Pacific Northwest Ballet
June 3, 2011
June 4, 2011 matinee and evening
by Leigh Witchel
copyright © 2011 by Leigh Witchel
How much does it matter whether a ballet is historically correct? Less in some ways than is obvious, more in others than we realize. Pacific Northwest Ballet’s historically informed “Giselle” was a labor of love for company director Peter Boal and two dance researchers, Doug Fullington and Marian Smith, who sifted through historical material and created a performing edition for the stage.
The sources consulted spread out over six decades of the 19th century. The earliest are two detailed manuscripts produced by ballet masters as aids to their own staging. Antoine Titus’ notes, translated by Smith, date from 1842, only a year after the ballet’s premiere. The notes of Henri Justamant date from the 1860s, but were found at a flea market in Germany less than a decade ago.