David Dawson


World première: 9 March 2008
Dresden SemperOper Ballett, Saxon State Opera Semperoper, Dresden, Germany

Choreography, Concept and Staging
 David Dawson
Music Adolphe Adam, arranged by David Coleman
Set Design Arne Walther
Costume Design Yumiko Takeshima
Light Design and Production Bert Dalhuysen
Dramaturgy Freya Vass-Rhee
Assistants to the Choreographer  
Tim Couchman / Laura Graham / Marc Boermans

For more than 160 years GISELLE has been seen as the undisputed masterpiece of classical romantic ballet. In his re-creation of the famous classic, David Dawson, one of today’s most exciting choreographers, removes this eternal story from the conditions of the 19th century and explores it within the frames of its timelessness, re-experiencing the magic of emotions of classical ballet and the story of pure love through modern classical dance language.

GISELLE is a work that tries to explore the idea of love as both the ordinary and the extra-ordinary, and the loss of which remains unforgettable. But this is love that comes with sacrifice and responsibility. As if repeating a belief passed down through the generations, the consequences of the betrayal are no longer just personal and temporal, but universal and eternal. Giselle faces an afterlife of vengeance and has a similar choice to make that is rooted in a timeless question of classical literature: justice or mercy? Key to any interpretation of one of the greatest female roles of the classical canon is how Giselle makes this choice. She may have become a wili in form, but not in heart. And if Albrecht has found his heart by sacrificing hers, Giselle must convince with her total generosity of spirit. She doesn’t just save him. By refusing vengeance and remaining true to herself, she saves herself. Only in Giselle’s death does Albrecht ever feel the emotions of life so purely and passionately. In that single moment, life and death balance each other, becoming the same thing wrapped in one.

For Dawson, GISELLE, Albrecht and the other characters are people beautiful in their youthfulness, who live through realities that are comparable with those of the dancers that play them. He not only takes the story and personalities out of time frames, but also suggests his own interpretation of the principles of classical dance through his own choreographic stylistics, exploring the coexistence of the past and present dance techniques where precision and refinement of classical ballet is skillfully woven into the tapestry of unbroken sequence of exquisite combinations in boundless space. The idea of universality and timelessness is further reflected in the complete re-orchestration and re-arrangement of Adam’s original musical score by David Coleman, a new and pure set design by Arne Walther, everlasting simplicity of form and shape of Yumiko Takeshima’s costumes, and the contrasting mood of the ever-changing sky in the lighting concept by Bert Dalhuysen.

Dawson’s GISELLE is a unique piece with an innovative approach. Remaining true to himself in style, David Dawson pays his homage to the original choreography displaying the roots of his inspiration.

Istvan Simon, Andrea Parkyn - On the Nature of Daylight - Semperoper Ballett - photo © Costin RaduClaudio Cangialosi - The World According to Us - Semperoper Ballett - photo © Costin Radu