'A masterpiece of 21st-century ballet!' With these words, the British press welcomed Akram Khan's captivating adaptation of the 19th-century ballet Giselle in 2016. After a first successful series in 2018, Opera Ballet Vlaanderen is reviving this contemporary classic.
The peasant girl Giselle and the village boy Albrecht are in love. Little does she know that he is actually a duke who fled from his noble family and his betrothed. When Giselle discovers that Albrecht has misled her, she goes mad and dies of a broken heart. The Wilis, vengeful ghosts of abandoned brides, gather at Giselle's grave and welcome her into their midst. Led by their queen Myrtha, the Wilis force men to engage in an ecstatic dance that leads to their deaths. Giselle's love for Albrecht ultimately saves him from this fate.
British-Bengali choreographer Akram Khan translates this romantic tale of love and betrayal in a medieval German village into a contemporary parable about a community of guest workers and migrants whose refuge becomes inaccessible behind both literal and metaphorical walls. Khan's virtuoso dance language seeks connections between classical and contemporary movements with influences from the Indian Kathak, thus creating a choreographic universe all its own.