Theatre at Meydenbauer Center, Bellevue, WA; July 26, 2014
Nadia Iozzo, the titular Giselle in Ballet Bellevue’s recent production of this timeless Romantic era tragic story ballet, was built for this role and brought a matrix of considerable technique, understanding of style, nuance, and characterization to each bit of dancing and scene.
A guest from Kansas City Ballet, Iozzo, was run a very close second by Louisville Ballet’s Christopher A. Scruggs as the duplicitous prince, Albrecht. His beautiful line and experience paired well. Together, these two made the ballet worth watching.
My only fuss is about his costume. He came charging on in, as Albrecht does in Act I, but wearing white tights and in a fancy tunic that suggested anything but disguise as a peasant. He really needs to have two different costumes – perhaps to have come in like this, but to have gone in and changed in his own little cottage (the same one in which his royal sword is soon hidden, perhaps) before appearing in front of the villagers, who presumably were to pretend they didn’t notice. I’ve seen this done in other productions and it works well.
A related fuss is that the door to Giselle’s cottage was only painted and not functional. It was really weird seeing characters knock and then not having Giselle, or anyone else for that matter, go in or out through it. Did they use a backdoor or secret entrance? This door is a critical piece of stage business and should not have been compromised.
Lastly, the Wilis, including Myrtha, way overdid it in the makeup department for Act II. Some productions like to have the corps de ballet wear pale makeup to suggest a death pallor or more of a ghostly appearance but in a couple of all-too-obvious cases they put on too much and looked like they had cold cream on instead. Myrtha, who should have known better, had her eyeliner on so thick I kept getting the impression she had glasses on. Even worse, it gave her a raccoon-like look. This was perhaps more tragic than Giselle’s demise, particularly as it was distracting.
These aside, the production was mostly faithful to expectations and standards we’ve come to associate with it: good corps ensemble work, a cheerful brightness to the village scene, and pathos for Act II. Iozzo and Scruggs’ two duets were excellent and the ironies inherent in the last act were clear and moving. Iozzo’s pointe work was light and crisp and Scruggs’ tours, pirouettes, extension and beats were sound and at a very high professional level of excellence.
One of the brightest points was the use of a 36 piece orchestra – the Ballet Bellevue Orchestra, led by the very capable Philip Tschopp.
Ballet Bellevue has worked hard for more than a couple of decades to bring quality dance to this suburban community and it succeeds, yet it would have been comforting to have had more audience members – too few seats sold. The company continues to deserve and need support, particularly in their search for a new studio as they are being required by the City of Bellevue to move from their long-time home, adjacent to a large, downtown park.