and Esdras Hernández
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