Haunted forests, quaint mountain villages, mystic legends of fairies and ghostly visitors, forces of nature, love overcoming death - these images and themes are interwoven into the two-act ballet Giselle, considered by many to be one of the greatest romantic ballets of all time. First presented in 1841 by the Ballet du Théâtre de l'Académie Royale de Musique at the Salle Le Peletier in Paris, this masterpiece tells the story of a peasant girl named Giselle whose ghost, after her premature death, protects her lover from the vengeance of a group of evil female spirits called Wilis.
The original production was choreographed by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot, with music by Adolphe Adam and a libretto by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-George and Théophile Gautier. The choreography in modern productions generally derives from the 1884 revival by Marius Petipa for the Imperial Russian Ballet (now the Kirov/Mariinsky Ballet).
The role of Giselle is one of the most sought-after in the ballet repertoire, requiring that the ballerina have impeccable technique to execute the physical demands of the role, while masking the difficulty with strong dramatic skills and outstanding grace. For the Moscow Festival Ballet's 2012 U.S. tour, the title role will be danced by Ekaterina Egorova and Maria Sokolnikova. Dmitry Shchemelinin and Aidos Zakan share the role of Count Albrecht, Giselle's lover.