The Trock Life: Alberto Pretto on Pointe Shoes, Giselle and Channeling Carla Fracci

Alberto Pretto, as Esmeralda, with Matthew Poppe

Giselle is a dream role for most any dancer, and now, Alberto Pretto can count himself as one of the few men to perform it. This month, he made his debut in Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo’s Giselle (Act II). Pointe spoke with Pretto (aka Nina Immobilashvili) about the all-male company’s comic twist on the classic.  More »

#TBT: Monica Mason as Myrta in Giselle

Dame Monica Mason, The Royal Ballet’s former artistic director, has likely stood before a corps of white-tutu−clad dancers thousands of times. In this Giselle clip from a Bavarian State Ballet performance filmed in 1979, she leads the wilis not as their director, but as their queen. Though Mason is a natural Myrta, she offsets herMore »

Refining the Romantic at Houston Ballet

With his new production of Giselle, Houston Ballet artistic director Stanton Welch continues his charge through history, updating the classical warhorses for modern audiences. He has already completed versions of Paquita, La Bayadère and, most recently, 2015’s Romeo and Juliet, which he restructured to closely follow the play. Giselle, which premiered June 9, is deeplyMore »

#TBT Virginia Johnson in Creole Giselle (1987)

If you’ve ever visited a Louisiana bayou at night, with the thick fog and eerie swamp waters, the idea of Wilis floating through the reeds might not surprise you. Dance Theatre of Harlem’s Creole Giselle transplants the Romantic era ballet from Europe to the antebellum South. In this clip from a 1987 film, Virginia Johnson—formerMore »

#TBT: Alicia Alonso in Giselle (1958)

During the Cold War, Alicia Alonso was one of the first Western dancers to be invited to perform in the Soviet Union—where she danced Giselle, her signature role, in this 1958 clip. It’s not just her precise, sprightly footwork or her fluid, emotive arms that make her portrayal of Giselle so enchanting. Nor is it merely her acting, which successfully evokes a girl vacillating between reticence one moment and readiness the next in her lover’s company. Every ballerina must have these qualities, but Alonso has something more. Take the moment in Giselle’s variation after the hops on pointe.

#TBT: American Ballet Theatre performs Giselle in 1977 with Natalia Makarova

Almost every professional dancer has paid her dues in the corps de ballet. It can be the most rigorous years of a dancer’s life, requiring strength and endurance to function as the backbone of the company. In this video of American Ballet Theatre’s Giselle, we experience one of the most difficult moments in a corps dancer’s repertoire. The cast sets the scene for Act II, clouding the stage with ominous white tutus and broken hearts.

#TBT Video: Gelsey Kirkland in “Giselle”

Gelsey Kirkland caused quite a stir when she left New York City Ballet in 1974. Then a rising star in Balanchine’s company, she joined American Ballet Theatre at Mikhail Baryshnikov’s behest, and became one of the Russian star’s most frequent partners. Baryshnikov’s high-wattage performances never outshone Kirkland, however. With her exquisite control, meticulous attention to detail, and heart-stopping vulnerability, she became a legend in her own right.

#TBT Video: Nina Ananiashvili in “Giselle”

Georgian dancer Nina Ananiashvili was a star of the Bolshoi and, later, American Ballet Theatre. She may be blessed with endless arms and legs, but it’s her warm generosity that makes her so endearing; you always want to root for her. Today, Ananiashvili is artistic director of the State Ballet of Georgia. She’s about to celebrate her 51st birthday—and she’s still dancing.

Here’s a video of Ananiashvili performing Giselle’s Act I solo with the Bolshoi. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!