Giselle leaves audience on the edge of their seat at Bristol Hippodrome opening night

PUBLISHED: 08:21 19 October 2016 | UPDATED: 08:21 19 October 2016

Cesar Corrales and Stina Quagebeur in Akram Khan's Giselle. Picture: Laurent Liotardo

Cesar Corrales and Stina Quagebeur in Akram Khan's Giselle. Picture: Laurent Liotardo


A tale of love, betrayal, forgiveness and death is brought to life in Akram Khan’s long-awaited recreation of the classic ballet, Giselle, which debuted at the Bristol Hippodrome last night (Tuesday).

Alina Cojocaru and Isaac Hernandez in Akram Khan's Giselle. Picture: Laurent LiotardoAlina Cojocaru and Isaac Hernandez in Akram Khan's Giselle. Picture: Laurent Liotardo

The English National Ballet took my breath away with its creative choreography and beautifully-scored music which built suspense well.

Normally a ballet is a bit like Marmite – you either love it or hate it but Khan’s remake pushes the boundaries on the traditional style.

The production breaks down the stereotypes of stiff ballerinas in tutus and instead delivers a unique and extraordinary show. Some of the dances even include aspects of other popular dance, including hip-hop and contemporary.

The story follows peasant girl Giselle (played by Tamara Rojo) who dies of a broken heart after discovering her lover, Albrecht (portrayed by James Streeter) is engaged to another woman.

Alina Cojocaru and Stina Quagebeur in Akram Khan's Giselle. Picture: Laurent LiotardoAlina Cojocaru and Stina Quagebeur in Akram Khan's Giselle. Picture: Laurent Liotardo

She is summoned from her grave by The Wilis – a group of supernatural women who dance men to death led by their Queen, Myrtha (danced by Stina Quagebeur).

Hilarion (played by Cesar Corrales), Giselle’s would-be lover, comes to mourn Giselle’s death. The Wilis demand retribution for the peasant girl’s death and set their sights on Hilarion.

From the opening scene right the way through to Rojo and Streeter’s pas de deux finale, the intensity and sheer talent of the dancers left me in awe.

Notable performances included the Quagebeur who portrayed a convincing bitter Queen with a hatred of men and Corrales for his cocky facade and sheer brilliance in any dance.

Cesar Corrales in Akram Khan's Giselle. Picture: Laurent LiotardoCesar Corrales in Akram Khan's Giselle. Picture: Laurent Liotardo

However, the spotlight could not be taken away from principal dancers Rojo and Streeter whose acting, athleticism and talent were a sight to behold.

The story is simple yet effective leaving my usual advice of ‘read up on the plot before you go’ unnecessary.

From start to finish I had goosebumps and I would strongly recommend giving this show a visit, whether you are a ballet fan or not.

Giselle will be at the Bristol Hippodrome from today (Wednesday) until Saturday. There will be performances at 7.30pm each evening, with a matinee at 2pm on Thursday and 2.30pm on Saturday.

Tickets, priced £13.90-49.40, are available via or by calling 08448 713012.

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