United Ukrainian Ballet, Giselle, London Coliseum

United Ukrainian Ballet, Giselle, London Coliseum
United Ukrainian Ballet, Giselle, London Coliseum

Therese Guerreiro

Tickets go on sale Monday, July 11Ukrainian ballet dancers forced to flee their homeland following the invasion of Russia and the ongoing war, have reorganized in exile as the United Ukrainian Ballet. They are based in the old building of the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, supported by the Dutch government and local businesses, so that they can continue to practice their art.

United Ukrainian Ballet comes to London in September for a series of Romantic ballet performances Gisele to help his country. All proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal and the United Ukrainian Ballet Foundation, which was established in the Netherlands with a mission to protect, support and spread Ukrainian culture.

This production of Gisele was developed by American choreographer Alexei Ratmansky, who grew up in Ukraine and gained an unrivaled reputation for reconstructing great ballet classics, bringing them as close as possible to what they were intended to look like when they were created.

Gisele is the story of the innocent peasant woman who falls in love with the aristocrat Count Albrecht, who has fun teasing him a bit by pretending to be a simple villager. When her betrayal is revealed, Giselle dies of grief. Act II takes place at night in a forest inhabited by the ruthless Wilis, spirits of young girls who died before their wedding day, who force any man caught in their domination to dance until he dies. A remorseful Albrecht, who comes to visit Giselle’s grave, is saved from death only by the intervention of his forgiving spirit.

The ballet is set to a score by Adolphe Adam and was originally choreographed by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot for its premiere in the mid-19th century. Ratmansky returned to the original, cleaning up the work from many later accretions, to present a clearer, more limpid picture. Gisele than what we are used to.

The great ballerina Alina Cojocaru, a Romanian trained in Kyiv (top photo), will be invited, and we know from experience that she is a deeply touching Giselle. You will remember that Cojocaru was one of the organizers of the gala Dance for Ukraine, which took place at the Coliseum in March this year and raised over £140,000 for the DEC Ukraine appeal.

Katja Khaniukova, first Ukrainian soloist of the English National Ballet, is also invited. We don’t yet know if they will alternate in the role of Giselle or if Khaniukova will take on the role of Queen of the Wilis, which suits her solid technique and powerful jump.

Further details should appear in the coming weeks and months – watch this space for updates.

Helen D. Jessen