Paris Opera Ballet’s ‘Giselle’ is a promising summer dance offering

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.

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Summer highlights in the Washington area include “Giselle” by the Paris Opera Ballet.

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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.

 
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