Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
The amazing thing was that despite of deficiencies of the videocasting, Thursday night's "Giselle" - broadcast live from the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House - had quite an extraordinary visceral and dramatic impact.
It was a testimony to the power of the medium, which may be its own worst enemy much of the time, but can also get up places and let us experience things in unique ways. Still more was the broadcast a witness to the communicative force of dance art at its greatest.
Thanks to the performance of Natalia Makarova, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Martine Van Hamel, that's just what this "Giselle" represented.
The performance by American Ballet Theater launched a new season of "Live From Lincoln Center" telecast on public TV, and was the series' second dance installment since last year's "Swan Lake."
For various reasons, the "Giselle" seemed far less effective as a "program" than its predecessor. The chief drawback was the remoteness of the dramatic action, particularly in the first act. A high point, however, was Baryshnikov's passionately overwrought transformation in the mad scene. Intermission guest Erik Bruhn remarked to host Dick Cavett: "I've never seen him quite so strong in that scene."
The second act, with its simpler dramatic skeleton, was far more potent. Here, the chilly majesty of Van Hamel's Myrta, and the unparalleled virtuosity of Makarova and Baryshnikov as Giselle and Albrecht, were completely riveting.