Dancing to the death

Salt Lake City’s premier professional ballet company, Ballet West, is staging one of the most well known and widely received classics in romantic ballet, “Giselle.”

First choreographed in 1841 by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot for rising ballerina Carlotta Grisi, “Giselle” was inspired by the legend of the Wilis, which appear in the second act of the ballet.

The story begins with the role of Duke Albrecht, disguised as a common villager, falling in love with the innocent peasant girl, Giselle. Upon learning of the duke’s identity and plans to marry a princess, Giselle is consumed by madness and suddenly dies.

The Wilis — maidens who reached death before the day of their weddings and were buried in unsacred ground — are introduced at the gravesite of Giselle. If encountered by a man, the Wilis will dance him to his death, and Myrtha, the queen of the Wilis, attempts to place this doom upon Albrecht.

Out of her love for the duke, Giselle manages to sustain Albrecht until the Wilis retreat to their tombs at the sign of daybreak, saving his life.

Ballet West will present “Giselle” at the Capitol Theatre, April 13 through 21. Evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m. There is also a 2 p.m. matinee April 21. Tickets range from $17 to $65, with half-price tickets available to U students one hour before show time. Tickets can be purchased at 355-ARTS or www.arttix.org.

Courtesy Quinn Farley

The Wilis begin their dance of death in Ballet West’s presentation of “Giselle.”