Two Giselles - Royal Festival Hall
It seems that no ballerina can resist the perennial lure of Giselle, whether she be temperamentally suited for the part or not. In the past ten years we have seen over thirty deceived peasant girls in London, half of whom should never have attempted the part, and Festival Ballet have maintained this statistic on Wednesday and Thursday this week with two new interpretations by Olga Ferri and Gabriella Lakatos, with only Miss Ferri showing a proper appreciation of the role’s demands.
She gives a performance that is very nicely judged dramatically in the first act; her Giselle has an innocent charm and a winning confidence in her Loys that makes the mad scene pathetic, if not deeply moving. She shows a delicate mind unhinged by shock, and uses the surrounding crowd with great skill to emphasise the gradual progress of her insanity. The second act is perhaps a little under-danced, but Miss Ferri is light and fluent in her exposition of the movements, and she has the inestimable benefit of Wladimir Skouratoff as her partner
Skouratoff is the Romantic dancer par excellence, and his Albrecht, which we have not seen for six years, is a magnificent portrait of the impassioned hero of the 1840’s. It is a complete portrayal: every moment has dramatic interest, and his relationship with each character is fully explored. To Giselle he his the attentive lover, suggesting the courtly manners that will so delight the village girl, and his second act is as well thought out dramatically as the first; a pleasant change from the usual run of Princes who seem to came to the wood with a bunch of lilies and an expression of pained surprise. He spars through the dances of exhaustion with a terrifying sense of being forced on to the limits of his strenght by the Willi’s powers – this is not a technical display, but a man being danced to his death.
This whole interpretation strikes home as an enormously thoughful one : everything has been carefully considered for dramatic verity and then recreated in the performance with telling urgency. Gautier wrote of Lucien Petipa, the first Albrecht, that he was “graceful, passionate and touching”. The words hold good today of Skouratoff’s masterly performance.
(Clement Crisp, London, 1961)