Last night, Kitty and I were lucky enough to be invited to Theatre Royal, Brighton for a performance of Giselle, by international dance company Varna. I love the sense of history at the Theatre Royal – it opened in 1807 with a performance of Hamlet – and there’s always something special about seeing ballet in red velvet and gilt-tinged environment. At just two hours, including the interval, this was an ideal production for young people, and there were many in the audience last night. Giselle is the story of a young girl who, after her untimely death, must protect her lover from a group of evil spirits who want him to dance until he dies. Varna opted for a traditional production, with a colourful village-based first act dissolving into an eerie second half in a suitably spooky graveyard. Sets were simple and classic, although Kitty and I both agreed that the animations of the spirits on the backdrop were unnecessary.
Varna is a Bulgaria-based company of dancers from across Europe and performances were impressive: the corps de ballet didn’t fall out of step once and Anastasia Lebedyk as Giselle danced beautifully – we were amazed by her ability to stay on pointe for so long. It was fabulous to have a live orchestra as well, although Kitty didn’t realise until she spotted the conductor pop up before the second act. Giselle was for one night only, but Varna are performing Swan Lake tonight and have two performances of Nutcracker tomorrow – with tickets starting from just £13, it’s a great half-term treat.