Akram Khan’s Giselle review – a modern classic in the making

Palace theatre, Manchester
English National Ballet’s dancers delight in Khan’s 21st-century Giselle. All it needs now is a plot…

Akram Khan’s new production of Giselle for English National Ballet is one of the most eagerly awaited dance works of recent years, and for the most part the excitement and anticipation are justified. Tim Yip’s designs are dramatic, Vincenzo Lamagna’s score is compelling, and Khan’s choreography is very fine indeed. But the work is seriously flawed by structural deficiencies and a thready storyline.

We discover a group of figures in parchment coloured shifts and tunics facing a massive wall. Their attitudes are those of helplessness and frustration; they are, the programme informs us, migrant workers. Mark Henderson’s lighting places them in silhouette, as enclosed in their individual solitude as Giacometti statuettes. We hear ominous electronic reverberations, and then, as the dancers pick up a massed folk dance, recognisable melody lines from Adolphe Adam’s original Giselle score begin to surface.

A ballet is a story told in movement; you should be able to understand every nuance without having to buy a programme

Related: Akram Khan’s refugee Giselle: ‘A real woman in a catastrophic situation’

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Source: Guardian Dance News

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