Classic Ballet: Dancers will bring ‘Giselle’ to life

By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

Ghostly women will dance through the cemetery with revenge on their minds.
The Civic Ballet will stage the second act of “Giselle” at the Tupelo Civic Auditorium stage on Saturday.
The title character is a peasant who falls in love with Albrecht, a member of the town’s upper crust. When the relationship falls apart, she dies of a broken heart.
“If she dies from sadness, she becomes a willi,” said Jan Dijkwel, artistic director of Civic Ballet. “Willis are a group of ghosts who come out from 12 o’clock at night to 4 in the morning. They go through the forest and dance.”
All of the willis died because of love gone wrong, so they’re angry when Albrecht comes to the cemetery to grieve for Giselle.
“He is compelled to dance until he collapses,” Dijkwel said. “The story leaves it open whether he dies or just collapses.”

The role of Albrecht will be performed by Mikhail Ilyin with the American Ballet Theatre in New York. Dijkwel said there won’t be much art to his performance toward the end, because the willis will wear him out.
“It is a very, very exhausting role for the male dancer,” Dijkwel said. “If you do this full out, it takes everything out of you.”
Yumika Oshita, the Civic Ballet’s principal ballerina, will be Giselle. A native of Japan, Oshita has won numerous ballet competitions in her home country.
“She is in Tupelo for the year to be part of the Civic Ballet,” said Dijkwel, who has taught Oshita since she was 12.
Michelle Hodges of Tupelo will perform the role of Myrtha in the production.
“She is the matriarch of the willis,” Dijkwel said.
In addition to the second act of “Giselle,” dancers will perform a variety of other numbers choreographed by Dijkwel, Sarah Karrant and Arianna Hodges.
“It will be a wonderful night with homegrown talent from here and the proven professionals,” Dijkwel said. “’Giselle’ is one of the great classical ballets.”

Contact M. Scott Morris at (662) 678-1589 or

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