Review: Giselle – English Youth Ballet

Emma Lister and Oliver Speers

English Youth Ballet’s beautifully staged and dramatic two act version of Giselle is filled with young talented dancers and professional ballerinas that creates a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

The first act opens in the grounds of an English country estate with dancers from as young as eight to 18 years old dancing onto the stage against a stunning set design. The youngest budding ballerinas melted hearts with their little steps, cute tulle and darling twirls.  The aristocratic girls and boys delighting the audience together with the villagers.  They performed admirably as the choreography became more challenging to match the age of the dancers.

Excitement filled the theatre with the entrance of Giselle, danced by Guest Ballerina Emma Lister.  Emma elevated the performance with her graceful dancing of the young Giselle who falls in love.  Emma is a playful and captivating Giselle, full of character and a joy to watch.  She is light and elegant with beautiful pointe work and smooth pirouettes and long arabesques.  She is admired not only by the audience but also by the young dancers.

What is striking is the professionalism of each member of the cast, the young dancers stayed in character throughout the performance and gave everything to their roles. Giselle’s Friends, the elder girls, and their partners gave a sweet and accomplished performance both in the more difficult roles.

Royal Ballet School trained Oliver Speers portrays Prince Albert less a villan and more a love sick fool who falls for Giselle.  Together Emma and Oliver take the audience on a journey of innocent adoration as he lavishes her with affection throughout their elegant pas de deux, as she is literally swept away by the tall Prince.  Emma’s beautiful lines, light jetes and perfect pirouettes are executed with ease and grace.  When Giselle’s heart breaks as the truth is revealed the audience shares the devastation. Emma portrays the depth of the betrayal by Prince Albert, leading to her dramatic and emotional death which she dances showing the pain and sorrow running through her movements until Giselle moves no more.

After an often funny, adorable and beautifully danced first Act, the second, at Giselle’s gravesite, is by contrast somber and muted with the older girls – the Wilis – entirely on pointe in long flowing and pale costumes.  Principal Artist Amy Drew’s performance as the Queen of the Wilis is regal as she commands the stage and her Wilis.  The Woodnymphs are also to be commended for their roles.  The final pas de deux between Emma and Oliver is beautiful and Emma shines as Giselle right up to the final moments when she is forever parted from her Prince.

The English Youth Baller’s unique combination of professional and young dancers works seamlessly, providing an insight into the progression from first ballet steps to principal dancer.  Coupled with an easy to follow story with characters in gorgeous costumes, Giselle draws you in.

For a youth company Giselle is a professional production and incredible after only 10 days of rehearsal.  If English Youth Ballet comes to your local area, make sure you book your ticket for a great night of wonderful ballet with a company that helps so many young dancers from around the country.

About English Youth Ballet

Founded in 1998, English Youth Ballet presents full-length classical ballets in the regional theatres of England, Scotland and Wales. Bringing opportunity to young dancers outside London aged 8-18 years to perform within a professional setting.

Each year the professional principal dancers are joined by 100 young dancers to presents 8 productions in cities and regional areas throughout the UK.

Founder and Director Janet Lewis, backed by an experienced professional team, brings her enormous energy, drive, enthusiasm and unique creative flair to inspire and lead young dancers to fulfil their potential and to provides them with a unique opportunity to experience life in a professional ballet company.

Now in its 16th year, English Youth Ballet has developed it into a highly successful youth dance company. The demand for places is expressed by the hundreds of young dancers who audition annually. Many of our students go on to vocational training having gained enormous confidence, invaluable performing experience and great pleasure from their involvement with English Youth Ballet.\

English Youth Ballet is performing Sleeping Beauty at The Wolverhampton Grand Theatre in September.

Read more about English Youth Ballet.

Giselle, English Youth Ballet, Churchill Theatre Bromley, 15 August 2014

(Photo of Guest Ballerina Emma Lister and Oliver Speers, English Youth Ballet)