We discover what critics have had to say about this newly formed ballet company’s production of Giselle featuring choreography by Alexei Ratmansky.

(c)Altin Kaftira

The Guardian: **** “The conductor Viktor Oliynyk sets an urgent tone – brisk tempi let the story’s shadows arrive unawares. Christine Shevchenko, the American Ballet Theatre principal who led Tuesday’s cast, skips like a gazelle while Oleksii Tiutiunnyk’s Albert – light of foot, high of cheekbone – is all arcs and scissor jumps.”

Express.co.uk: “This new production is filled with lovely crisp and stylish corps de ballet scenes in the early peasant dances and then the Act !! appearance of the Wilis, spirits of wronged women, majestically led by splendid Elizaveta Gogidze as their Queen.”

The Telegraph: **** “In a night of high emotion at the London Coliseum, a new company of dancers brought a French (not Russian) classic to colourful life.”

Culture Whisper: *** “There is much to admire in this Giselle performed by the United Ukrainian Ballet, which is made up of ballet dancers exiled as a result of Russia’s invasion of their country – first and foremost the dancers’ sheer grit and their determination to use their art to make the case for their country.”

The JC.com: *** “Costumes and sets for this production have been loaned by the Birmingham Royal Ballet and the music performed by the English National Opera Orchestra, so this run has a patchwork feel about it, but one can only feel admiration for the dancers who are performing while their friends and relatives are still living in a warzone.”

The Reviews Hub: **** “For this performance Giselle is played by Christine Shevchenko and Albrecht by Oleksii Tiutiunnyk. This pairing is a good one and the village scenes with all the peasants and the dancing in celebration as these two get engaged is most enjoyable and the pairing of Veronika Hordina and especially Nikita Hodyna in the Peasant Pas de Deux mid Act One is outstanding but seemed not quite so polished. For this performance the costumes and sets are generously donated by the Birmingham Royal Ballet.”

Bach Track: **** “Regrettably, Katja Khaniukova was unable to dance but the Ukrainian principal from American Ballet Theatre, Christine Shevchenko was a stellar replacement in the title role, making it her own in a carefully nuanced interpretation across every scene. She was partnered by Oleksii Tiutiunyk (principal-in-exile from the National Ballet of Ukraine) as Albert. His expressiveness was commanding – I doubt that I have seen an Albrecht in such mortal fear of the Wilis. Sergei Kliachin was an Hilarion in the mould of Disney’s Gaston (Beauty and the Beast) and Elizaveta Gogidze was an outstanding Myrtha, Queen of an excellent host of well-behaved Wilis. Given the short time that the corps de ballet has had to work together, they were superb. The charismatic conductor, Viktor Oliynik directed the English National Opera Orchestra with the verve and passion that the evening deserved.”

The Times: **** “This performance was like no other. Bookended by the English National Opera (ENO) Chorus singing God Save the King at the start and the dancers — visibly moved — singing the Ukrainian national anthem at the end, it wasn’t the first dance event in London to raise money in support of Ukraine. But it was unique, for here we have the United Ukrainian Ballet, a company made up of refugee dancers who have fled their war-torn homeland and been given a new home in the Hague.”

British Theatre Guide: “From my second row in the stalls, I can see how much they are giving of themselves in their performances. I can see how much emotion is streaming off Viktor Oliynik (National Opera of Ukraine) in his conducting of the English National Opera. It’s a poignant evening, Giselle is a poignant ballet, and these refugee Ukrainians invest Ratmansky’s version, specially created for them, with everything they have. Eminent (his credits are many) Kyiv-born choreographer Alexei Ratmansky, once artistic director of the Bolshoi, now American Ballet Theatre Artist in Residence, has stripped Giselle of all the accoutrements that have built up over the decades and gives it to us, almost in its 1841 pure form.”

Giselle will be performed at the London Coliseum until the 17th September.


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