Paris Opera Ballet’s ‘Giselle’ is a promising summer dance offering
By Sarah Kaufman,
Washington’s summer dance calendar may be on the light side, but this is no time to resign yourself to the couch. (Reruns, really? I know you’re more adventurous than that.) Keep those strappy heels and maybe a tie at the ready; prepare to pack the watermelon gazpacho and a thermos of juleps into the picnic basket. Whether dressed up or open-air casual, you’re likely to find a bit of soul-soothing paradise on area stages even as the temperatures soar.
The most lustrous of the upcoming gems is the Paris Opera Ballet, arriving for a rare Kennedy Center sojourn, July 5-8. Its “Giselle,” with unique elements such as restored mime sequences and a first-act showcase for eight women, is one to see even if you think you’ve had your fill of this frequently performed romantic-era tale of rustic virtues, broken trust and love beyond the grave.
For one thing, “Giselle” was created for the Paris Opera Ballet and its light, pure performance style back in 1841; for another, this company, one of the world’s artistic treasures, is an infrequent visitor here. Astonishingly, it has not appeared at the center since 1993, a span of time that defies belief, except that I bear such a sharp memory of that long-ago run. (The occasion was the center’s superb France Danse festival, and among the troupe’s offerings was its late director Rudolf Nureyev’s full-length “La Bayadere.”)
Wolf Trap’s informal setting plays host to two first-rate dance companies this summer, starting with Ballet Hispanico, bringing a seasonally appropriate all-Cuban program June 26. “Asuka,” choreographed by Artistic Director Eduardo Vilaro, a native Cuban, features the music of Celia Cruz. Pedro Ruiz, also Cuban-born, created “Guajira,” which celebrates the women of the island’s countryside, and “Club Havana,” starring the conga, rumba, mambo and cha-cha.
Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company makes its Wolf Trap debut with its newest production, “Story/Time,” on July 31. Jones’s work was inspired by John Cage’s “Indeterminacy,” a 1958 event in which the composer sat alone onstage and read the audience a series of one-minute stories. In “Story/Time,” Jones will read his own one-minute stories as his dancers perform around him. Consider it a return to his experimental roots for the two-time Tony Award winner.