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Ballet BC's much anticipated Giselle

Celebrating Jose Navas' brilliance, Ballet BC reimagines a new Giselle. Image of Alexis Fletcher.Photo by Michael Slobodian.

Giselle, the legendary ballet told from a contemporary point-of-view by Ballet BC ‘s Resident Choreographer José Navas, will be the swan song of his three year residency.

At the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, April 25-27, 2013 for three evening performances at 8 pm,  Navas will assuredly create something compellingly beautiful.



“It is the tale of love, betrayal and the supernatural," explained Navas in a break from rehearsal. Using the original music by Adolphe Adam and the narrative line written by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges and Theophile Gautier – the librettist took his inspiration from a poem by Heinrich Heine- Navas which maintained the same structure. “I wanted to honour the story and the original score.”

The tale of the beautiful peasant girl Giselle who falls in love with the Duke Albrecht of Silesia, a young nobleman engaged to someone else, thus causing Giselle to die of a broken heart, includes the most wonderful corps de ballet. Called Wilis, they are the ghosts of young women spurned at the altar, usually costumed in diaphanous veils and moving ethereally in the classic Romantic ballet patterns.

However, Navas' Wilis are somewhat unusual.

“My Wilis are both men and women with both wearing white transparent dresses, white body paint and masks. I am creating a Greek chorus," explained Navas. “I decided to not get stuck in secondary characters so there are the three main characters, the Greek chorus and the pictorial background. “

The all-Canadian design team for this production of Giselle includes visual components by well-known Quebec graphic artist and illustrator Lino, costumes by Vancouver-based Linda Chow and lighting design by Montreal-based Marc Parent. 

Known for the courage to create a sense of minimalism that clarifies the artistic architecture of the movement, his idea right from the beginning was to “create a blueprint where the naked choreography can sometimes live in silence.”

This is not to say that there isn't a phenominal sense of physical muscularity, a quality the Ballet BC dancers perform with aplomb.

Because Ballet BC doesn’t have the person power for the corps de ballet required for Giselle, the Greek chorus has been supplemented by dancers from the Graduate Program at Arts Umbrella Dance. 

“We had 12 days to find the skeleton of the piece and then we invited two separate groups of audience members to the studio to get feedback. We were then able to bring the muscles, tendons and breath into it, " said Navas who enjoyed working with the Arts Umbrella dancers. " The Arts Umbrella dancers were so fast in finding solutions which is so important as I work in collaboration with the dancers. “


At the end of his tenure as resident choreographer of Ballet BC, Navas is looking forward to exciting opportunities –performing a solo Rite of Spring with the Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra and choreographing a piece for the National Ballet of Canada- but is sad to be leaving Vancouver and thankful for his time spent here.

“I hope to come back to Vancouver, “ Navas shared. "I’ve had a wonderful experience here and discovered a beautiful city. I’ve loved working with the Ballet BC dancers.”

Tickets for Giselle can be purchased through Ticketmaster at 1-855-985-2787 (855-985-ARTS) or online at and range in price from $22.25 to $70.00 (plus service charges).





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