America’s oldest ballet company, SF Ballet first presented Giselle in 1947, and it was last seen at SF Ballet in 2015. The ballet includes a story of betrayal, love, death, and rebirth and its famous second act featuring a chorus of ghostly maidens.
Giselle offers a chance for dancers from SF Ballet’s multinational roster to debut in and return to the lead roles of Giselle and Albrecht—roles which remain significant to SF Ballet Artistic Director Tamara Rojo, who most recently danced Akram Kahn’s Giselle in 2022, and previous Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson.
“The whole Act 2 is a work of art like no other—the spirituality of it,” says Rojo about the character’s transformation from human to Willi. “Very rarely, as a human body made of flesh, is a performer asked to inhabit the uninhabitable.” Similarly, Tomasson danced Albrecht in four productions of Giselle with four companies before creating his own version on SF Ballet in 1999, which expands Albrecht’s dance sections and adds a first act solo to choreography by Marius Petipa, Jules Perrot, and Jean Coralli.
Giselle premiered at Paris Opera Ballet in 1841 and is considered one of the most significant surviving classical story ballets of all time. The score is by Adolphe Adam, who also composed Le Corsaire. Tomasson’s Giselle includes scenic, costume, and lighting design by Danish artist Mikael Melbye.