The heartbreakingly beautiful story of Giselle is hitting the stage this week at the Pennsylvania Ballet. Angel Corella, a former principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre who played Albrecht in the production years ago, is bringing the show back to life as the Artistic Director. Corella was on the cover of the New York Times for his performance in the wildly popular ballet, and he hopes to bring the same kind of energy to the City of Brotherly Love. Corella chatted with Metro about what to expect at the show, the power of emotion with dancing and how Giselle can teach everyone a lesson about love and life.
Angel Corella discusses the heartbreakingly beautiful ballet, Giselle
Why was Giselle chosen for the 2019 season?
Angel Corella: I usually choose the season depending on the dancers we have and also the direction more or less of where the whole season is going. I think last season it was energetic with a lot of dancing, and this season it was more of a romantic kind of season. We started with Romeo and Juliet, it felt like a continuation of love stories and Giselle is one of the most heartbreaking stories on the repertoire. So I think that it was the most obvious choice at this time, and the company hasn’t done it in quite a long time so I wanted to bring back with my point of view of the story.
Do you try to guide your dancers or let their own interpretation take precedent when dancing?
Angel Corella: With Giselle, I have to be very specific because there is a lot of style and movement that needs to be very clear to be able to tell the story. So it’s not a ballet that you can leave open to interpretation, there’s a couple of scenes where the dancers can be more creative and add a little bit more of their creativity. But I think with Giselle, we have to be more true and accurate to how it was created so it doesn’t have as much freedom as other ballet’s do. But actually, within the same ballet, the energy, look and the approach of doing those steps, it can be very different depending on who does it. That’s what’s so great about live performances, everyone can look different doing the same thing.
Since Giselle is such an emotional show, is it better to let emotion take over while dancing or do you have to be more strict while performing?
Angel Corella: Well, the hardest thing with this ballet is you have to be two completely different dancers from Act I to Act II, especially if you’re Giselle. In Act I, she’s very earthy and very full of life, she’s got a beautiful big heart with great energy- she’s very alive. The second act is all light and airy with the movements, there’s still a lot of passion in her spirit but all the movements and all the dancing has to look completely ethereal. We have to go from a point of technical ability and technical strength to the dancer going onstage and forgetting about it all and getting into the role. I do focus a lot in the rehearsal on the technical part, but then after all of that is under control we start to let it go and start to get into what is really important to tell the story.
The story follows a woman who has her heart broken by a powerful man and then forgives him, what do you think makes this story so timeless especially in today’s world?
Angel Corella: I think that’s the surface of the story but there’s something much deeper than that. There is a lesson to be learned from her [Giselle] point of view and from his [Albrecht] point of view. In the end, he’s left loveless and with a life that he’s not happy with and although she has died, she has filled her life with a positive and very pure soul. So I think there is a great lesson to be learned. He promised something to her that couldn’t be fulfilled and we feel sorry for her, but in the end, we should feel sorry for him. He’s left alone and completely destroyed and she teaches him about the purity of love and how important it is. So I think the power is on her side more than his side ultimately.
Overall what can the people of Philadelphia expect from the production?
Angel Corella: They can expect one of the most endearing and most important ballets of the classical repertoire. It’s beautiful dancing but also a wonderful love story with a supernatural element. It’s a beautiful and romantic story about love and betrayal. It’s a story with a lesson to be learned about love and living your life to the fullest, and not waiting until it’s too late. It’s funny that most full-length ballets are about being loved and betrayed by a man so let’s just hope that someone will create a ballet the other way around one day.
Giselle runs from March 7-17. For more information and to purchase tickets visit paballet.org