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Gerald Carpenter: Goleta Ballet School Ends Summer Term with ‘Giselle’

Performance of beloved romantic ballet is Friday night at Center Stage Theatre at Paseo Nuevo

The Goleta School of Ballet will conclude its five week "Summer Intensive" course with a full-length performance of the beloved romantic ballet, "Giselle, or the Wilis" (1841)— music by Adolphe Adam; libretto by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges and Théophile Gautier, based on passages by Heinrich Heine and Victor Hugo; choreography by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot (as revived and codified in the late nineteenth century by Marius Petipa).

The performance will be at 7 p.m. Friday at the Center Stage Theater, upstairs at the Paseo Nuevo Mall.

There is a purity about "Giselle" that has earned it a special position in the standard repertory, and it is the purity of the dancing human form observed with virtually no distractions from the music or plot.

You enjoy the score of "Swan Lake" or "Romeo and Juliet" or, as we were recently reminded, "Petrushka," without ever having watched the ballet itself; not so, "Giselle."

Adam was a skilled musical tailor, and every note fits the dancers' limbs like skin, but heard without the visual element, it just disappears.

The plot is similarly streamlined and serviceable. Most romantic ballets feature the death of a young woman, but few bring the event to pass so soon as "Giselle." The eponymous heroine is a pretty young peasant girl who dies of a broken heart when she learns that the man she loves is going to marry someone else.

She is brought back to life by The Wilis, a group of supernatural feminist avengers whose sole activity is dancing men to death. They revive Giselle in order that she might perform this execution upon the man who jilted her, but she frustrates their design and lets him live, preferring to return to the grave herself rather than kill the man she still loves.

That's all there is to it: love and death triumph at the same time. What could be more purely romantic?

Tickets to this "Giselle" are $20 and all seats are general admission. Owing to the particulars of the auditorium seating arrangements, late-comers will not be seated after the performance starts.

For tickets and other information, call 805.963.0408, or go on line to:

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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