From Soweto to Milton Keynes welcome Dada Masilo’s Giselle
Revenge, whether eaten hot or cold, is a dish that is very much at the forefront of Dada Masilo’s extraordinary and fearless re-imagining of the iconic classic Giselle.
First staged in 1841, Giselle is one of the oldest surviving story ballets but internationally renowned choreographer Dada Masilo has reworked the Romantic tragedy serving up a fiery mix of classical ballet, African dance, comedy and vivid storytelling in a fresh South African setting. And you won’t be far off the mark if you spot echoes of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements in this visceral production.
When a trusting peasant girl is duped and rejected by her deceitful lover, the whole village taunts and spurns her. Giselle, danced by Masilo herself, dies of shame and a broken heart. But things don’t end there and if her rat of a former lover thinks he’s got away with his beastly behaviour, he’s got another thing coming.
From beyond the grave Giselle and the Wilis, a group of similarly betrayed vengeful spirits, set about wreaking havoc and death on the love rats who wronged them.
The score, by South African composer Philip Miller, combines classical strings with African percussion and voice.
Financially supported by Dance Consortium, a group of 20 large venues that includes Milton Keynes Theatre, Dada Masilo and her Johannesburg-based company is visiting the UK for the first time.
Dada Masilo says of her Giselle: “I wanted to make a ballet that was not pretty …I wanted to get away from that and bring it back home to South Africa and give it that edge, put it into that context. The world that we’re living in right now, there’s so much disruption, so much chaos happening, I think the Giselle that I made fits very well into what is happening round the world. My approach is to show that contemporary African dance and ballet can co-exist by finding an innovative way of fusing the two. I believe that we need to collapse barriers that exist between them because they are restrictions, and as dancers we don’t need restrictions.”
This is dance for 2019; feminist, revisionist, alarming but also formidably entertaining. Don’t miss it.
Performances: Fri 25 & Sat 26 Oct
Tickets: From £13
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