Last week, I taught the children about the ballet Giselle.
Giselle is a “White Ballet,” so called because it’s one of many ballets to feature a romantic length white tutu for costume. Le Sylphide is another white ballet the children will learn about in the coming months.
This beloved ballet is set in Germany’s Rhineland; however, one of the productions that made this ballet so loved was Harlem Ballet’s Creole version, which reset the ballet in the American South. I can’t find this version online in its entirety but you can see a clip here:
For a more traditional rendition of the ballet, see the The National Ballet of Canada production, which is one of the more recent versions you can see online. I’m partial to the 1969 American Ballet Production as it’s very cinematic.
If you choose to watch with your child: You might ask your child about the introductory actions in the ballet. Why does Albrecht have a sword? (It shows he’s from the upper classes. Giselle is a peasant.)
You can also watch for choreography: ballets typically create units of movement to signify events. For example, Giselle and Albrecht do a little hopping dance I taught the children some of in class. This charming little dance signifies happiness and it returns in the second act when the couple reunites and recalls how much fun they had together. Helping the children notice and recall ballet events like this reinforces the steps we learn in class and adds meaning because the steps also signify something inside the ballet’s universe.