Three factors combined to make what may have been Northern Virginia's first home-grown "Giselle" a success. They were Paula Tennyson's nonsense staging, the seriousness of a mixed cast of young professional and student dancers, and the nearly fool-proof structure of the ballet itself. Anyone seeing this production of Tania Rousseau and Oleg Tupine's Virginia Ballet Company at the West Springfield High School over the weekend could get an honest inkling of why balletomanes scour he world for great performances.
In "Giselle," the urgency and inevitabilty of a great love-beyond-death story make an alloy of the dancing and acting. It didn't matter that Enita Naranjo, a Giselle of statuesque plasticity rather than lightness, was so perfunctory in the explicit mime that she hardly seemed aware of her lover. Nor was it crucial that Sandy Fallon, a vigorous if not always noble Albrecht, was so absorbed in gesturing that he appeared to be in love more with his own sentiments than with Giselle. The drama implicit in the dancing made it clear that the heroine's passion survives betrayal and despite duplicity, that the hero is worthy of her.
The pace of Tennyson's astute direction never gave the young dancers a chance to sag in lyrical passages. Using an undiluted version of Adolphe Adam's score, she replaced Burgmuller's familiar peasant duet with a fresh set of dances for Albrecht's squire and four peasant maids to music restored from the original.
A stern, blond youngster -- Mara Mezmalis -- was particularly impressive in the disciplined Wilis' ensemble. John Burton the squire, was a textbook case of the ambitious performer who manages tricks in the air but hasn't yet learned to walk well across the stage. As stager, Tennyson (formerly of the Ballet Russe) was making her comeback to ballet; she's welcome to stay.