Review Roundup: Silicon Valley Ballet in Alicia Alonso’s “Giselle”

Photo by Bari Lee of Alexsandra Meijer as Giselle, Brett Bauer as Albrecht, and Silicon Valley Ballet in Alicia Alonso's Giselle.

Photo by Bari Lee of Alexsandra Meijer as Giselle, Brett Bauer as Albrecht, and Silicon Valley Ballet in Alicia Alonso's Giselle.

The curtain may have come down on our historic performances of Alicia Alonso’s “Giselle,” but we continue to relive our triumphant weekend as the reviews roll in. We enjoyed an unforgettable weekend of performances, our first as Silicon Valley Ballet, and the entire organization pulled together to bring this production to the stage. Take a look at what some of the critics around the Bay Area have said about SVB’s production of Alicia Alonso’s Giselle.

Writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, critc Claudia Bauer said, "this Giselle turns out to be a pre-Halloween treat.” 

"Friday evening was a night of firsts for Silicon Valley Ballet. Not only did the former San Jose Ballet debut under its new moniker, it also became the first American company to perform Alicia Alonso’s Giselle." 

"SVB’s Cuban-trained artistic director, José Manuel Carreño, grew up dancing this Giselle and has long wanted to set it on an American company. It’s easy to see why - along with bravura choreography and tragic romance, Alonso’s version offers lavish, theatrical staging that transformed San Jose Center for the Performing Arts into an enchanting realm." 

"On Friday, Alexsandra Meijer … infused strength and sorrow into the highly technical adagio and tenderly forgave her betrayer; racked with regret, he trailed after his lost love and elevated her into featherweight lifts. Recently hired principal Brett Bauer debut(ed) in the role (of Albrecht) on opening night. Bauer is an elegant dancer, tall and long-limbed, with a buoyant jump and boyish good looks that suit the part."
 
"The entire cast benefited from world-class coaching by Alonso’s longtime stagers Loipa Araújo and Svetlana Ballester. As Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis, Amy Marie Briones ruled the underworld with mighty attack and a bone-chilling stare. Jing Zhang and Cindy Huang, as her deputies Moyna and Zulma, deployed ... supple Cuban épaulement. The corps synchronized their movements down to the merciless wrist flicks with which they dispatched their pleading victims." 

Photo by Bari Lee of Chloe Sherman, Cindy Huang, Jing Zhang and SVB Supernumeraries, School Students, and dancers in Act 1 of Alicia Alonso's Giselle.

Photo by Bari Lee of Chloe Sherman, Cindy Huang, Jing Zhang and SVB Supernumeraries, School Students, and dancers in Act 1 of Alicia Alonso's Giselle.


Aimée Ts'ao, San Jose Mercury News correspondent said “this troupe is looking better than ever.”

"Artistic director José Manuel Carreño started dreaming of creating this production when he took the company's reins for the 2013-14 season. It took a year and a half to arrange the rights and secure guest teacher-coaches from Cuba to train the company in the requisite Romantic style. Bringing in Cuban experts has paid off handsomely. Clean footwork, crisp ensemble dancing and a distinct adoption of the softer, more rounded arms of the Romantic style are among the hard-won results."

"Alonso's choreography also features the satisfying inclusion of many more details in the narrative, full-bodied dances for the peasants in the first act and for the wilis in the second, as well as more dramatic complexity to the relationships involving Giselle and Albrecht and Hilarion the latter as competitors for her attentions. Replacing the traditional peasant pas de deux with a pas de dix (comprising six women and four men) allowed the dancers to be much more than mere background decoration and to demonstrate a sense of community, as the village entertains visiting nobility."

"In the opening performance, Brett Bauer played Albrecht, partnering Alexsandra Meijer as Giselle. His youthful demeanor and nuanced acting underlined his ardent love for the peasant girl -- and his failure, like Romeo's, to understand that by crossing deeply ingrained social boundaries, his romantic attraction to Giselle could cause a tragedy. Bauer made Albrecht's remorse while mourning Giselle at her grave seem genuine. Progressively moving from heartbreak to losing touch with reality, Meijer's Giselle adds chilling touches -- such as pulling her tresses over her face, showing the audience trembles in her fingers that then travel up her arms and displaying a completely vacant expression as she faces the entire village."

Photo by Bari Lee of Amy Marie Briones as Myrtha and Silicon Valley Ballet in Alicia Alonso's Giselle.  

Photo by Bari Lee of Amy Marie Briones as Myrtha and Silicon Valley Ballet in Alicia Alonso's Giselle.  

Terez Rose of bachtrack.com says, “the history made in San Jose’s Center for the Performing Arts Friday night was twofold, as a newly rebranded Silicon Valley Ballet – formerly Ballet San Jose – presented Alicia Alonso’s Giselle."

"Alexsandra Meijer, as Giselle, delivered a stirring performance throughout the evening, high-spirited and smiling in the first act, with clean footwork and beautiful arabesque lines."

"Act II opens with spectacular effect: a spooky midnight glade with curls of fog and dead tree branches curling outward. Amy Marie Briones as Myrtha, Queen of the Willis, was brilliantly imperious, decisive in her dancing. A set of grandes sissonnes ouvertes down a diagonal demonstrated the crispness of her focus, her port de bras. As in Act I, the quality of the ensemble work proved notable. As Willis, these dancers were impeccable, intimidating, with the two lead Willis, Jing Zhang and Cindy Huang, taking the quality one step higher."

"Giselle reappears, now as a Willi. Meijer’s bourrés, skimming across the stage, were tight, fleet, and mesmerizing to watch. Her dancing in this act, while vibrant with the energy the choreography requires, remained ethereal, unapproachably beautiful. Here the chemistry between her and (Brett) Bauer seemed … sorrowfully heartfelt. Their adagio pas de deux was pure beauty, one of the evening’s tender highlights." 

Photo by Bari Lee of Alexsandra Meijer and Brett Bauer in Alicia Alonso's Giselle.

Photo by Bari Lee of Alexsandra Meijer and Brett Bauer in Alicia Alonso's Giselle.

And Iride Aparicio of Cultural World Bilingual said that opening night was "a night to be remembered in this city."

"Alonso’s masterful choreography made the first act of the ballet come alive. The precision of all the dances was perfect. In her role as Giselle, Alexsandra Meijer had a chance to … demonstrate her expertise. Her folk dancing demanded finesse. In the second act Meijer played her role with mastery, starting by crossing the stage rapidly on pointe, giving us the impression that she was floating in the air. When one talks about Giselle … the world’s critics always mention the names of the ballerinas from around the world, who have best interpreted  the difficult role: Makarova, Pavlova, Karsavina, Alicia Alonso. Perhaps in the future the name of Alexsandra Meijer will be added to that list."

"In his role as Albrecht, (Brett) Bauer demonstrated that he could act, and that he has a masterful dancing technique. Looking royal, he mastered every one of his fast turns, flew high in the air during his jumps, and demonstrated his strength."

The best dances in the second act, were the ensembles of the wilis. Female dancers ... look(ed) like brides, but with a ghostly appearance. A marvelous visual effect, … lines of dancers, crossed each other dancing in pointe at a fast tempo. The softness and transparency of their skirts floating in the air made them look spectral."

Thank you to all who attended Giselle; your support in the audience brings our dancers so much joy.