LIKE "Romeo and Juliet" or "La Traviata," the 19th-century story ballet "Giselle" is fair game for all who feel the need to put their personal touch on a classic work of art.
Les Ballets Trockaderos de Monte Carlo, an all-male troupe, does a hilarious send-up in drag. And last season Washington audiences watched the Dance Theater of Harlem's Louisiana-style "Giselle," a production replete with antebellum flavor.
For those who take their classics straight, however, there is always American Ballet Theater's familiar version of "Giselle," to be performed Friday and Saturday at Wolf Trap. This tragic tale of a peasant girl, her aristocrat lover and the forces -- supernatural and worldly -- that plague their relationship has come to be considered the quintessential Romantic ballet.
"To be romantic abousomething," wrote George Balanchine and Francis Mason in their Complete Stories of the Great Ballets, "is to see what you are and to wish for something entirely different. This requires magic."
That abounds in "Giselle," whether it's the bucolic magic of Act One's village scenes, the emotional magic of Giselle's dance of death, or the eerily beautiful magic of the Wilis -- young girls who, having died before their wedding days, rise en masse from their graves and set male suitors dancing till they die.
"Giselle" has always thrived on the individual qualities each ballerina brings to the title role. This time around, Marianna Tcherkassky and Cynthia Harvey will offer their portraits of the doomed girl.
Both nights, "Giselle" will be preceded by the mesmerizing "Kingdom of the Shades" scene from Marius Petipa's "La Bayadere.