Akram Khan’s new adaptation of Giselle has opened in Manchester to strong reviews. Commissioned and performed by English National Ballet, it is the first time Khan has created a full length ballet work.
Khan is known for mixing contemporary dance with Indian kathak styles and his works like DESH, Until The Lions and KAASH have been critically well received. However, working with a traditional ballet ensemble was a different challenge, and the rehearsal process was not without problems: Khan dismissed composer Ben Frost just a month before the opening night, replacing him with Vincenzo Lamagna.
The Guardian praised Khan for giving the ballet a ‘rhythmic and visceral heft and a new gestural vocabulary’ while The New York Times said it was ‘the best work Khan has created.’ Both publications added the caveat that the narrative was not as clear in this version as in the original.
Originally performed in 1841, Giselle tells the story of young girl who is seduced by an aristocrat pretending to be a peasant. When she realises the deception she goes mad and dies. The show features costumes by Tim Yip (known for his work on films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and lighting from Mark Henderson.
Giselle is on at Manchester’s Palace Theatre until 1 October, and then at Birmingham Hippodrome from 18-22 October.