Akram Khan’s Giselle

I don’t go to the ballet.  I haven’t been to a dance show for years, and that wasn’t ballet, it was DV8 (Strange Fish in 1992, and very wonderful it was too) so a long way from Swan Lake.  But I wandered

across Akram Khan’s Giselle on BBC4 one evening earlier this year, and it was the music that caught my attention.  

I don’t have some deep seated thing about dance, I suppose it was always a lower priority than the

music.  And the music from Giselle is by Vincenzo Lamagna, and it’s very, very good. The Observer

called it “ominous, gothic” and it’s certainly those.  I like being in a room with live, real instruments, there’s a snap to it that you don’t get from a recording, even one played very loud. Vincenzo has adapted the original music by Adolphe Adam, but “adapted” in this case means completely reimagined.  Using

themes and motifs from Adam’s score, it’s often very beautiful, often disconcerting, and always


I don’t know much about modern ballet or choreography, but I can say that the dancing was

remarkable.  The Wilis (the ghosts of betrayed maidens), and particularly Myrtha, the Queen of the

Wilis float around the set like malevolent spirits, which is exactly what they’re meant to do.  The duets between Giselle and Albrecht, and Giselle and Hilarion also stood out. But the whole thing moves

along without stopping and there isn’t really a moment when you feel the pace has dropped.

There’s a trailer on Youtube that’ll give you a taste: https://youtu.be/EHPT8IglL0s 

If you can get tickets, you should go, even if you’re not familiar with ballet or Giselle.  It’s a wonderful

thing! Just one small thing – the DVD of the filmed ballet is £25. Ah, I remember why I don’t go to the

ballet!  Still a thing for rich kids…

Akram Khan’s Giselle is on now at Sadlers Wells 


Vincenzo Lamagna is at https://www.vincenzolamagna.com

You can find DV8 and Strange Fish at


you can sign up for my regular gibberish here

#akramkhan #vincenzolamanga #sadlerswells

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