Tamara Rojo, dancer and artistic director of English National Ballet, explores Giselle - the first great Romantic ballet, and a defining role for any ballerina. Through two radically contrasting 2016 productions - a traditional 19th-century recreation, and a gritty reimagining of the work by celebrated Anglo-Bangladeshi choreographer Akram Khan - Rojo examines the cultural and social background to the ballet's genesis in 1840s Paris, and the spiritual themes that have fuelled its success over the last 175 years. Giselle is the story of a young peasant girl who personifies all that is good in life, and ultimately forgives the aristocrat who has seduced and betrayed her. With Giselle, the look and emotional heart of ballet was transformed forever, from mime-based storytelling to a fusion of emotion, music and movement, formulating a tradition that has inspired audiences, dancers and choreographers ever since.
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